We live in a world where it's become relatively easy to measure the success of people. We measure by what we read in Forbes magazine; we project we what see in Vogue magazine covers, and we aspire to assimilate our Instagram explore feed. It is not that difficult to measure success or perceive what success looks like
On the other hand, how do we measure failure?
How does a person know if they are failing in life?
Do we have magazines that we can read?
Is there an agreed-upon social construct that outlines how to know if you are failing in life?
I've come to understand that we spend so much time focused on being successful (which we should), but yet we understand very little about failure. I know I used to believe that I am incapable of failure. I only failed because I wanted too; this is statement is both sincere and naive. I never understood failure for what it is, and I certainly didn't know what it means to fail. We're so concerned with being successful that when we fail, we don't know how to handle ourselves. Failure feels like your heart dropping to the ground. It feels like your head is about to explode. It feels like being alone in a dark empty room and only having your thoughts to contend. Failure feels not wanting to try again because you don't want to get burned repeatedly. Sometimes failure even feels like a slap across your face.
I have learned from my encounters and engagements with close people in my life. Failure is painful because of the feelings that come rushing in after getting your results. In my experience, the pain drained me, and I almost gave up on my dreams. In everything that I went through, from the dark lonely days to rising to my redemption, I learned one thing. Pain demands your attention because it wants to make you stronger. The pain only lasts longer when we don't give it due consideration; no wound has ever healed itself.
There is no measurement of failure because we all go through diverse life experiences. Our stories are not the same, nor will they ever be. There is no scale of which we can weigh our failure. There are only people trying to make a life for themselves. It is far more comfortable for people to connect via a shared understanding of ambition than to wallow in their downfalls. Another thought is that we can connect on failure too. We need to normalize this so that we can have healthy conversations about how to live with failing.
I have a plethora of failures, and it wasn't easy to live with them (it's still not). Failure crushes you near to oblivion if you put your heart and soul into a project, venture or business that doesn't work out. If left unchecked, those frustrations become a foundation for you to give up on life. I lived through a difficult season in my life. I had to unpack why I failed. I had to get vulnerable with myself so that I can take the truth and figure out what to do next. I am grateful for that season because it taught me patience. It taught me how to develop a thick skin and be honest with myself.
You can't run away from your failures. You can't make the pain magically go away. You need to dwell in it and allow it to be your teacher. You need to open up your heart so that it bleeds. You can't stop the bleeding if you don't know where it's coming from, so;
It’s okay to fail; fail forward
It’s okay to fail: fail with intention
It’s okay to fail; fail to learn
More than anything that you can learn about failure, the biggest lesson is that you can't do life alone. You need help, and so you should never be ashamed to ask when you need assistance.