Failure isn’t that big of a word but it has some very big connotations.
What does failure mean? If you look it up you get a whole host of definitions but there are two that resounded more with me. 1. lack of success and 2. a falling short. I have failed my whole life while trying desperately not to.
I did not fail academically. Never even came close. I always had good marks and in Grade 4 was even placed in a class for “gifted” learners. I hated it. I am not gifted. I have a ridiculously good memory for things and I think quickly. That’s it. I’m not saying that I’m not intelligent because I am, but gifted is a whole other ball game and they wanted us to do a lot of abstract thinking. That is not my forte. Give me a formula or have me read something and then ask me to provide you with the correct answer. I will do that. Ask me to ponder or develop or create or stray from the box? No thank you.
I did not need encouragement to do my homework. I was Type A before I knew what Type A was. I would get it done because it needed to be done and I liked getting good marks and I liked being a smart kid.
Socially though? Not awesome. I have been comparing myself to other people also since before I knew what that was or what it meant. I also tried too hard. All. Of. The. Time. Many a morning was spent on the bus engaged in self talk (not out loud I wasn’t that off base!). The self talk went something like this: “Just don’t talk today.” “Don’t say something unless you’re asked.” Every day, I failed at that and invariably said something stupid or ridiculous and was mocked for it. This is not to make you feel sorry for me. I was a tool – the person I am now would have mocked me then too. I never knew when to shut up!
So for all my best efforts to be the best student I could be and help my mom as much as possible and be the best kid I could be and be the “coolest” I could be (which whenever you’re trying to be cool, you’ve already failed), I did fail in some pretty big fucking ways.
Knocked up at 16. First boyfriend, first everything, and hey, here you go, first baby 5 days before you turn 17. I was too stupid to be scared. I was too naive and young to get the gravity of what was happening. After all, I had looked after my brothers a lot as babies and children. I babysat tons in the town I grew up in. Changing diapers, cleaning up, and feeding kids were all familiar things to me. I could do this.
This is how I presented it to anyone who dared challenge I was too young to be a mother. I also got back on the academic train hard – I had strayed a decent amount in the school year leading up to my pregnancy (shockingly…). Now though? Now I was responsible for someone else and now I was that girl and now that meant I had to show everyone I had not failed. So I got back on the honour roll and stayed there. I had my son a week before Easter break. Took that week off, Easter week off like everyone else, and back to school. I took a taxi to the daycare downtown, bus to school, bus back to daycare, bus home with my baby. That was until I got him in the daycare at the school I attended.
Also as a side note – I did not get pregnant because there was a daycare in my school. Whenever anyone uses that as a reason not to fund or support an in school daycare I literally want to punch them in the throat. Get your heads out of your asses. I got pregnant because I was arrogant, careless, and naive.
Side note #2 – I fucking love that kid. He is almost 22 and he is one of the best things that has ever happened to me (along with his brothers and sister and my husband). “Mistake”? Yes. Regret? Absolutely fucking not.
So I graduated on time. I went to university. I married his dad. We had another baby. She’s also amazing and I wasn’t yet 20 when she was born but I was old hand at this by now. Babies and school were my jam.
Arr. O. Gant.
I earned my Bachelor Degree. I finished that degree the very same year I failed yet again. I separated from my husband. It was my choice. I was, at the ripe old age of 23, a woman, of sorts, and not the girl I was at 16. I had grown up a lot. The marriage had not. That’s all that needs to be said. It was not an easy separation because my ex-husband is the epitome of a “nice” guy. No one could understand what the fuck I was doing. Nor did they care to really listen or ask – unless it was to try and persuade me not to do it or berate me.
So now I was a single mother.
Fast forward again. Met Ryan. Married him 10 months later. Had two more kids. Not doing too badly for a teenage mom. We still mainly lived paycheque to paycheque but those paycheques were good and we had what we needed and went shopping when we wanted and ate out more than anyone needs to.
Then, one of my hardest failures came. It was hard because it was very public and it was hard because it was avoidable and it was hard because it put my family in a situation I had fought so hard for so long against.
