A few weeks ago, I sent a newsletter announcing the failure of our existing business. I received many responses, most to the tune of, “Don’t be so hard on yourself! You didn’t fail!”
The sentiment of these emails was, of course, utterly supportive. But, I didn’t need someone trying to convince me I hadn’t failed. What I needed was a big, fat, “Congratulations on your failure!”
Failure isn’t a new experience in my life, though it is uncomfortable and uncommon for me. I’m a “buck up” or “muscle up” or “bear down” type of person, whatever those phrases mean. I usually can find my way out of something through sheer force of will. It’s not always a beneficial approach.
When we teach people they won’t fail if they simply try harder, we don’t prepare them for the fact some things just aren’t going to be that way.
I learned this lesson during my attempts to conceive around 7 years ago. I was living with a debilitating thyroid disorder, trying to improve my health, reading every book on auto immune protocol diets, going to weekly – pricey – acupuncture sessions, swallowing all the disgusting herbs, wearing all the crystals, and still sick, sick, sick and infertile.
I sat with my failure daily. I lost friendships, jobs, partial vision, and a lot of weight. I cried consistently. Eventually, I had radiation to eliminate my thyroid, took a broader course of medications, and restored my health to a level adequate enough to have children.
Was it all worth it the moment I held my daughter in my hands? Unquestionably. Would I ever want to learn my lesson this way again? Unquestionably not.
Failure is awful. But, sometimes, it is the only way. And when it is, you just have to sit with it. You have to lose whatever it is you’re going to lose. You’ll eventually gain things as well, but that step comes much later, and it is an unpleasant climb.
With my personal life and with my business, I would – hands down, a million times over – opt for the elevator to success if I could. I would convince myself I haven’t failed, that I’m simply growing stronger somehow, that I’ve done what I set out to do.
But, there is true beauty in being with failure and not looking for the finish line or the lesson or the “comeback” too early.
Someday, I’ll write a post on this blog about how I triumphed and rediscovered myself through this process. Failure is human, and triumphing over it is … also human. It’s what we do.
For now, I’m holding my kids close, setting up a yoga studio in my bedroom, licking my wounds and trying to allow space for the fact I am not the great success story of COVID19.
(I’ve also “unfollowed” all those I would consider to be the great success stories of COVID19. No need to pour salt on it!)