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. 


  1. Can we just be big fat failures together please? Cos that's pretty much how I feel right now -__-

  2. HI Jess all of us nee dsome help at times and I (who some would say have it all, great job ,good husband, great childrens and grand children) have recently consulted a hypnotherapist who is amazing. I don't know what she says to me when I am under as it is subliminal but I find that it easier to get up each day and put one foot in front of another. I hope that you relise that life throws curve balls at all of us and it is up to us to throw them back, but it takes practice xx

  3. Yeah you're probably right. I really will be interested to see where it's at in 5 years time. It IS loads of fun. :D xxx

  4. Yeah I know. It's just so exhausting sometimes. ;) Xxx

  5. Oh babes. You're definitely not a failure! Xxxx

  6. I bloody wish I could believe it in myself xxx

  7. As the father of said Jessum here, I am SO proud of her I could burst...accepting all Jess says, have any of you seen her beautiful children...noticed how polite,loving and considerate they at 21 months and 5. Old fashioned values perhaps but not out of date. I do agree Jess, you need a career that will use you poeple and interwebby skills.

  8. Thanks Pops!!!! *embarrassed face* Xxxx

  9. I have been there! It's very easy to get caught up in scrutinizing the many ways we have failed in our own eyes. It is great that you have gotten meds and therapy (I currently use that combo myself!), in the end, you can learn to see those "failures" as part of the path that brought you where you are today, including all your blessings! Things will look up again, and who knows what you will accomplish in the future!

  10. I think social media has a lot to answer for when it comes to how we see ourselves - I am constantly reading about other people's seemingly wonderful lives and feeling like a failure. One of your former posts had that effect on me and at the time I felt envious of that part of your life but then maybe someone else has felt the same way about something I've written...) I also gave up on my chosen career (journalism, for which I was trained) due to not being able to sell myself and push myself in such a competitive world at the age of 20 (and even now!). My cousin also experienced the same thing with archaeology although she is doing something relevant now at the age of 40. I think that's another "marker" too - turning 40 definitely has a way of making you feel a bit shit about everything you've got wrong in life. I can only say good on you for getting counselling and definitely seek out and celebrate your successes - us Brits definitely struggle with that but it is very therapeutic. Thanks for linking Jess. Xxx #thetruthabout

  11. Oh yeah I didn't think about the big 40 looming but you're right... It has very probably got something to do with the big life assessment! Xxx


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