The past few years for my birthday, I try to reflect on what I learned during my last trip around the sun. Well, this year I learned a lot about failure.
You see, last year I had a terrible mental narrative that involved calling myself a “failure” several times a day. Yes, I know that is no bueno and I’m good now, but here’s a thing about me: I fail all the time. I’ve kind of made it a practice. Yup. I’ve had numerous projects never get off the ground. I’ve had many terrible auditions. I’ve had long periods when I don’t get any auditions at all. I can be really hard on myself and get really disappointed.
But this year was different. I had several “failures”, or as I call them now “things that didn’t go how they were supposed to go”, and you know what? I’m totally okay with them. My relationship to failure has shifted. These “failures” just move me on to the next thing, and the next thing, and eventually I’m going to get to the right thing.
And I’m really excited to get to the right thing.
Go with me here for a sec: have you ever written a letter to your younger self? If you haven’t, I highly recommend it. In most cases, people will talk to their younger selves with more softness and compassion than they would their present self. You can take this younger you by the hand and give them the advice you wish you had heard. You can comfort them through whatever they are going through.
Most importantly, writing to your younger self gives you the opportunity to see how far you have grown, and that all of your “failures” have actually helped you.
For example, if I wrote a letter to Jessica circa one year ago about failure it would go something like this:
I don’t mean to start this off as such a downer but this is really important:
You will get where you are going because you failed, not because you succeeded.
You’re in the swamp of suck right now, but just keep saying yes to things that come your way. Sure, not everything is going to work out. Failure is scary, but it ultimately takes you to where you always wanted to go. You learn and re-calibrate. The “failures” are just the road blocks that force you to go in a new direction. The right direction you didn’t even know of until you failed.
Here are a few examples:
- The rejections from those shitty desk jobs leave you available to start working for an incredible company.
- All the failed meetings show you what a Hell Yes agent is when you walk in the door.
- That fun and girly side hustle is still fun and girly.
- And the best part: You make a new home entirely with your Special Snowflake .
So when you fail at something, don’t worry. Experience that fear and embarrassment (even if it feels like you never want to get out of bed again). But when it comes to failing, remember that we fail upwards.