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  • Writer's pictureJordan Valdez

The one about failure

This is a piece about perspective. I hope something in it helps you heal.

Failure as a concept is relative. It varies from person to person, changes in different situations and differs in severity. It is subjective, one-sided. And it is also universal. Failure is inevitable. We as humans are created imperfect. We will make mistakes, we will fail. So why is it so difficult to accept failure when it comes into our lives? The simple answer.. because it fucking sucks.

We spend our days attempting to succeed at our endeavors. Whether that be in school, at work, in our side hustles, in sports, in creativity, whatever it may be, we desire victory. We want to win. That is the wiring of our brains and our society. Success is the ultimate prize. So when we are less than successful it hurts. It brings us down, it clouds are thoughts with sadness and frustration and it feels like a physical punch to the gut. We didn’t ask for adversity. We tried our best and came up short which is often times impossible to comprehend. How could it not have worked? Why didn’t I achieve my goal? How did we fail? We will ask these questions until the end of our days.

But I think the most difficult part of failure is that it tends to feel finite. That moment in which we thought we would succeed has passed and we cannot get it back. The thing we waited for is gone and that is more painful than anything else. The ability to go back and do it all again seems like the holy grail of opportunities and is entirely unreachable. It’s maddening, truly. After all of the hard work, the sweat and soreness, the exhaustion of our minds, the praying and didn’t happen. And there’s nothing we can do about it.

Except we are taught that there is. We are taught to learn from our failures. We are told that there is a reason that we failed and maybe someday we’ll get to know why. We are encouraged to reflect upon our efforts, to try to find what went wrong and discover what we can do better next time. Yeah well it should’ve worked this time. I did everything I was supposed to do; the signs were all there. The angle numbers presented themselves and I was sure it was finally my time to stand in the sun. But it wasn’t, so respectfully, fuck off with your self-reflection BS and let me be sad. Your anecdotes of disappointment leading to something greater are not wanted here. This feeling sucks and that is ok.

It is completely valid to live in that hurt for a moment. Feel the anger, the frustration and the regret. Let the tears fall; let the emotions live. Then take a deep breath and exhale. Now think about it for one second. That sucked but I’m still here. I get to go on. What does that mean to you? Do you want to try again at what you failed? Can you? How important is that goal? It might seem impossible but you can try again. It’s going to feel daunting thinking about all the hard work you just put in and having to do it all over again but you’ll start to feel a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s not over until you decide it’s over. I know that in some cases you had one shot to achieve your goal, but if you created that one shot for yourself, then I bet you can do it again. It might not be the exact same situation but it can sure as hell feel equally as momentous.

People always tell us that it’s ok to fail. That without failure, there can be no success. They’re not wrong. Everyone fails. It doesn’t make it hurt less when it happens to you but it’s the truth. What we do about it is what will begin to define your next journey. Will you pick yourself up and try again? Will you decide that although your efforts were valiant, it feels like it’s time to move on. Will you turn your failure into drive and work with deeper intention until your goals are reached, no matter how long it takes? That’s up to you and you alone to decide and that my friends is liberating. There might be obstacles or different circumstances this go around but you’ll look at them objectively and decide on a path that feels most pointed towards success.

I told you that this was a piece about perspective. The thing about perspective is that it is entirely yours to decide upon. How will you look at your life after you’ve failed? How will you look back on the journey you took to get where you are today? That relies solely on you. And right now it might feel like it was all a waste, or if that one thing hadn’t gone wrong then you might have succeeded, and that’s ok. But eventually you have to realize that what happened happened and now you get to move on—key word GET. You’re still here, you survived it, and you get to try again.

I’m so sorry you feel like you failed, but I believe in you and your dreams. The journey leading up to this was not a waste, so remember everything else that it gave you. Take pride in your efforts because you did more already than you probably thought you could. And one way or another you will find all the success you’ve ever desired because you decided to keep on fighting for what you want most out of this life.

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