Throughout my life, I have failed at many things; be top of the class, build a six-pack, develop artistic talent, keep my hair… some things are just not meant to be or stay.
However, this does not have to be a devastating blow or a life sentence. Failure can sometimes be the most positive thing that can happen to you. In fact, I dare to say that the failure you have just experienced, with all its shame and struggles, is precisely what you needed.
How do I know that? Well, to answer that, I have to share with you the most embarrassing and devastating failures of my life and why I am so grateful I had them.
Yep, you read that right.
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Failing at an English Test… Over and Over.
We all have struggled with tests, right? Stress levels are high, blood is pumping intensely, and your hands are all sweaty.
For me, however, this one test stood between me and my goal.
Like most of you, I grew up watching the world through a TV. There was no cable or internet back then (yes, I’m old), so all I watched was movies and shows from America. I grew up seeing the west as the center of the world, and I wanted in.
So I went through the Canadian Immigration process, which required passing a particularly infamous English test. And as you can imagine, I failed, many many times.
Failing a test multiple times can be one of the most demoralizing experiences.
When this happens, nothing seems to work out, despite your efforts and commitment.
It can feel like the universe is conspiring to keep you on the bench.
Eventually, the desperation got the best of me.
I was begging the universe to give me what I wanted. But my pleas fell on deaf ears.
But in reality, I was the one who wasn’t listening.
Now you don’t always need to be crystal clear about your goals and motivations, but you do need to listen to the feedback you get from life.
The feedback that failure was giving me was that my heart was not entirely into it. I was trying to escape a shitty situation by any means, and that meant compromising and settling.
Failing at Relationships… and at Being Single.
The funny thing about relationships is that they are the best at teaching us who we are. The problem is, when we enter a relationship, we are not really interested in lessons.
Now, I’m an old-fashioned guy.
From early adulthood, all I intended was to go down the path of marriage and tradition; Marry young, get a decent job, have a couple of kids, and settle down.
However, I struggled a lot.
Like most young people, I was too focused on getting something out of my relationships instead of bringing something to the table. And as a result, I had little to offer and a lot to learn, which is a tough pill to swallow.
Eventually, all my relationships devolved into unhealthy dependency and breakups.
It can be hard on us to feel incapable of maintaining a relationship. Each one can feel like a devastating failure.
Yet, those failures can be precisely what we need.
For me, failing in my relationships allowed me to experience life and the world by myself. It gave me the space to work on myself and focus on real priorities, like abs.
Having no ties can give us the opportunity to open our horizons to different possibilities and ways of thinking, helping us become more well-rounded people.
Failing at Being my Own Boss…
For most entrepreneurs, success only comes after the 2nd, 3rd, or even 4th attempt. However, I was convinced that we would succeed on our first.
I started my entrepreneurial journey with little fanfare.
We worked insanely hard, built our product, got some clients, and eventually found funding.
Our business was coming together wonderfully, and we were really excited to see our work and experience pay off. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the experience to sustain this pace.
We focused so much on our business’s technical and organizational aspects that we had no bandwidth left to think about the finances.
Eventually, this cost us our financial and mental health. And, once again, failure was there to challenge my direction and teach me a lesson.
Luckily, I was now willing to listen.
At this point, I was reaching a tipping point with my relationship in the corporate world. However, I found a new sense of purpose in expressing my creativity and helping others through my thoughts and experiences.
So I took the leap and walked beyond the fences of my career. I finally broke free from my unhealthy attachments.
I learned my lesson.
Failure Is What You Needed
Throughout our lives, we have plans, hopes, and dreams for the future; We have a vision of our ideal relationship, the dream career, and the perfect life.
When we fail, we get a reality check; we get the opportunity to rethink our path and the feedback we need to reevaluate our goals. So we need to listen carefully.
It hurts when we realize our vision won’t become true, but we have to understand that that vision, that future was never real. At least, not yet.
The future is in the future, is immaterial, and mourning something that doesn’t exist is a poor way to use our limited time on this earth.
So if the future didn’t pan out as we envisioned, no worries, just revise your approach, evaluate your goals, and keep moving.
Don’t let failure become the ball and chain that holds you back. Remember, failure is just feedback; it is NOT an assertion of your identity, and it is certainly not permanent.
Cover Photo by Dmitry Ratushny on Unsplash