Saturday, October 2, 2010

thoughts about failure

I have not been able to blog all week, mainly because I have had a major assignment due and procrastinating by writing a blog rather than simply sitting...well it just felt too productive so I didn't do it.

I have been thinking a lot about failure lately. About how there is so much pressure to do well. All the time. Not just at school, or work, but life in general. We all go around only doing the things that we are good at; or avoiding things just because we are scared we may not get it quite right. Scared of being a 'failure'. When really you need to fail to progress in life. To become the person you want to be. To experience life as it should be experienced, not simply through the little protective bubbles we put around ourselves. 

For a long time (as long as I can remember) I wanted to be perfect. At everything. In every way. Failure terrified me. But I did fail. All the time. 
I was so far from the perfection I craved that by the time I reached college my self-esteem was in shatters. But I had a life plan you see. Everything was going to change. I was going to reinvent myself at college, make millions of friends, get top marks, study law, graduate at 23, buy my own house and become somebody. 

Then college happened. And I realised that I wasn't going to get into law. I was just not good enough. And I hadn't reinvented myself at all. I was still the nervous neurotic self-deprecating self I always had been. My plan vanished. And I was left with nothing. I didn't know where I was going, I was so uncertain about the future..and I was still me. 

So I stopped eating. 

That was something I could do. It was something I wasn't failing at. All my self-esteem, every part of me was focused on this one thing. Every kilo lost was a win for me. It became my life. I didn't have to worry about the future any more. I didn't have to be terrified of change. Because when you stop eating nothing ever changes. Life just stops. 

Obviously my family didn't let that continue. I got shoved into an out-patient program, 3 days a week of intensive cognitive-behavioural therapy. It didn't do anything. I hated the place, I hated my family for putting me there. Most of all I hated myself. 

But one day, as I was arguing with the dietician for the millionth time about having to have an extra half cup of juice, she just looked at me and said 'Do you want to get better on not? Because it is up to you and only you'. And she was right. I hadn't realised it before. It was my choice. And so I did the most difficult thing I have ever done.

I decided to get better.

I would like to say I was out of there in a week, all smiles and roses, but it was a year of hard work.I remember on my last day of school I looked around and realised something. I did have friends. And they were amazing. I did like my teachers and the classes. I loved my home and my family. And I loved college too. I could have had an amazing time. I didn't have to reinvent myself or stop failing. If I had decided to just relax and give myself a break things would have been great. It wasn't the situation that had made me miserable at all. It was only me. All of it was my choice.

So I chose to life live and enjoy it. I didn't get into law.. and that was ok. I modified my plans and started a Social Work/Arts degree instead. And since then my plans have kept on changing. I make a mistake, learn from it, and try something new. It wasn't failing that had made me a failure. It was giving up and not trying. I would count my biggest failure (not eating) as one of my biggest successes too. It taught me more than I ever thought I would learn, and it has encouraged to make the most of life. To appreciate it. And to appreciate myself, warts and all (figuratively and literally!). 

(n.b. it also stopped me from being such a middle-class egotistic teenage drama queen. Mostly.. :p )

Besides, all the winners that I know aren't amazing at everything. They aren't the smartest people, or the most good looking, they don't have amazing jobs and stacks of money.. but they are the kindest. They are the people who hold doors open for someone, give money to homeless people, and make random strangers smile. If I can make someone's life a little bit better, then I guess I'll be a winner too. Failures and all.


Brandi said...

Kaylia, this is such an amazing post. Thank you for being so willing to share everything with us. I've changed my plans many times in life (at first, I wanted to be an actress and went to college to do precisely that), but the biggest thing I've learned is that what we typically see as marks of success -- money, property, fame -- aren't. The people I consider failures are the ones who aren't willing to take risks where it matters, on things like love and honesty and friendship. I think people of our generation are living differently than our parents and grandparents, and that's kinda exciting. Hope you have a brilliant weekend, dear friend.

kara lynn said...

after we are battered down, broken, cracked, a mess. is when we are able to pick up the fibers of life and there we learn what really matters. firstly our compassion and love for other people grows extensively when we are broken to rock bottom. i consider my trials in this area the greatest blessing in my life. or i never would have become the person i am today. sounds cliche' but absolutely true.

xo much love to you dear!

together we are on a quest for fearlessness.

ellecupcake said...

This was such a nice post to read. I feel like that a lot. I always want to give up on the things I want most in life because I see people with those things and they make it look so easy. When really.. I'm sure they had to work for those things just like I am trying to do. Mainly being more outgoing and creative. Its hard to get yourself out there and its hard to fail. But its nice to know you tried. I guess I would rather be upset that I tried and failed.. than not tried at all. Then you know you just need to try another approach. :) Thanks for sharing your story <3

Emily Lou said...

beautiful post.
you are definitely a winner for overcoming all that you have. your story can inspire so many people! don't ever stop telling it. :)