Embracing Failure

Updated: Jun 29

Have you ever tried really hard at something, just for your efforts to fall short? Have you ever really wanted something to work out, but in the end it falls through? Have you ever wished for something to work out, when in reality it doesn't?

I know I have.

The fear of failure runs strong. We live in a society of productivity, where success is flaunted on social media. On the surface, all we see is fancy cars, impressive job titles and up-to date fashion trends. We only ever see the successful end product, never the work in progress.

Why is that? Why is failure so uncomfortable to talk about with other people?

We look up to the ones who succeed, because deep down, we want to be like them. It doesn't feel good to fail, and so we avoid it at every cost. When we do fail, we feel ashamed that we fell short. But in all reality... everybody fails. Nobody is perfect, and that's okay. That's what it means to be human.

What if we changed the way that we looked at failure? What if it became something we weren't afraid to talk about? What if you didn't feel so sh*tty whenever something didn't work out in our favor?

I suggest that we can. We can do this by viewing failure as a learning opportunity.

Earlier this week, I applied to my first freelance writing position. Actually, I applied to about ten, but two reached out asking for a writing sample. There was one in particular I was super excited about, so I dedicated my day off to writing it.

There were two days in between when I was contacted by the company, and when I wrote the article. In those two days, I got excited for the position, and started to imagine my life as if I had gotten the job. I pictured traveling and living where I wanted, while having the flexibility to be paid for my writing.

Today, I spent about three hours writing the test article. I carefully crafted my words, thoroughly scanned the clients website, and even used the Hemingway app to check my sentence structure. I ultimately had tried my very hardest, and when I submitted it, I was excited.

Twenty minutes later, they responded that my writing didn't match the tone they were looking for, and they denied me the position. I was really bummed after putting so much hard work in.

I thought that I was manifesting the job offer, but in reality it was just wishful thinking.

At first, I was tempted to start criticizing myself immediately. I could've easily went off into a whirlwind of how I'm a terrible writer and will never be compensated for it. However, I decided to take a different route.

Ultimately, in the midst of processing my rejection, I realized that I could learn from the experience. I also knew that I needed to practice self-compassion in order to do that.

So, I told myself this: I know this is a difficult moment for you. Nobody likes to feel rejected. However, everybody fails at some point in their life. I know that you did the best that you could. Now, you can learn from their feedback and try again later.

By simply practicing self-compassion, it made all of the difference. Instead of shutting down and feeling bad about myself, I know that I can use what I've learned when I apply to a similar position in the future. After all, it was my first time applying for a position like that! And, they referred me to another freelance company, complimenting my clear writing style.

After reflecting, I realized that I hadn't really told anybody that I was applying for freelance positions. I came to the conclusion that I didn't want to share it with others in case that I wouldn't get the job. It turns out, I didn't get the job, but if I had told someone I was applying, I would've had support dealing with the rejection!

My favorite quote on failure is this: "It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not lived at all - In which case, you fail by default" (J.K Rowling)

Everybody fails in life. That isn't something to be ashamed of. Failure allows us to learn how to be better for next time. If we never try due to the fear of failure, we will never succeed.

Instead of being afraid of failing, try to embrace it instead. Being honest about where we fall short allows others to connect with us and share our common humanity.

I know that it's easier said than done, because I'm still learning how to embrace it, too. After all, I am someone who has spent my life trying to achieve perfection, so by no means am I an expert. But, I do know that I don't want to be ashamed of failing any longer.

Instead of beating ourselves up when things don't turn out the way that we want them to, we have the ability to comfort ourselves through the disappointment. After we've learned how to show up for next time, we have the potential to achieve great things.

You're not lost, you're just on the way.

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