Learning not to Fear Failure

“When we begin to take our failures non-seriously, it means we are ceasing to be afraid of them. It is of immense importance to learn to laugh at ourselves” — Katherine Mansfield

In any given day, we will succeed at some things and fail at others. Failure happens to some degree every day. Over time, If we lose our sense of humor, we can begin to feel badly about our failures, letting those feelings compound into a statement about our self-worth. After all, who wants to fail?

There are times when a failure seems too big to make us laugh, and indeed some mistakes aren’t that funny. In those cases, does it make sense to continue to wallow in self-loathing, or to earnestly move forward in a new direction. Every moment offers us a chance for a new direction, and if we are mired in self loathing about our failures, we lose the chance to see the new opportunities that are available to us in the present moment.

I am resisting the temptation to see my move into a job that didn’t suit me as a failure. It was a learning experience, and I do not regret making the decision to change directions after several attempts to make it work. Resilience is one of my strengths. Having gone through much harder times, bigger failures in my life, I remain an eternal optimist, with a healthy dose of sardonic cynicism to keep me from being too naive.

Early in my recovery from an eating disorder, I had a sponsor who gave me a stuffed, quilted pig she had lovingly made for me. It seemed rather ironic, given my condition, but the words she said when she presented it to me have always stayed with me, even 35 years later. Her words were simple “Don’t wallow in it!”

I don’t expect everything in life to work out, and I don’t expect myself to be perfect. I know I will make mistakes, fail, fall down, and do dumb things. Sometimes I will be able to laugh at these things, and sometimes I will need to take a moment to cry.

Life itself fails us at times, and all we can do is decide, and decide, and decide again. Where to next?

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A New Day

I have this overwhelming sense that I should be doing something. I’m so used to rushing around all the time. I have 60 extra hours a week at least now that I am not working. It is glorious and my body and mind haven’t quite adjusted yet. I maintained a high gear during the holiday and today is the first day with nothing ahead of me that has to be done. Wow it feels weird.I don’t miss the cube at all!

Looking Forward

The last of our guests left yesterday, and my favorite part of the Christmas season has happened – taking down the Christmas decorations. Call me a kill-joy, but there is something so refreshing about clearing out the clutter of excess that accompanies the season and returning to my old familiar routine. I am learning that I have definite limits when it comes to holiday festivities, and I am making peace with that part of myself.

For many years now, several of my closest family members have been scattered across the country. I am not complaining about it, but it adds to the intensity of the holidays by needing to cram so many different gatherings close together in order to see everyone when they are in town. As I said in my previous post, this is a challenge for someone who needs to have some breathing space in between events. But when everyone finally departs, I am left with a bittersweet longing for more opportunities to spend with them without all the restrictions of time and travel. No sooner than I am standing in my driveway waving good-bye to a car load of my loved ones, or driving away from the airport after dropping off one of my darling daughters, I am hit with a mixture of emotions I can scarcely describe.

This year it has been easier, because I am not working. I have seriously enjoyed not having that additional stress. I have been sleeping longer, getting things done around the house, babysitting my granddaughter, spending more time with family and friends, and I even read an entire book in the past week. These are luxuries that I do not take for granted.

I am not making any New Year’s resolutions. I set some goals for myself when I quit my job, and I am looking forward to blogging about the journey as I sort it all out.  I want to figure out a way to align my passions for human rights, the environment, women’s issues, mental health advocacy, and spiritual awareness with whatever career path I choose next.

“You can’t not work…” and other Holiday Greetings

“People are… Full of contradictions. They’re lonely. And then they’re not. They’re missed. And then they’re not.”
― Kou Yoneda漂えど沈まず、されど泣きもせず [Tadayoedo Shizumazu Saredo Naki Mo Sezu]

The holiday season has never been my favorite. Mainly because I can only handle so many social gatherings before needing to retreat into my own space. This is a relatively new discovery about myself, rather, a part of myself that I am just now allowing myself to acknowledge. When I get together with a group of people, I can handle it for about two hours, and then I am ready to go home. It doesn’t matter whether I am having a great time or not, I just don’t have the capacity to do it for much longer than that. I suppose this has to do with my anxiety levels, and even though I don’t struggle nearly as much with it as I used to (thanks to years of therapy and a little medicine), I am careful not to exceed what I know is my limit. When I exceed those limits,  I tend to overeat, over drink, and become hyper-focused on things that bother me.  It is funny though, that once rested, I am ready to do it all over again.

Since quitting my job at the beginning of December, I have had a surprisingly full schedule of traveling, babysitting, spending time helping my friend through a mental health crisis, hosting my fiance’s (I’ll call him Alto) family and then my family, and going to many holiday parties. I am not sure how I ever would have managed all this if I was still working. In the past, going to work was my excuse to get away when I had exceeded my limit of tolerance. Usually work was quiet during the holidays, with many people taking off; and going into an empty, quiet office was a welcome escape.

Not working has been a blessing this year, though it was challenging listening to everyone’s comments about it.

“Why did you leave such a great job?”

“Are you looking for another job, you’re too young to retire?!”

You can’t not work….”

“What are you going to do now, isn’t it going to be hard to find a job at your age?”

“It must be nice to not have to work! I’m the only one in my family who works…”

“Wish I had the luxury of not working”

I’ve become particularly prickly when Alto says things like, “what do you mean you didn’t have time to go grocery shopping?”, “you slept til what time?”, or “what did you do all day?” The good thing about him is that all I need to do is tell him how I’m feeling and he listens and responds kindly. Indeed he was the one who supported my decision to quit the job and seek other opportunities; so it is mostly my own guilt and insecurities causing me to react the way I do to his comments.

The best part of the holiday season for me is having both of my daughters and my grand-daughter staying at my house this week. It was wonderful waking up and seeing their adorable faces. We haven’t been able to all be together in one place in over a year. When everyone departs, I’ll be sad, and the quiet house will be both comforting and a poignant reminder of how much I’ll miss them until next time.