The phrase, “failure is not an option,” needs to be removed from our vocabulary as twenty-somethings. I used to hear this growing up, especially when I played sports, and it stuck with me.
Failure was not an option, and I have carried that with me my whole life. But the truth is failure is inevitable. A better, more accurate statement is “giving up is not an option.”
Let’s face it: we all fail.
I don’t care who you are, you have failed before. It is impossible to go through life without failing. We are ingrained to believe that failing is bad and that you are not good enough if you fail. But the truth is failing isn’t bad; it is how you pick yourself up afterwards that shows the kind of person you are.
That One Time I Couldn’t Stop Failing… Until I Finally Did
Take me for instance; I have failed many times in my life. I failed a class, I failed to do the right thing, I failed to find a job, I failed at relationships, I failed starting my own business, and I am sure there are many other things I failed at along the way as well. But all these after all these failures I do not feel like a failure in life. Each time I did not succeed I learned something from that experience that stayed with me. I know that when life gets tough I can persevere through those tough times.
Most recently, I continued to fail a very important test that was basically holding up my schooling and career. I spent a year trying to pass this test. I would study every time for it and every time I would fail. Not even a monumental fail, but by a couple of points fail. Which honestly felt worse being so close and still coming up short.
Back in October I was visiting my sister and newborn nephew. I was awaiting my results, thinking I for sure passed this time. There is no way I could not have passed this test, especially since it felt like I had taken it a 100 times. (No, I did not take it a hundred times–for the record.)
We were about to go for a walk at this beautiful spot and then out for lunch when I got my results. I failed, again, and this time by one point. In that moment I felt so low. I felt, for lack of a better word, stupid. And of course I felt like a huge failure in life.
For some reason my emotional state this time around took a quick downward spiral. I couldn’t help but think: am I making the right choice for my career? Why am I almost 30 years old and can’t get my life together?
This then took me down the dark path of, everyone else around me has it figured out and I don’t. I can’t finish school, I don’t have a steady job, I don’t own a home, I don’t have a boyfriend. I kept thinking about all the things I lack in my life and feeling sorry for myself. Literally in all of five minutes these negative thoughts were swirling around in my head.
That is when I walked into my sister’s room and started bawling and telling her how low and stupid I felt. My sister is a great person to turn to for advice but the advice she was offering was almost like a self-help book. “It will get better.” “You don’t know what can happen in the future.” “You need to stay positive.” All true statements but to be honest in that moment I didn’t want to hear the positives. In that moment I wanted to be a brat and feel sorry for myself.
I feel like most people need that time to just feel bad before you can move on from it. So that is what I did. I told her I am quitting and I am just going to go find a desk job and move on from it all. Like this was really going to make me feel better. But that is what I told her. There was no point in talking me out of it. My mind was made up. So I wiped my tears and sulked on the way to our walk.
I told my family I was going to run instead so I put in my headphones and started running. I don’t know what it is about working out that always makes me feel better, but it does. Maybe it is the endorphins or maybe it is because when I am mad or frustrated I push myself further than I think I can. During my run my head started to clear and began to think about how ridiculous I sounded earlier.
Was I really just going to give up?
I have never really given up on anything that mattered to me before.
How could I feel good about quitting on myself? I had come too far along in this process to just say F*&# it!. That is when I decided I would keep taking this test and pass it if it was the last thing I do!
Skip ahead a couple tests later (yes I took it two more times after that), I finally passed! Passing felt like a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. Just because I failed didn’t mean I had to give up on my dream, it just meant I had to work a little harder to get there than I thought it would.
So why tell you this story? The purpose of this story is to let you know that everyone fails. And when we fail sometimes we want to give up trying. Sometimes you go to that dark place because you need to just feel it. You are not alone.
I will say, failure is a good thing, but quitting is not. Because when you quit you quit on yourself. Failure is a necessary part of life because you need to know how much you can handle and also to prove to yourself that you are stronger than your failure.
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I think failing at so many things has helped me grow as a person for three reasons:
1. I am not perfect and I don’t need to be perfect. Let’s be honest, perfect is boring anyways.
2. I am only a failure when I truly give up on myself. I needed to fail to learn this.
3. To understand hardship, failure is necessary. It is a necessary evil to learn what it is like not to accomplish everything or get everything you want right away. It teaches you patience for yourself. It takes time and effort to achieve goals. Nothing is worth anything if you do not realize how hard it is to get there along the way.
I know this story was a little more personal, but I felt it was necessary to help you realize you are not alone and that sometimes it takes a couple tries to get to where you want to be. We all struggle with the thought process that you go through when you fail. It’s not easy, and it never will be, but it is worth it, every single time.
Don’t ever give up on yourself because that, in my opinion, is worse then failing.