I was talking to a friend the other day about the kind of work I used to do. A few years ago, after being laid off and then having a pretty unsuccessful, frustrating run at going freelance, I’d felt like a total failure.
Thinking about it now, I’m surprising grateful for the way things turned out. I no longer feel like I failed exactly but that I was going down the wrong road and trying to force an outcome that just wasn’t meant to be at the time.
I wasn’t even happy in my work anymore but was clinging strongly to the idea that not only “should” I be working full time but I “should” also be succeeding no matter what.
There are so many times I can think of when I have failed at something in my life.
From the small things like:
- Not making cheer-leading my freshman year of high school
- Never landing lead parts in the plays and musicals at school
- Having a date from prom (so embarrassing I didn’t go at all)
To the more serious:
- My first marriage ending in divorce
- Not landing what I thought would be my dream design job
- Being laid off, more than once, a few years ago when the economy tanked
For every one of these occurrences I saw as failures that I would beat myself up for, signs of how I was somehow less than, crushing blows to my ego and soul, I am now thankful.
I did not make the cheer squad but I ended up knowing and having friends from a wide variety of cliques with lots of different interests.
Because I would audition and not get parts, I took acting class with the director and aced it, working my butt off and impressing him with every monologue and assignment.
I learned that love is not always just about having fun and things being easy. It’s how you work, respect and treat each other when times are tough that make a relationship and marriage. You have to really know yourself and each other. And sometimes, being 22 is just too young.
- Failure leads you in different directions and sometimes the right direction without you knowing it.
- It teaches empathy and humility.
- Failing can help you see that every time something doesn’t work out, the world doesn’t end.
- It helps you see how many possibilities are out there.
- And shows us we don’t know everything.
Being laid off and my career flopping was so hard at the time. It was like losing a part of my identity. I didn’t know who I was if I didn’t have a title and paycheck with a company name on it.
This forced me on a journey of discovery and acceptance of who I truly am and where I am today:
A stay at home mom, spending the time and having experiences with my son I could only dream about in my former, busy life. A happy wife in a wonderful relationship. The author of a blog and student of everything around me.
Looking back, I’m living today so much of what I’d hoped for earlier in life.
The road is curved and winding. It can be scary and a lot that happens to us does not make sense and definitely doesn’t seem like anything positive or good. Knowing that sometimes we are being pulled in the direction we need to go can relieve us of some of the struggle, fear and pain.
I don’t know if it’s ever easy but I think sometimes, our “failures” can be awesome. Even when it doesn’t seem so at the time.