I got fired.
I am not going to get into that. Not here, not now. In July 2010 I turned our lives upside down because I was burned out and had nothing left. I had been trying for so long to fight upstream, to not fail, to not be a loser, and to do what was right, that I had nothing left. So I quit. What? I said I was fired. That’s true. However, there was an opportunity to try and avoid that and I did everything but. I went out with guns blazing. Sounds pretty cool, right? No. It’s not. I don’t regret not begging forgiveness but I regret not choosing a different way to end that career. A way that didn’t fuck my family over. A way that didn’t mean I still feel like an absolute piece of shit when I think about it.
Money was tight is an understatement. I have been living in a “money is tight” world since I knew what money was. I hated it and now I was the reason for it.
Fast forward to today. I have a new job. It’s a good job. Those babies that I had when I was not much more than that myself, are independent, intelligent, beautiful, fucking amazing people. One lives in Toronto and moved there when he was 18 with not a lot and due to the situation I put us in in 2010, we were still working our way out in when he moved there so we helped when we could but it was not a lot. He has worked his ass off. He is everything. The baby girl is in her second year of University. Working, going to school full time, volunteering a ton, and on the honour roll. She is fierce. She is so fucking fierce and I will forever be in awe of her.
The two late additions, my “little” boys, are beautiful. Athletic, competitive, smart, funny, and caring, and I love them, too, so much my heart hurts.
My marriage is not perfect but it is. It’s perfect in that we don’t quit. In that we are truly opposites and that’s what works for us. He is mind blowingly patient. I am not. He is a true optimist. I am not. I too, am many things he is not, and it just works.
I have had one of the worst weeks I can remember for a very long time. I have struggled every day to keep my head above water. I finally broke down yesterday and talked to my husband about it. My patient loving husband who is always there to stop the blows that I continually throw at myself.
I feel like I’m failing again. Money is tight. I am not as successful of a Beachbody coach as I want to be or think I should be or as EVERYONE ELSE IS. Is that true? No, but it’s what goes through my head on a regular, soul crushing basis.
We often talk about our ‘Why’ as Beachbody coaches. Why are we doing this? There is what is called a “pageant why” and there is your real “Why”. My real why is Failure. I am tired. I am tired of not feeling good enough. I am tired of still trying to be better than that 16 year old girl who got knocked up. The 23 year old that got divorced. The 33 year old that got fired.
So every day I talk myself into following my meal plan. I talk myself into working out. I talk myself into not giving up. Life is not fair. Life is hard. That’s what makes it great. Some of you are like, yeah, you sound like you’re living the dream. Here’s the thing though, when you recognize life is not easy, life is not fair, and you are the one in charge and you are doing your best? The ups in life? Are that much higher. The success is that much sweeter.
I have spent almost 39 years telling myself I am a failure and always will be. I am never going to enjoy financial freedom or be “comfortable” because I came from a home where money was tight. I have used this as an excuse more times than I care to mention. I have hosted so many pity parties it’s embarrassing and I have run out of party games to play.
I am not afraid of hard work. I am only afraid of failing and so it seems easier to quit than to risk failure. It seems easier to run away with my tail tucked between my legs than try harder. Except it’s not. What’s easier leaves me with this weight on my chest, dull ache in my head, and a hatred of self.
It’s time to stop making excuses and to get the fuck out of my own way. I am not telling you any of this because I want pity or a pep rally. I am telling you this because it’s my truth and it’s my why. I am telling you this because even though you see the highlight reel of what truly is a pretty awesome life on Facebook, the depression I spoke of in my video a few days ago is real. That was not a hashtag effort or a bandwagon jump.
It’s time I start honouring my challengers – the ones that make me proud every single day with their determination and perseverance. It’s time I start honouring myself and relish a little in the circumstances that brought me to a platform and place where I can finally stop admitting and succumbing to defeat and failure. Failure is a part of life, don’t get me wrong. Choosing to let failure define and guide you is not and doesn’t have to be and I am deciding, here and now, that it will not.
A lack of success.
Not me. Not anymore.