I am amazing.
I fail. I mess up all the freaking time. I flunked out of both university and community college. I was once taken by ambulance from a night club (which I have no recollection of even being at) to the hospital where I woke up to my furious and terrifying mother wearing an expression of truly epic disappointment. When I did finally go back to school, I failed one of my nursing practicum placements. I was stuck in a roller-coaster romantic relationship for years before I finally mustered the courage and respect for myself to walk away. I don’t know how to paint. I never wear makeup. I pinched my son’s leg in his diaper snap last week which made him scream bloody murder. I have a plant in my window that I’ve named Tom because it’s extremely Hardy and I have constantly and accidentally tried very hard to kill him over the last three years. Often when my husband interrupts my focus and I’m not ready for it, I snap at him when he doesn’t deserve it. I forget to text friends back for five days even though I could have texted them right back when I first saw it because is it really that hard to just pause for 35 seconds and acknowledge that you at least received the message? The answer for me is apparently yes, you might as well be asking me to pull teeth from a duck. I hope there isn’t actually a species of duck out there that does have teeth because I will look very foolish for using that analogy to illustrate how impossible it is for me to send a quick message back. Which would then make it a perfect analogy because obviously it isn’t impossible, it is something I just don’t do; much like I don’t pull teeth from a duck.
I suck at so many things. I am so, so human. Here is the point where you might start wondering if I have any redeeming qualities at all, or at least whether or not I have any self-esteem!
At one point in my life, things like this kept me awake at night. I’d lie there in the dark afraid that someone out there in the world remembered that really silly thing I’d done seven years ago and whether the relevant person would show up in the coffee shop the next morning and I would have to conspicuously avoid eye contact while wondering whether they remembered me, while also being aware of the fact that conspicuously avoiding eye contact would probably draw more attention to myself and make it more likely that they would remember me and then go home to tell all of their friends and family that they ran into the silliest person in the world at the coffee shop. Never mind that the person I was thinking about was probably asleep in their own bed two provinces over dreaming about the silly thing they did three years ago and were worried about running into that relevant person at the grocery store the next day!
I passed that nursing program out of sheer determination to not fail another college program (and I only worked as a nurse for a year after I graduated, for anyone who is keeping score on the fail-o-meter). I realized that my opinion is the only one that matters over whether or not I should wear makeup and that if I don’t freaking want to, my husband will still grab my butt as I walk past him. I take paint night classes with friends so I get to cover entire canvasses with beautiful brushstrokes that sometimes don’t add up to a recognizable finished product. Quite frankly, that’s my takeaway from a lot of famous art so if anyone wants to pass my information on to the Louvre, I would be perfectly happy to contribute an entire gallery of my amazing work for a season or two. I can have it ready next week!
Above all, I realized that taking ownership over my so-called failures removed their power over me. If I did something silly seven years ago, it was okay for me to be honest about it. If I had hurt someone, I could contact them in this magical age of immediate connection and apologize and not have to be afraid of the stories they told everyone else. If I royally goofed up somewhere in my past, I could share my experience with someone else to help them feel understood. I stopped wearing makeup because I owned the fact that I did not want to wear it, rather than wear it because I let myself live under someone else’s imagined control. I learned that while I was worrying myself sick over what everyone else might be thinking of me, everyone else was probably worrying themselves sick over what everyone else was thinking of them. What a silly cycle we perpetuate for ourselves! And I learned that if I never failed I could never grow.
I fail. I mess up all the freaking time. I learn from my mistakes and I forgive myself because I am so, so human. I am not a failure. You probably fail. You might feel like you mess up all the freaking time. Give yourself permission to forgive yourself. Learn from your mistakes and conquer them rather than let them freeze you and force you into a life of fear. You are amazing; do amazing.