Other than death do you know what my biggest fear in life is? FAILURE.
BIG FAT dark and scary failure. I consider myself quite a self aware person and I know that this constant fear of failure is part of the reason I work so hard; I am so ambitious because if you work you’re ass off that’s surely the way to avoid failure, right?
This isn’t true. Although it plays a large role in achieving your goals no path to success is without pot holes and dark days. Without failure there is no success because nobody, and I mean nobody, on this earth can do everything RIGHT THE FIRST TIME. Mistakes are only mistakes if you don’t learn from them, am I right?
This isn’t a preachy blog about how you can skip around the faults and failures in life. This is my thoughts on how I try and remind myself that not being perfect, or getting things right the first time, IS OKAY.
Below are three times I failed and why it’s okay:
Getting my driving license
This was my first failure as a near adult. Most 17 year olds dream of getting their driving license. For me it was a milestone filled with dread and anguish. I am the eldest child in my family so everyone was looking at me to see how I’d get on as the first adolescent driver in the house. I took the lessons and then did more lessons. Took the theory test and passed (that’s the easy bit I’m sure) and then when it came to booking the actual driving test I just didn’t. My peers all started taking theirs, many failed an tried again, most passed and whizzed off in their Vauxhall Corsas without a backwards glance.
One year later my twin sisters turned 17 and passed first time. This felt shit obviously. Even more so when I had to beg them for lifts. If they said no I was a “Bus Wanker”. OH, THE SHAME!
There are some obvious issues here that we are going to skirt right over – like why the hell didn’t you just do the test?! I know, I have issues. But anyway, fast forward a few years and I’m living in London. There’s the tube and buses are everywhere, and yes, Uber is indeed my best friend.
So it’s fine. Maybe I’ll never pluck up the courage to take a driving test, maybe I’ll take it with an automatic, maybe (I’m pretty much banking on this btw) driverless cars will be here sooner than we think.
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Not holding down a job
Stepping into the real working world for me was never an easy path. I graduated right in the middle of the recession in 2102. Jobs were scarce and if you got one it was rarely in the field you’d studied and was most definitely badly paid. And interns worked for free (back when it was legal to not pay them) so free labour from over qualified graduates was abundant.
I was lucky enough to score a job a month or so after uni. It was in an experiential marketing firm in Windsor who has an impressive roster of big name clients; Revlon, Sure, Superdrug, Bourjois to name a few. I threw myself in with abandon, eager to please and with little return. Unluckily for me my boss was a bully and I got very very stressed very quickly. I’ve never been one to take the glass half full approach to life. Especially, when I’m not being rated fairly. I wrote my notice out and walked away.
This was followed by a series of short term jobs. Three years into the world of work and never having stayed at a job longer than 10 months I was starting to think the problem might lie with me. In truth I think it did. Sure, lots of people have shitty bosses, work all the hours for little pay, and Monday mornings make them want to call in sick but on they trudge. I couldn’t. As soon as something happened or I got so much of a whiff of things being a bit shitty, work life became hell. I was soon updating my cv and looking elsewhere.
When I went full time as a blogger back in October I felt like a failure. Mostly because yet again this was another job that on paper people thought was “amazing” but really I just could not get down with. Was it the authority? Yes, I’ve always had a problem with that. Was it my attitude that made my working day all that much worse? MOST DEFINITELY. But it’s okay because through trying and failing to maintain a job in the typical working world I realised that it would never work for me. It’s my personality and its okay.
Instead, after a few weeks of wallowing and few months of fear, I was making massive traction in the blogging world. Enjoying the freedom that is working for myself made me happier and work 10 x harder. I HAD TO FAIL at the perceived norm several times over to learn that it would never get better or easier but that I needed to change my path.
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When I wasn’t there for someone
Last year I made a really good friend. I loved being with her, we laughed ALL THE TIME and I was so glad we’d met. It was one of those friendships that I could see blossoming into a lifelong one: we’d be at each other’s weddings, hold each others newborns…
A few months ago she got depressed. I was there for her, asking her how she was, regularly checking in. But I also had some shit going on. Something that had me leaning on her for a while. I’m not going into details but I suddenly felt her pulling back from me. I was stupid and egotistical and thought it was because she had made new friends and was not really interested in me anymore. So I pulled back too. Just when I should have been more active in making an effort with her while she was going through a shitty period, not considering that was why she was being less in touch.
Fast forward 3 months and we met up and hashed it out. She’s in a much better place now and I’m so glad we could both put things aside and be honest about what happened. But the truth is I failed as a friend. Because I was too self absorbed and insecure about her not liking me anymore, when, I should have focussed on our friendship and made more of an effort.
On reflection I failed as a friend but it’s okay because we were both brave enough to face it. And I’ve definitely learnt a lesson about putting your ego aside when it comes to friendship. I hope we are on track to repair the friendship but part of me wonders if it will ever be the same again because people move on, and life happens so fast. Part of me is still a little ashamed of the way I acted.
So I guess the takeaway here is that failure is an inevitable part of life. Without failure we don’t learn and become better-rounded human beings. Failure, on some level, will be experienced by all of us for the rest of our lives. I think its important to take the lessons learned from every failure and not shy away from it. Because of some of my biggest failures I’ve been able to better myself in work, friendships, love and generally everything life has to offer.
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If you liked this personal blog you may want to check out more posts from my Rebalancing Myself series here.