The Best Advice I Ever Got About Failure
You could say that I have trophies in failure. If I had a wall of certificates mine would say ‘Kelly tried, but failed’ or ‘Kelly just wasn’t good enough’ and so that was my mental state for over 30 years.
I think in a way, failure was just so familiar to me that it became my consistent state and my identity. My story was not a ‘happily ever after’ story, instead it became ‘The girl never gets the boy’, ‘The pot of gold was never found at the end of the rainbow’ and ‘The Ugly Duckling did not turn into a swan’.
That WAS my story, but not anymore.
Let’s face it, failure feels like dog poo. It stinks, lingers and nobody literally gives a crap. Who would want to feel like a failure? I know I didn’t, but on the other hand… I did. Failure was my story and that story felt safe, it felt a lot safer than success. Darkness was my comfort zone; light was too bright, too risky and far too scary. So I lingered for a long time in failure, not realising that failure was just a perception of mine, given to me by society and people who also felt like failures. I had wonky thinking; I didn’t appreciate who I was or who I was becoming because of this perceived failure.
Failure Is A Gift
Failure is something creative people do. If you never fail, you never learn, you never grow and you never create the new. Perfection, that is death, perfection isn’t life or growing, it is known and finished.
Life is filled with uncertainty.
Life is unknown.
Failure is something that did not work out the way we thought it should, when in fact whatever ‘it’ was actually worked out exactly how it was supposed to happen.
Because it did.
It’s so simple.
If something is meant to happen it will. If it has not happened yet or may not happen in the future, it is because another path or door is waiting to be explored.
Imagine running down a corridor super-fast towards that bright shiny golden door at the other end… you push through it and at the other side is a cliff and you fall off that cliff…. ‘weeeee…. OOPS!’
That door was not your door to open.
And look at all those doors you missed because you were so focused on that one door.
The Garden Doesn’t Bloom All At Once
Now let’s take a look at nature.
In a garden, we have many different plants, some called perennials which grow year after year; we have plants that are only there for a season and what we find is often the most colourful plants are only seasonal, but we love them nonetheless.
Do we shout and scream at that flower because it was only a temporary plant? Or do we appreciate it for the journey it took us on, a journey of watching it push through the soil, open its petals, let out its fragrance and then wither back into the earth. This is how we could view what we perceive to be failure.
Those relationships, projects, goals etc… that we think we failed at were not failures at all; they were on that journey for however long they needed to be. Some barely made it out of the soil before they died back down into the earth. Some gave us a blaze of colour for a short time but all were worthwhile.
Now onto those perennials. Those
perennials are you. They are who you really are. The part of you that keeps growing, that keeps expanding regardless of how many seasonal flowers bloom and come and go around them. They are always a success regardless of what comes or goes.
And you are the same.
Perhaps You’re A Late Bloomer?
And what about the late bloomers, those flowers that bloom in the desert or in the dark of night? Sometimes we bloom later in life because we had to wait for conditions to be perfect around us for that flower of ours, whatever that may be (insert your goal or dream), to reveal all its beauty.
Some of us are late bloomers. We have to go through the grit and challenge of life to be ready to reveal to the world what was there all along for the world to see.
We didn’t see it at first. We may have been blinded by those golden doors along the way, but eventually we begin to see that those dark times and struggles led us to growing and blooming in a much stronger and deeper way. We have strong roots, founded in life’s challenges. Like the lotus we bloom in the mud of life and this is how our journey is meant to be.
So, the best advice I was given about failure was that we never really fail, some of what we do is meant to only be seasonal. Some of what we dream about was not meant to come to full fruition for a reason and that reason is understood later as we continue on our human journey.
So try not to beat yourself up or wear the badge of failure like I did for so long. Instead acknowledge that your life’s garden has many seasons and while you may be in your winter right now, spring comes around eventually; it could be tomorrow, or the next day or later down the road of life, but what is important is the journey you are on right now.
The outcome, the door, the shiny object over there… if it is meant to be, it will find you, so in the meantime just take one step in front of the other and live as simply as you are able.
Self-compassion and self-acceptance is the key and is the way to allow life to flow, in whatever way we need, to grow.
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Kelly Martin is the author of ‘When Everyone Shines But You’ , a passionate mental health writer, podcaster, radio producer and blogger questioning life’s illusions. After what seemed like a decade of intense anxiety, feelings of failure and grief from the loss of her father she chose to take a mindfulness path and has not looked back since. Kelly encourages people to find the treasures that lie within the pain and suffering and to learn to see themselves as ‘enough’ exactly as they are, right now through her writing, website, podcast Kelly Martin Speaks and her Facebook LIVE’s