When you think of the word failure, how would you define it?
According to Wikipedia, failure is described as “the state or condition of not meeting a desirable or intended outcome, and it may be viewed as the opposite of success”, and Merriam-Webster defines it as “falling short”. No matter how a person explains failure, it typically sounds negative. Yet, throughout life I’ve learned that failure doesn’t have to be viewed as bad or something to be avoided at all costs.
In fact, I’ve come to realize that experiencing failure is an important part of life.
Growing up, I was a major perfectionist. I didn’t want to let people down, and I constantly believed I wasn’t measuring up to the expectations I thought people had for me. My identity was shaky and I was insecure. I told myself often, “You are a failure.” I would avoid anything that could lead to failure, or, if it was something I couldn’t get out of, I made sure to practice beforehand. I did all of this out of fear, self-preservation, and a desire to be in control; over time it became a coping mechanism.
Fast forward to a few years after college, when I was working as a nurse, and even though I was more willing to do uncomfortable things, it still scared me and caused me great anxiety. Yet, I wasn’t happy with the life I was living, and I knew I wanted more for my life and my future. I had felt called to serve others overseas for years, and I finally chose to stop wishing and take an actual step in that direction. It was a HUGE step for me, but looking back, it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. A yes that completely changed my life.
While on the World Race, an 11-month mission trip to 11 different countries, I had some crazy highs and also some lows. I was pushed out of my comfort zone, experienced things I had never experienced before, and had to take countless risks. The failure that I had worked so hard for so long to avoid became inevitable if I wanted to grow and learn and live to the fullest on this trip. There were plenty of risks I didn’t take, but plenty that I did. And through these risks and the failure that sometimes came with them, my identity began to shift. I learned that I have a purpose, and that I can and should be myself. I was told I had the capability to be a leader, and I actually began to believe all of these things about myself.
My identity began to grow stronger and more secure, not when I avoided failure, but when I took risks knowing I might fall flat on my face.
A wise mentor I met after coming home from the World Race told me, “You can’t move forward unless you risk, the types of risks that make you cringe just thinking about them.” Having experiences means taking risks…and taking risks means you will eventually fail. As I said before, failure is said to be “falling short” and the “opposite of success”. Is it possible that even if these definitions are true, that failure still has benefits? What if these benefits outweigh success? What if, even if we fall short, we are able to learn a valuable lesson and grow as people?
If the answer to those questions is yes, then why do we avoid failure like it’s the plague?
I think that to move forward, the solution is not for us to avoid failure. No matter how much we try to avoid it, we will all eventually fail at something. Instead, I think that we need to learn how to better cope with failure when it happens.
But, that is a post for another day. Check back next week on Chelsea Bee’s blog, linked below, to learn more about how to handle failure in a healthier way.
My name is Chelsea Bouknight, but you can call me Chelsea Bee. I am a Georgian who loves coffee, nature, and things that smell good! I have been blogging for years, but I recently launched a new website for my blogs. I write about life lessons I am learning, mental health, hobbies, food and coffee. Be sure to visit my blog, and subscribe while you’re there!
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