Failure, and its perception thereof, is a tricky bitch.
Failure can be good; it’s how we learn, it’s how we grow, it’s how we get better at . . . not, failing.
But. Failure also doesn’t feel good. It can come with labels, with guilt, with expectations, with judgment. The worst part of failure, in my experience, is that feeling of letting someone down. Of being the opposite of successful.
It’s the feeling of disappointment.
Growing up, the very worst punishment of all, the ultimate consequence, was knowing I had disappointed my parents. I’d rather have missed every dance, every sporting event, every social gathering, than to disappoint them.
When I was doing what was asked of me, I felt good. When I was pushing my boundaries, I felt terrified, but exhilarated. I was strong and independent, but at the same time entirely not. I was the loudest goody-two-shoes in school. The boldest sweater-set-wearing-over-achiever in my dorm. The most outspoken rule follower in the building.
The desire to not disappoint manifested itself in my work and relationships, and extended into my daily life. I worked hard for my praise, and I trained myself into believing that a successful life was one with minimal failure and maximum effort, validation won with overcompensation.
The allure of endorsement is strong. Approval feels good. It’s easy to play by the rules when you know what they are.
This carried on into my adult life for a very, very, very long time. Until one day, it finally didn’t. Until one day, I realized I was creating a story, one that said that I had to do certain things, to behave in certain ways, to accomplish specific moderated and familiar goals to get approval.
Bullshit. Absolute and complete— bullshit.
It took time to change that pattern. It took heartache, perspective, three years of personal growth and inquiry, over 500 hours of Yoga Teacher Training, and a husband who really sees me, for me to finally be able to sit here and say —
My definition of success is not the same as yours, and that’s okay.
A successful life for me does not mean staying in the box. It doesn’t mean doing things in a standard or small way. It doesn’t mean average or conventional or inherently easy. Success to me might look a lot like failure, to you.
It looks like doing things a little bit differently.
It doesn’t mean what you are doing is wrong, and what I am doing is right. It doesn’t mean I believe what I am doing is better, and what you are doing is inferior. It doesn’t mean that I am proud of me but disappointed in you.
It might include you. It might account for you. My impact on you might be factored in, but my success is not about you; it’s about me.
For me, success looks a like exploring myself and what’s all around me, like connecting with my community, even in unfamiliar settings, like regularly getting out of my comfort zone, like meeting the world with love, joy, and compassion, like taking risks, like raising my kids in a urban setting, like making our family traditions untraditional, like sharing my gifts with the world in ways that serve me, and that feel good, TO ME.
My success is being a “yes,” and to me first.
When I am authentic and real, I have more to give to everyone. Energetically speaking, when I am moving from my center I am able to generate a greater and more positive impact on everything around me, including you.
I fail, not because I disappoint, but because I choose success. Go do you, as you, for you and because of you. Try, fail, learn, grow, repeat.
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