Friday, March 4, 2011

Day 61: Learning to Fail

Failure is not an option in a black-and-white world. Even small failures are associated with judgment, shame, inferiority, inadequacy, and worthlessness. I've always liked to live in my comfort zone, and it used to be that the rare occasion when I was forced out, I became a caged animal. Only I was on the outside of the cage pacing back and forth to get back in.

I tried the things I knew I'd succeed at, and avoided everything else at all costs. I almost never put myself out there if failure was a possibility, so after calculating my odds, I usually decided to stay where it was safe rather than jump.

As you can imagine, looking back in my life revels a sea of missed opportunities and things I never tried. It's a little sad to think about all the fun I could've had and abilities I could've developed if I had just taken a small step outside myself. But what's even more disappointing is realizing that passing on those things and the experiences they provided stunted my growth.

Limiting myself to comfortable experiences kept me from maturing into a well-rounded adult, and it's one of the reasons that I'm now learning so many life skills along side my two year old, sometimes at a slower rate than he is.

The beautiful thing about motherhood, is that I don't get the choice to stay comfortable. Failure is a daily occurrence, and there's no backing out or shying away from this job. It's in your face all day every day.

I've spent that past two and a half uncomfortable years working on basic things I could and probably "should" have figured out before I hit college. And now that I'm emerging from the bubble I created out of fear and insecurity, I'm realizing how exhilarating it is to take a chance, and how the process and experience trump the arbitrary success or failure at the end.

Repeatedly falling on my face and picking myself back up as a mother has opened my eyes to resilience and perseverance I never knew I had. It has taught me that who I am, how I see myself, and whether or not I'm okay does not ride on success or failure. And it shows my children what took me so long to learn; that failure is a necessary, useful and beautiful part of life.

Learning to accept and even welcome failure brings me one step closer to embracing freedom and trading in control for trust. And that is no small success.

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