Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Failing Isn't Always Good For You

We are always told that failing is good for us. It teaches us. It helps us grow. We learn from our mistakes. But what if it doesn’t? What if it just makes us feel really, really bad about ourselves? What if constantly failing damages us psychologically and emotionally for a very long time? How is THAT good for us? And even if we do learn something from our experience, what if those lessons don’t outweigh the oppressive feeling of low self worth?

Failing to look at the camera
I don’t think of myself as a failure in life. Even I’m not that dramatic. I don’t think I’m a particularly negative person either. In fact quite recently I read an article about how optimistic people are always late....that MUST mean I’m an optimistic person, right?!

But I have some big fat failures under my belt. And as they stack up over the years I am finding it increasingly difficult to shake the feeling that I am pretty shit at a lot of stuff. And that’s not great for anyone’s self worth.

So let’s start with a few things that I consider I have failed at or am failing at in life.

I don’t have a career to speak of. I have a job. I have worked on and off for the same organisation for 13 years (give or take some travelling/living abroad). I work in Finance. My degree is in Fine Art and Art History. I desperately tried to break into that world when I graduated but I didn’t have the experience or the confidence to get into such a highly competitive field, despite doing voluntary work in galleries and low paid menial gallery guarding just to try and get a foot in the door. I even tried to make a living as an artist  painting pots at craft fairs for a while.*hollow laugh* It was pitiful.

I left that world feeling dejected and crap and just got a boring but paid admin job instead. I fell into finance administration by default. My grandparents asked me for years when I was going to put my great education to some use and get a "proper job". I’ve always felt like this is the area where I have failed the most. I am going to be 40 next year and I can’t even blame it on having kids. They didn’t come along until 5 years ago! It just got to a point where I didn’t know what else to do.

I didn’t own my own house until I reached 40. Thanks to reason one,  I’ve failed to earn enough to save. Or I have failed to save what I have earned. That’s a pretty big Debbie downer for me. I never thought I’d be married with kids but living in a rented house. I feel ashamed that I am so irresponsible with money that I couldn’t even provide my kids with the basic security of living in a house we own when they were born. Disclaimer: I don’t feel like not owning your own house, kids or no kids, is something to be ASHAMED of.... I just think I had higher expectations of myself and probably if I’d be more sensible with money I could have.

When it was obvious that I wasn’t going to be the power-dressing career woman I’d assumed I’d be, I thought that I would just concentrate on being a great mum instead. At least then I would have some purpose in life! I would be giving something great to the world after all!

Imagine my surprise when I endured every conceivable pregnancy illness, was sick everyday for 9 months and therefore hated almost every second of it. I’d failed at pregnancy! But optimism still abounds....bad pregnancy meant easy birth right? Wrong. 18 hours of induced labour and pushing, only to be dragged off to theatre and have my child yanked out with forceps and then not breathe for 7 minutes. But I could try and claw this thing back by being brilliant at breastfeeding right?! Oh...

Um..... Do you see a pattern emerging here?

So little recap: No career, no house, crap at pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding (a bit dodgy on my actual ability to parent well too but I think there’s enough in this list for now).... You’ve got to admit, anyone would be feeling pretty cruddy about themselves right now, wouldn’t they? How much more failure can someone take in life?

I haven’t even mentioned the disastrous love life of my 20s (highlights including dating a psycho), my 5th failed driving test this YEAR and finally a year into my gastric band surgery and not even half the weight being shed. I suck at succeeding in life!

I am obviously being fairly flippant here but actually it does weigh pretty heavily on me. I am on anti-depressants and I see a counsellor regularly. I don’t think that’s because I see myself as a failure, I think it’s because having failed (in my eyes) at so much, I need help building myself up again. And I know there are lots of things I haven’t failed at. I’m quite good at cooking. I can carry a tune. I can do funny accents. I can usually make people laugh (at or with me). I think I’m quite good at writing moaning old blog posts about how crap I am, right?

On a more serious note though, I know there are a few big things out there that I am good at and I don’t FAIL at. I haven’t failed at marriage (yet). My kids are happy and healthy. I have a load of friends who I *think* value my friendship too. Despite it not being my career choice, I have maintained my job at the same organisation for 13 years so I’m obviously doing something right there. And recently I’ve discovered that at least a few other people think I’m not bad at writing (thanks to a certain blog award nomination). There are probably more things I could think of if I really thought about it. I really am a glass half full person. I just could do with a few more top ups and a few less spillages. Because failing is a life lesson I’m a pretty big pro at right now. 
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