The Feat of Failure
I'd like to skip the part where we do the whole "Where have you been?" "Why weren't you blogging?" and just dive in head first.
You know the story of Icarus?
He donned wings and just couldn't help flying too close to the sun and well... he fell.
The higher they go... well you know the rest.
Well I free fell people.
For a YEAR. An entire mother loving year.
I realized I took on more than the one woman show that I am could handle. Fast, and in a hurry.
That whole old adage of 'Be careful what you wish for,' became all too true.
I got diagnosed with ADHD. At 27 years old; and as an overachiever. A receiver of full ride scholarships back in 'my day.' And yes, it was a Wednesday.
Turns out that being a constant multitasker who can listen to music while watching TV (with subtitles), dye hair extensions, and yell at the kids from the couch all while talking on the phone and folding laundry isn't just a mom thing.
Mom, wife, paralegal, fashionista, blogger, ass kicker, and head case. Owner of an adderall prescription to boot. Sometimes screamy wife and angry mom. Yep, that's me.
I let people tell me I couldn't write about life because I couldn't keep my own together. 'Glass houses' and all that.
I put on weight. 'Put that dress in the back of the closet' weight.
And then I took the Adderall, couldn't eat and lost the weight.
I became a person I don't recognize. Still don't really recognize, but we're getting there.
And the writer's block... something I've never really experienced as a constant journal, essay, poetry, fiction, prattle-off-prose-in-the-back-of-a-planner-er type of gal.
Being brought down to earth from my (what I now know is an ADHD induced hyper conscious mind) fantasy cloud was rude, to say the least of it. Icarus ain't got nothing on me.
I went from a Lisa Frank glitter type acid trip mind party to a dead halt of quiet for 12 hours a day.
I realized I was not as 'with it' and on top of my life as I thought.
I knew I had to shape up, and I'm still shaving off pieces of my crazy.
I have cried.
I still cry occasionally.
I hate being an organized big girl and dealing with the rapid fire that is my sober untreated mind/life. Ignorance is bliss, you know.
I felt like I dealt these cards to my child, who was also diagnosed with ADHD in very close proximity to me. You can read more about that here.
But you know what?
It's all good.
Why, you may ask?
Because there are incredible advantages in failing. And I've finally gotten tired enough of feeling sorry for myself to round them up, in hopes that my fall will be your flight.
Failure is humbling
Contrary to the popular connotation, humility has little to do with being lowly and mousy. It's the acknowledgement that something bigger than you exists.
If you've spent any time around here then you know that I'm a Christian; but whatever you believe, be it Karma, crystal energy, buddha, Judaism, Islam, fate; hell, just doing good in general - the realization that there is something at work so much larger than you is a powerful and grounding experience,
So many of us define ourselves by this one of a kind existence, thinking that like a snowflake, we are unique and entitled to be catered to on the basis of that uniqueness. And while I do err on the side of the unique and standing for being yourself, (I mean, hello, have you seen what I write?) there's something to be said about finding yourself at the mercy of the forces beyond your own existence. In coming to grips with the fact that there are just some things that you cannot and will not control. That some of those things will make you "set down," as my grandma would say. And more than that, there is freedom in relinquishing the control freak within you and realizing, "Hey, I'm just one cog in the wheel, buddy." When you bring yourself down from that hot air balloon place we've all learned to live through cute quotes and memes about getting our dreams, you can see that everything just isn't about you. It's a sobering reality. But a necessary one. An understanding of your responsibility as a part of the bigger picture is never a bad thing.
In fact, it's a powerful tool. One that has brought me a to a place where my pride is no longer bigger than my ability to help someone reading this; someone who needs to hear this, see this, and see that every pretty face on the internet writing a cute little blog isn't living the dream with picture perfect children and a picture perfect life that you cannot seem to attain. None of us do. It gives credence to the human condition and allows us to think further than our own nose to our impact on our own situations and our contribution to the world.
Failure is A Mirror
If you want to see and understand yourself, fail. Fail, and fall hard. It will show you more about yourself than all the introspection you could try and objectively do in the world. Failure brings us to our lowest, most scrappiest place. Desperation that takes you to your knees teaches you what you are made of. Will you rise or will you fold? What got you here? How did you let this happen? Can you even admit that you had a hand in letting this happen?
Suddenly, fallacies that you were never present minded enough to inspect about yourself become of the utmost importance. Because you're low, you have no choice but to look around you and truly come to grips with your present situation. To deal with your honest self. Will you make excuses, or will you be accountable? If I'm honest, accountability has always been a sore spot for me. I don't want to be at fault for anything. I'm a pleaser. I want to be the golden one. I have classic 'oldest child' syndrome and simply must succeed and outdo my counterparts; so when cornered, I bob, I weave - I do anything except accept responsibility. But when you're forced to a low place by everything around you, like the invisible hand of gravity has somehow grounded you, you find yourself incapable of looking away from your reality.
