This mantra that I ripped out of a magazine, has followed me – on display within every desk, home office space and office nook that I’ve had for the past 20 years. Sometimes the most simple collection of words can be utterly powerful. I’ve used it to remind myself to be OK with failure, OK with stopping, and starting over, and to stay committed to, well – staying committed. Back when I first tore that saying out, I am certain that I was more concerned with staying *successful,* as I hadn’t developed a solid friendliness with failure. Then, life happened – unexpected things happened, and the glimmer of promise that failure instigated made me slightly less hard on myself.
There’s such a mixed message with failure. It can mean that you’re not prepared or capable. You slipped up with or without intention. And there will be consequences. Sometimes devastating. Then there’s the upside of failure — becoming more self-aware, getting clarity and focus, discovery of a new path. I guess it’s like the stuff that you’re either not able to see until you fail – reveals itself. We encourage kids and young people to fail. Famous psychologists, authors and celebrities wax on about how wonderful an experience it can be to fail. Everybody fails. Right. So why does it seem like false victory? Whatever your interpretation, it didn’t go as planned.
Failure, like loneliness, are often perceived as unwanted.
“Heartache is not something we choose to invite in,” Pema says. “Our feeling that we have a lot to lose is rooted in fear – of loneliness, of change, of anything that can’t be resolved, of non-existence. Relaxing with something as familiar as loneliness is good discipline for realizing the profundity of unresolved moments of our lives.”
I’m in these breathtaking mountains, tucked away in the woods with a bunch of genuinely warm people, and it is serene. Yet at the same time, I am learning how to make friends with loneliness and failure.