Dealing With My Failure

6 May 2020 | I sit quietly in my “home office” after a long drive back home. This is after a 24-minute long phone call that left me feeling very numb. I struggle to measure the pulse of my heartbeat or gauge the state of my emotions. At first, I wanted to cry, hoping that I would feel better, then I opted to call someone to vent but eventually, I decided against it. So here I am, alone with my thoughts that can best be described in a few words

” TKay, you are a complete failure” 

The words hit hard, followed by feelings of inadequacy, incompetence and despair.  I do not fully understand how I got here so quickly, but in truth, I realise that I have been fighting this feeling for a few weeks now. What is this feeling you may ask? I am struggling with a feeling that continues to infiltrate my mind, telling me that “I am not good enough”. Every day feels like I am failing at my job. I feel like my efforts are substandard and ideas lack creativity or logic. I feel like I am failing the team I am leading. I feel like I am failing the customers who depend on me to grow their businesses. What fuels this feeling is the ongoing remarks from a few of these very stakeholders that blatantly tell me how incompetent I am.

I try not to take things personally, “It is just business they say”; but I cannot shake off the feeling that I am responsible and accountable. Which in truth I am! My initial thought is that maybe I am extremely hard on myself (which I probably am). I try to own my feelings and face them head-on. To my disappointment, more remarks about “my incompetence and lack of creativity” continued even after changing my strategy.  That feeling of failure amplifies and I start believing that indeed “I am incompetent and inadequate”.

“Failure is a feeling long before it becomes and actual result. It’s vulnerability that breeds with self doubt and then is escalated, often deliberately, by fear” Michelle Obama

Beaten and somewhat broken by the internal war happening in my own mind, I decide to make that phone call to speak to someone.  Emotional, I ask her to listen and allow me to express how I am feeling; fortunately she provides perspective and challenges me to look at things from a different angle. I decide to seek a second opinion, hoping to find some reassurance.  To my surprise, my second sounding board affirms and echoes the sentiments of the first confidant. Both conversations help improve how I am feeling.

Somehow, there is still doubt that lingers and I struggle to sleep. To while away time, I pick my current read ” Becoming” by Michelle Obama. To fully immerse myself in the book, I’ve decided to take my time and not rush through it. So I keep going back to some pages to read them again. I go back to page 43 and therein, I find what I’ll call my life line where she says “failure is a feeling long before it becomes an actual result”.

In that moment, I realize that I’ve allowed myself to feel like a failure. I  realize that I have internalized and personalized many of the situations I’ve experienced (including those beyond my sphere of control). Maybe it is the “perfectionist in me’ or the ” over achiever” that is terrified of failing.  I have been so hard on myself and this had to change. The time is now 23:00 GMT +2 and I consciously decide that I am going to change two things going forward.

 I wasn’t going to let one person’s opinion dislodge everything I thought I knew about myself. Instead, I switched my method without changing my goal.” 

Stop being afraid of failure 

For years I’ve been afraid of making mistakes and tried hard to avoid them at all costs. I’ve been so terrified of failing and dare I fail at anything- forgiving myself was near impossible. I always pursue excellence and nothing less. So, I fail? NOOO! This journey is helping me realize that I cannot always excel at everything or go through life without failing at something (if not everything). I am deciding to stop being afraid of failure and instead embrace the lessons that come with it. I am learning to appreciate that it is okay to make mistakes, to own them, improve and grow from them. Like Michelle says on page 66 ” I wasn’t going to let one person’s opinion dislodge everything I thought I knew about myself. Instead, I switched my method without changing my goal.” I am making a conscious decision to go easy on myself and focus on being a better person, employee and people manager.  I am choosing to take responsibility of the mistakes and be accountable.

Be kind to myself

It goes without saying that “adulting” is a difficult experience. The endless responsibilities such as showing up to work every day, paying bills and surviving all the storms life keeps throwing our way are not for the faint-hearted. Through this experience, I am learning to be kind to myself. I am learning to appreciate all the opportunities in my life and my accomplishments thus far. I realize that I’ve never stopped taking stock of how far I’ve come or celebrating the small and big wins. In choosing to deal with my failures, I am intentional about celebrating everything in my life. I choose to celebrate the opportunity to write this blog post, for the internet I have to upload it. I am grateful for my salary, my family, friends and colleagues but most importantly; I celebrate the gift of life and the opportunity to share this journey with you today.

So have I dealt with my failure? Yes, I am dealing and committing to the journey. My ask today is, let’s be kinder to ourselves and stop fearing failure. I urge us to keep learning from our mistakes and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable. Once that is done, let’s get up, ask for help and keep moving forward.

#escapewithtkay #failure #mistakes #vulnerability #lesotho #blog

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