A theory of failure

I heard something today that just made me feel damned good about myself. If anything, it made me feel like what I’m doing is okay. That perseverance is critical. That this is normal. That I am not alone in this thing we like to call life, paving this paramount journey (also known as a career) I’m supposed to follow is not going to be flawless.

What I heard was a piece of advice one man would give to career beginners. And (I’d like to believe that) it was spot on.

We all have to know that there will be a time of inescapable and completely encapsulating failure that will convulse our mind, body, and soul like a limp rag doll. Deep inside our primal inner self (the lizard brain), we know that somewhere, no matter how minuscule, there is a high likelihood that we will fail. Perhaps even miserably. Preparing now seems like a smart coping mechanism in case / time of such a disaster.

Maybe a glimmer of hope, that teeny tiny glint of a glimmer of hope in the pit of your stomach is enough to stretch you further. To me, that says that we humans place hope further up the totem pole than fear or failure.

Life in a world where potential for success dominates, leaves puddles of glistening hope for all to tromp through. It is infectious. Little splatters of flecks of hope, enveloping your soul like mud on your shoes. If mud in this case was something more like salted caramel, viscous marshmallow crème, or the lava-hot soft chocolate chips lodged in a chocolate chip cookie just out of the oven.

But honestly, there is something powerful and fulfilling to know that ultimately we strive towards happiness, hope, and failure. All three seem necessary in this journey and all three are welcomed, at least by me, however it is heartbreakingly dreadful to confront failure. Especially when that failure is your own. More than the failure itself, sometimes I feel shrouded in the darkness of shame, like my warm, happy, sometimes even bubbly personality has been bottled up and cast away. Like a splitting headache has separated me from my normal state of being – as if being thrown down the rabbit hole of melancholia. But then something new is sure to arise from this shame: pride. A hubris of my own, I am often times too proud to admit defeat, wrongness, ask for help, or admit fault. To let fall my pride would mean to admit that I am wrong, which would mean that I had failed. So obviously, I do have a problem with meeting failure eye-to-eye. Alas, back to failure.

But failure is entirely necessary, crucial even. Failure is vital in recognizing The Good. Without failure, there would be no success. Without bad days, there would be no good days. Without sadness, there is no happiness. You can’t change one thing without changing everything.

Failure entails struggle. Struggling in life at some point or another is the flat patch of Earth on which you build your dream house – it took strenuous change over many years to get to this point but eventually, against all odds, it happened. Overcoming struggle is what builds people. Struggle, failure, hardship – it all equates to learning about yourself. Sincerely knowing things about yourself that you may not be proud of, things you may not like, things you may boast about or flaunt, things you may talk about constantly or bury deep inside yourself, things that might make you uncomfortable. Sincerely knowing yourself is knowing that you are irrationally stubborn, unreasonable, at times judgmental even though you try your very best not to be, a control freak, comfortable in your own skin, confident in your skills, happy, at peace with yourself, spirited, passionate, loving, kind.

The Bad and The Good, they always exist together.

In essence, failure is part of The Good. Failure is great, especially when one is mentally and emotionally adept to overcome it. To leap over it, like the self-imposed imaginary glass ceiling that it is. Failure brings hope that things will turn out the way you want them to, when in fact things will turn out the way you want them to. With just the right amount of courage, conquered shame, acceptance of failure, and willingness to chase your dreams, the possibilities in life have no end.

Failure is part of life and just because you endure failure, doesn’t mean that you are a failure.
(k)

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