On Being a Failure

In December reality finally broke through to me. I am a failure in just about every area that counts for me. This has been the case for as long as I can remember. My body is a failure, my mind is a failure, I am a success only as… oh, nothing.

The realization though was not that I was a failure. Or even a compilation of failures. Instead the realization came as a question: why is it not okay to be a failure?

The answer was obvious enough: because failure is by definition not okay. But I am not always satisfied with obvious answers since the obvious answers are often the lowest quality answers.

So I looked for other answers: it is not okay to be a failure because it hurts others. That is not a bad answer except that it fails to take into account reality. In reality no one is better off by my efforts to resist the truth of my failure. In fact, it seems fairly clear that embracing truth and accepting failure would hurt others little compared to the constant struggle to fight through reality in order to claim a neutral, non-failure, status.

The other explanations for why being a failure is not alright were even easier to dismiss.

And so, without any rational explanation for why I had to continue resisting the status of failure, I decided on acceptance. It would be even nicer if I could have simply accepted myself in a more direct fashion, but this was bliss enough.

It has been all of two and a half months since my change in thinking and I still have to correct myself when I naturally slip back into my futile battle with reality. But the lovely twist is that I must now accept the fact that I fail to automatically integrate my new beliefs about my status as a failure. And perhaps someday I will be jolted by the reality that I have become a success at embracing failure. That would be sweet indeed.

If you’re about to comment about the importance of failure, then you should at least know that you completely misunderstood this post. And I may add you to my list of those who are failures as commenters.

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13 thoughts on “On Being a Failure

  1. Young Mom

    Having compassion for myself is something I am still learning. I also noticed that I’ve got to stop defining success and failure by what I was told about myself, and just be who I am. I realized that when I was getting so frustrated with my almost 3 year old, and when my husband asked why she was irritating me so much I broke down crying and said that I didn’t want her to grow up like me, because I am such a failure. That was when I figured out that I have always been told that Me, myself, is the failure. I was hating things about myself that are just part of my personality, my personality does not make me a failure. It’s not easy to do, but I am slowly getting better and better at accepting who I am, instead of trying so hard to be who I am not.

  2. felicemifa

    Amen, sister.

    The other question I ask myself is “is there such a thing as failure?” Just because there is such and such a thing we attempt and at which we don’t succeed, or a standard to which we hold ourselves that we don’t meet, does that mean we have missed the mark, or does it mean that the mark was wrong?

    1. Rae Post author

      No! Though I think that maybe I should start a list. That way I’d be reminded of how short such a list really is and be better able to focus on all of the really great comments rather than the few that bother me.

  3. Jackie

    I think its the very starting point of Christianity is to recognize that we are imperfect. Sure, there’s the whole “I’m a sinner and need God’s redemption” thing, but I think its more than that. It’s the whole recognition that we aren’t 100% awesome and need God to just get through. I think accepting that is OK. Not accepting it is convincing ourselves that we can be more without God because we should just be able to try harder/do better.

    I suck at lots of stuff. Like studying. Majorly screwing that one up today.

  4. alison

    haha…i second claire’s comment. although i’m 95% sure i’m probably already on that list. good thing i accepted that i was doomed to comment failure long ago, right? :)

    in all seriousness, those flowers look like a mega failure. you always have such good photos to portray your subject pictorially.

  5. Michelle

    I feel like it is not okay to be a failure because why bother existing at all if I don’t have a specific “thing” or “things” that I’m meant to do/be and then actually become/do those things in a well enough way to know I’m doing/being them? I believe I am here to know, love, and serve God, but I’m a failure at all that because I’m an Enneagram Type Four and, simply, it feels emotionally bad being “wired” like that. I’m still working on the acceptance part. Maybe this Lent I will get there.


  6. Calin

    I don’t want to be on that list so I will not comment on the importance of the failure, for sure! :)

    I just want to share my 2 cents about one of the questions you put up there: “why is it not okay to be a failure?” my answer is because cannot have peace with us down deep inside. I think God put in our DNA the desire to succeed, and the ultimate goal would be to make it to the Heaven and reaching this goal involves a lot also from our side. Every time we fail on the way, our discomfort pushes us in other directions where we can be closer to our Goal having tiny successes one after the other.

  7. Myzomela

    A wise woman once said that “only the devil is perfect”. On that reckoning, trying to appear perfect is a pretty bad idea. So I’ll second Jackie.

    That being said, I think you’re a success as a blogger.

    Peace and all good.

  8. Rach

    I love what you say at the end:

    “And perhaps someday I will be jolted by the reality that I have become a success at embracing failure. That would be sweet indeed.”

    And so in that, you become a success. :)

  9. Sarah

    I’m going to be mulling this one over for a while. “Why can’t I just let myself be a failure in this area? Why don’t I?”

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