When have you felt like a failure?
I awoke this morning from a terrible, vivid dream. Obviously, the dream’s dystopian events are fictional, but the feelings it evoked linger like creepy-tingling nightmarish fog fingers from a supernatural horror movie.
I know exactly what the dream meant: I feel like I’m failing. I feel helpless to do anything more or differently than we’re already doing, and all our efforts might not be enough.
After years of being told I’m too sensitive, I’ve come to recognize my sensitivity as a gift. I’ve learned to trust my gut. So while the dream may have been awful, in the waking light I hear what it said: this particular struggle is causing an inordinate amount of stress.
I’m not a failure, and I could slough off the bad dream with the bed covers. Yet I’m choosing to pay attention. To study this feeling, turning it this way and that as I examine it from new angles. I’m leaning in to receive any wise whispers while rejecting any shaming nonsense.
Here’s a neat trick: while I refuse the shame-label “Failure!” I’m actually a fan of failure itself. To have failed means to have taken a risk that didn’t play out as you’d hoped. Failure means you’ve tried – try, try again. The only way to move forward is to try new things, and as you try things you’ve never done before, you will most likely be bad before you get better. Beginners are meant to be bad, and it’s always worth it to be a beginner if you find joy in the process. Try, fail, try again, fail again, get back up… Persistence is the name of the game.
Our immediate next right step meant taking the dogs for a long stroll on a beautiful morning. Along the way, I blurted thoughts related to the dream and asked for my husband’s input. Thankfully, he gets it. He shares my frustrations and feels similarly stymied. Since the struggle itself won’t disappear anytime soon, at least we’re in it together.
A couple blocks from our return home, we encountered a neighbor we’re friendly with but don’t know well. And wouldn’t you know, during our brief chat she offered a balm-compliment that soothed our sore spot. A lovely little grace gift.
I don’t know your struggles, just as you don’t know the specifics of mine. But I know that so long as we’re breathing we have work to do. I, too, occasionally need some spiritual ibuprofen to soothe the aches and pains caused by the heavy lifting life requires. I can make a solid guess that, so long as you’ve picked up the tools you need for today, you haven’t given up. You are not a failure. And I’m cheering you on.