“The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.” ~Elbert Hubbard
Why does this affect me so? What am I feeling? Sheer Anger! Total disgust with myself. Hatred and disappointment in my life stain my thoughts. Why? Because in my ego’s opinion, I should already be who I am meant to be, and I am not there! Not by a mile.
I feel so much disgust. My fears and resentment have grown into hatred and pain. I am at a loss for who I never became. Full of shame, I see that I have wasted my life—or so I perceive it that way.
It is hard to accept this. I am so sorry that I have failed so frequently at empowering myself. Seriously, what extremes must I take to wake up and say, “I am finally okay with myself; I am here, warts and all”?
Instead, life has molded me, shaped me, and created me where I am right now.
Tears of anger fill my eyes. Why pursue so many times my desire to make something of myself? What am I making?
What did I expect to have happened already? Who did I think I was supposed to be? Fear, disappointment, and sadness shadow me as I have moved on.
Now I am asking myself, “What would someone who loves themselves do?”
It struck me, what if I decided to define what I believe I failed at? As I looked at my life, what I perceived as success and failure started to unravel.
I was learning how I defined each of these two words. This was a monumental moment for me.
Because I experienced my power at a young age of believing I could do anything, believing that I could make anything happen, I concluded in my late twenties, as one dead end led to another, that I couldn't maintain, sustain, or become successful at what I really wanted.
Attempts to open a restaurant failed as investors backed out. My joy and passion as a pastry chef failed at so many corners, it drove me mad. As a successful pastry chef in Chicago, my experience in my move to Seattle changed my belief.
Several jobs within a year, eventually attempting to do something on my own, I faced many frustrations. With enthusiasm from being told I was one of the best vegan pastry chefs around, I thought I could make a success of myself—and yet, no one would hire me. Why?
Was it not clear just how much I was dedicated to making this happen? Was it not understood that I used my last cent to give it my best shot? Penniless, having moved five times in one year, dealing with a car accident and my dog running away brought me to one dead end after another. I finally surrendered, and gave up.
When I reflect back on my life, I can see that if I had succeeded in these endeavors, I never would have worked on my own healing and opened up to my own gifts as a healer. Fate or destiny had another plan for me.
My definition of failure became clear to me. It didn’t help that I believed I could not make much money. (Or was it that I believed I wasn't worth a lot?)
Because I lacked the skillful means to ask for help, needed to improve my coaching skills, and had minimal computer skills, I felt like I didn’t have the strength to sustain anything on my own (especially as resources back then were considerably different than what they are today).
I felt it had all led me down a big black hole that I defined as failure.
Then one day I sat down and made a bullet list showing all the failures on one side and all the successes on the other side. All of a sudden I had a light bulb moment where it was clear that I had more successes than I ever thought.
I began seeing my strengths. Looking at my failures and successes this way has changed the charge I have on it. I'm not afraid of ideas, or starting something and making something out of nothing. This is not failure!
As I continued looking and decoding my thoughts, I could see that I connected my self-worth and self-esteem with money and earnings in my definition. That is not success. That is all about old beliefs and being stuck in them.
I have changed in twenty years. And now, I can see how different I am. My past is not my future. My worth is not based on money, talents, or what I have proven to myself or the world. Success is not a destination; it is how we choose to live our life on a daily basis.
I can only now see this. At a young age, there was no way I could see it..
Life needs to create “failures” so we have two viewpoints to reference from.
I’ve recognized that I am quite successful at many things. As I looked at my successes on my bullet list, I realized that I need to market my strengths and hire someone for the things I'm not great at. Maybe even get a coach. As my excitement bubbled up, for the first time in my adult life, I felt I was becoming myself.
By redefining this word “failure,” I learned that I am able to move forward and embrace who I am becoming. The guilt, the anger, the wishes and desires that shadow my past can fade away.
The illusions of who I was and who I am can fade as my authentic self emerges and rises above. I get to create success now through my choices. I can rejoice that I have made it thus far. For me, that is magical. I feel I am enough.
That is how someone who loves themselves gets to decide what failure means.
Photo by Ian D. Keating