In the end, you're in the driver's seat of your own life. And while some of us are most definitely dealt a bad hand, you cannot be a victim and a success story at the same time. You have to take a good long look at yourself and ask - Will I stay here, or will I take flight again?
Failure Shows You Your Strengths
Counterintuitive, yes. But in the everlasting words of Nene Leakes, "I said what I said." How could failing teach you where your strength lies? Simply put: in realizing what is not for you.
I am not an organizer. I like my mess. My mess is me and I am my mess. I broke my closet last week because it's maxed to the top with clothes all because I was trying to find my beige boot which is not the same as my nude boot, a concept my husband couldn't grasp. He thinks I'm a hoarder, I say a place for every thing and everything in its place. In a mountain. In the closet he needs to fix.
I own my mess.
I am not a financial wiz kid. Uncle Sam says I should be very well off; I tell him like Carrie Bradshaw that I like my money where I can see, it in my (broken) closet, and burned my 1099 (well that last part isn't true.)
I had to learn to map the money out and separate the "me" money from the "grown up" money. The more we get (it) together, the happier we'll be.
What I am is a mental-visual aficionado. I can see the things I think like no other. I am quick mentally; quicker than most other people. I make mental leaps and bounds from subject to subject in a way that seems very random, but in my world is very tethered. But in learning that, I had to learn to slow down. I began to see what the speed had me missing. I am an emotional force, and I hold no punches when it comes to what I believe in, but I still need work on not being the verbal version of "Bam-Bam" from the Flintstones when fired up.
When you can see where you fall short, you can also begin to see where you excel, and in that truth, you can really begin to work on being a better you. On learning when to dial it back and coast, and when to punch it full force.
Failure Shows You Who's Rooting for You
I wish I could tell you everyone who says they're there for you really was. But they aren't. And sometimes coming way down to Earth can really show you that. The truth is that when you're down and truly begin to look around for a hand to pull you up, you will see who was really along for the ride and who was just down to uber it for the occasion.
Something about seeing the fallen brings the true color out of people. The closest people to you will surprise you in the best and worst of ways, but its an undeniably necessary reality that we have to face. Pay attention to who claps when you win, who prays on your downfall, and who walks by as if they don't see that you've fallen to the ground.
Failure Teaches You To Fight
When you are truly at your lowest denominator a certain instinct kicks in. Either you will lay down and just accept your current fate, or you will drag your carcass up and take no prisoners. Are you a damsel in distress or are you Wonder Woman? It's nice to be saved, it's even more rewarding to save your own self.
As someone who's taken my fair share of turns in the therapist's office, I can say that mental health and your state of mind can be not only emotionally but physically debilitating. It can feel like your heart will give out. Like you're struggling just to get through the motions. Panic attacks feel like death. If my 10 year old asthma attacks did push ups and took steroids, that would be my anxiety now. But nonetheless, when I hit rock bottom, maybe not immediately, but eventually, something clicks, and I refuse to give in.
Failure is like that. You will have to make a choice about how your own story goes. Sometimes no one wants to help. They don't have the pen to write this book, you do. There will be times when even the best intentioned people just won't have time to come over and hold you until all of your broken pieces fit together. Sometimes those well intentioned people are 80% of the cause of your frustration. Life is messy that way. But Failure says, "Hey girl, are you going to stay down here or come show me what you're made of?" And I, for one, am not one to turn down a fight. How about you?
Failure Builds Conquerers
What is light without darkness? A hero without a villain? Batman without Robin? That last one probably doesn't belong there but I'm keeping it. You get the point.
I am, and you are, only a failure when we choose to stay down. What would life be like if everything were easy? Boring for starters. The exhilaration we feel when we succeed is because we know, from the time we first tried to take a step and stumbled, what it feels like to fall instead of fly. Like Icarus, we all want to touch the sun, but not one of us wants to burn. What would you be willing to experience to live the life you're truly meant to live? And when you can answer that question with an "anything," you are no longer the victim. You are the victor.
When I was 18 and didn't even really know what I was doing, I tattooed the words, "One Step At a Time" on my left foot. I cannot tell you how many times in the past year I have looked down at that foot, shoved into spiked heels, sitting in my car wishing I could keep driving past all of my responsibilities and shortcomings, and have been compelled to push on. To answer the call of an 18 year old optimistic girl (fool) who just didn't know what the next ten years would avalanche onto her. But I look. I see the words, I remember the sentiment, the feeling; like a premonition that I would need to know. To slow down, before I even knew I was moving too fast. And keep on walking. Melted wings and all.
Will you fail with me?