One of the most wonderful things about my friendships right now is how flawed we all are (hear me out). Being in your twenties is impossible, and we’re all trying really hard to be healthy and whole and have good skin and get regular haircuts and excel at everything but more importantly we’re all failing at these things on a pretty regular basis. As much as I’d like to believe otherwise, we’re not perfect people and we are all learning how to balance our successes and our failures. And we’re holding space for each other, too.
I feel like my life has had an abundance of failures recently. I might not be experiencing more than the average person but when I look around and see and celebrate the successes of my friends, I feel my failures even more. It’s really hard not to measure yourself by other peoples’ successes. Seeing your counterparts accomplish something brings a feeling of, “why hasn’t that happened for me?”
I know that failure leads to character growth, blah blah blah, but I’m tired of growing. I’m tired of working hard to keep my head up and fail with grace because failure is not graceful. Or it isn’t for me, at least. Lately I’ve been trying so hard not to fail that I’ve been afraid to move. If I don’t take a risk, I won’t be disappointed. And as a result, I’m standing still. I’m looking at my friends’ accomplishments while my feet are superglued to the ground.
I’ve been reading a book about failure. My friend loaned it to me – that’s what we do now, we trade self-help books and psycho-education resources – and while some might be taken aback by their best friend giving them a book about failure I think it’s perfect. It’s not about avoiding!! and manifesting your dreams!! and just believing in yourself and everything you’ve ever wanted will happen!!!!!! It’s about the reality that failure is going to happen in life, so here’s how you deal with it.
The fear of failure isn’t easy to get over, nor is it unique to me. I can see it all over the place. People aren’t applying for jobs because they don’t think they’ll get it, won’t commit to relationships because they’re afraid of getting hurt, won’t put themselves out there because the world might not be ready for it yet. We’re all in the same boat. Everyone is afraid of something. I think we’ve spent our lives so eager to get there that we’ve lost sight of here. The process, the growth that comes with being a person. I’m so impatient to be my future self that anything else feels like a failure.
I won’t get a job on my first try, I’m going to have unsuccessful interviews first. Not every relationship will lead to happily ever after. The world won’t always be ready for my style or my personality or my vulnerability or my feelings. Those things might happen, for some people, maybe the stars aligned for the friend who met her soulmate at age 17 or found his career right away or has so many opportunities coming at them that they are overwhelmed with choices that I’d give my left leg to have.
Note to self: just because those things are happening for other people and not you doesn’t mean you’ve failed. You just have to sort through different things than they did.
It’s OK that I’m not there yet. It’s OK that I don’t even know where “there” is.
I’m still not okay with failing. I have high expectations for myself. That’s not going away. But maybe reframing what failure means is a good place to start.