I keep hearing friends -- people I hold in high regard -- saying they've failed.
Failed at a job.
Failed at a relationship.
Failed out of higher education.
Failed at a diet.
Failed at a business opportunity.
Failed at a craft project.
I think it's time to re-frame what it means to fail. It's nearly always said with shame and sorrow, as though there's something inherently wrong with trying something and not having it work out EXACTLY the way that one hoped.
Which, when you think about it, is pretty freaking stupid.
Let me tell you a story.
Once upon a time, there was a girl who spent a lot of time cleaning up after her family. Like, a LOT a lot of time. There were multiple reasons for this -- she was a smidgen OCD and couldn't deal with clutter or dirt, and her family members were on the other end of the spectrum and were kind of hoarders, so she worked herself to the bone trying to keep their stuff from overtaking the house, and they kept making more clutter and mess, plus there was the kind of survivor's guilt that can come from losing family members -- whatever. The point is, girlfriend had some baggage and was working her backside off.
Finally, she thought, you know what? I need a BREAK.
So she hooked up with a personal shopper and got herself a nice dress and some snappy shoes and took a night off to go to the social event of the season. Sweet, right? She felt good, looked good, danced her butt off to Beyonce, and maybe enjoyed an adult beverage or two.
And she met a MAN. (Perhaps while shaking her stuff to Uptown Funk. I mean, who knows?)
He was cute. He could tell a good story. He listened to her talk. She dug him. He dug her. And then, just as she was about to ask for his number, she remembered that she needed to get home and let the dog out, because there was no WAY that she was going to get home after her super fabulous evening and clean up dog poop, thank you very much. So out she dashed, throwing an apology over her shoulder, because the anxiety of having to worry about cleaning up dog shit had taken over her brain* -- in the process, she lost a shoe, but she didn't really notice.
So. She got home. No doggy accidents to clean up. A win!
Oh, but -- the guy. He was so cute. She had really liked him. She REALLY should have asked for his number.
She beat herself up. She had failed.
Or had she?
It turns out that the guy? Had really liked her too. So he started a Facebook campaign to find her. And sure enough, soon enough, they reconnected. She thought she had failed -- but she had made enough of an impression that he moved heaven, earth, and social media to find the girl who made him laugh, and that is the opposite of failure.
In addition, she learned something -- she learned to seize the moment. She learned to take a chance.
She learned to hire a dog sitter.
And they lived happily ever after. Because that's what happens in Cinderella and other fairy tales.
It happens in life too -- and it happens more quickly if you realize that what you perceive as failure is just a stepping stone, a bridge to the next place you are supposed to be.
One of the things I believe most in this life is that it takes vast amounts of courage to try things. It takes bravery to put yourself out there and go for it, whatever "it" might be.
If it doesn't work? Failure is not an indication that you are terrible, or a loser, or an idiot or any of those negative things that we all tend to attach to the word failure. Failure is an indication that you are willing to try, willing to learn and grow.
Willing to try.
Willing to learn.
Willing to grow.
You know -- everyone knows -- that when you try something, it might go spectacularly poorly. But you also know -- everyone knows -- that life is a risk. Walking out the door in the morning is chancy. But you do it. We all do it.
We do it because what is out there is beautiful and worth the risk.
Even if we fail.
To my dear ones who think they have failed -- maybe things didn't work out the way you thought. You left the dance early. You lost a shoe.
On the other side of that there are amazing, exciting things. You'll get to them. They're there.
And because you tried -- because you're brave enough to try -- when you get to those other dances, those other destinations?
You are going to kick major ass.
*I know some of you know what I'm talking about here.