After a few discussions around failure recently, I thought I’d share 5 ways I’ve failed this year and why I’m now ok with them.
Last week, in my interview with Christina (read here), we discussed how failure is inevitable. Every person alive will fail at something, the only way you wouldn’t fail is if you didn’t do anything.
But failure is still uncomfortable.
When you admit to your failures, you also admit that you aren’t superhuman, perfect, or always on you a-game. I don’t think you ever get used to failing, but you get better at dealing with it and moving forward.
If you’re someone who tries a lot of different or new things then you’re going to fail.
I am definitely one of those people.
My mantra for a few years has been that the more I do, the more likely that one of those endeavours will lead me to where I want to be. For instance I apply to writing competitions, pitch to magazines and papers and I know that the more I apply to or pitch to then the more likely it is that one of those will get picked up/accepted.
The more risks you take, the harder you work, the more chances you take the higher the probability that one of them pays off, right?
Though on the flips side, of course, that means I also have a higher chance of failing.
I fail more often because of how many different opportunities I try and pursue.
One of the things about failure is that the more time that passes since it happened, the easier it feels to reflect on it and discuss it. My initial feelings of embarrassment, shame and disappointment from the failures listed below, have now passed and I feel that I can now discuss them as I have a different view of them.
5 ways I’ve failed this year and why I’m now ok with them:
- My relationship broke down
At the time, I remember this felt like a gigantic failure. It was the first time I had lived with a boyfriend and it didn’t work out. My friends have made it work, my cousins have made it work, so why couldn’t I?
I was embarrassed to face everyone. Despite discussing it at length with many of my friends, colleagues and family, I was so embarrassed as I felt like a failure.
It wasn’t my decision and it took a while to adjust to it – as a break up always does.
But now, I am ok with it for many reasons.
Firstly and most importantly, I feel much better. I didn’t realise how unhappy I was until I moved home and felt more like myself again. I’m also ok with it as I know it wasn’t right for me and it wasn’t meant to be. I don’t think I failed now, I think it (the relationship) failed and that was inevitable as it wasn’t right.
- I moved back home to my Mum’s
I guess this failure is tied in with my relationship break down, but after that ended I needed somewhere to live and the easiest and most appealing option was to move back to home to my Mum’s house.
Again, at the time I was torn as I felt as though I was a failure as I had to move back home, but also I wanted the comfort and support of my family. The main reason it felt like a failure was because it felt like going backwards to where I lived and how I was before.
But, the thing is, you never go backwards. Moving home with everything I had learnt made it completely different.
I’m ok with it now as I absolutely love my family and it’s been amazing to be with them during lockdown. It’s actually been a huge blessing as I think we would have all struggled being apart.
For instance, my brother, who is on furlough, texts me everyday at around half 11 to ask if I want whatever he’s going to make for lunch. He texts me as he knows I can be in calls and he asks me everyday without fail. It’s such a lovely thing to do and it brightens my day.
It’s worked out so well and I’m now ashamed of feeling as though I failed, as it’s been bliss aka a huge success to move home. Perhaps I also worried how it looked from the outside, that I was regressing or it was somehow a failure, but I also don’t care how it looks now as it’s been wonderful.
- I have been rejected, ignored and unsuccessful in writing competitions
At this point I feel that I should run away from all BBC opportunities to be honest, but yet again I applied for competitions on BBC Writersroom. In lockdown I have applied to five writing competitions, as well as applying for a place on the BBC Writers Academy, all of which have been rejected or (as usual) I’ve had no response from.
Yes, it’s frustrating, but that is five more competitions than I have ever applied to before – so that is something.
I’m ok with it as one of the opportunities that I apply for in the future will work out. The rejections are just part of the process and I’m pretty used to that now.
- I didn’t get onto a PhD
I applied for a PhD in English at the University of Cambridge and was rejected. This is the second time I’ve failed to get a place at Cambridge. I don’t have a contact on the inside or a first in my undergraduate, but I have a very strong academic and professional record. However, once again Cambridge is not for me.
Side note, a PhD probably isn’t for me either.
I’m ok with it once again for so many reasons.
At this point, I’m not even sure I wanted to do it in the first place.
With Cambridge I usually apply to see if I could get on the course, rather than I actually want to get on the course. I’m not interested in spending four years studying literature (for a hefty fee), I’d rather be writing it and actually being paid.
I also don’t think it was the right next step for me. If anything, it would have held me back from moving towards something I want.
5. I haven’t run my half marathon (yet)
I could list several different failures around weight, fitness and food, but one of my biggest failures is that I haven’t run my half marathon (yet).
This failure partially was out of my control. I signed up for the Great Eastern run in my hometown last year, then it was cancelled. So I signed up for the London Landmarks in March and that was also cancelled. I’m told this doesn’t usually happen, but it feels also a tad personal (why me and all that).
I guess on a plus you could say I’ve trained for a half marathon twice and that’s a success, but I haven’t actually run the full distance. The furthest I’ve run is 11 miles in training as you save the final two miles for the day.
What a considerable amount of people have done is run the distance at home or in their local area, which I haven’t done.
It feels like a failure as I sometimes forget it was due to the circumstances rather than my ability. I’ve raised the sponsorship, had plenty of donations and support for Sue Ryder, but I feel as though I’ve failed and let them down and the sponsors down.
It took me longer to think about why I’m ok with it now as I’m not sure I am just yet.
I have a very complicated relationship with food and exercise (which I’m working through) but I am ok with not having done the half marathon yet. Since I know I can run and also train for a half marathon, so when the time is right I will find a race and get to cross a finish line.
Then I will receive a medal that I’ve earned rather than being given at the end of a race that was cancelled (Great Eastern). I also then found another medal in the finishers rucksack, so I have two medals from a run I didn’t do, which doesn’t help that much with the feeling of failure and inadequacy.
How have you failed this year? How do you view your failures?