Friday, February 7, 2014

Failing is an option, quitting is not

Erica at Wornout Soles recently wrote a post about 30 life lessons that she has learned in celebration of turning 30 this month. I found her blog through a group on facebook, and while all of her life lessons really seem to be really great lessons to have learned, I struggled over understanding and believing her lesson #15.

Failing is an option, quitting is not.

I am super competitive with myself. I am a loose-ends-tie-r-upper. When I give myself to something, I give 110%. When I take a class or an exam, I cannot stop working until I have given my very best. Everything has to be perfect in order for me to be proud of my accomplishments.

When I compare myself to others doing similar things (like writing a paper for example), a B is a fairly good grade and I would tell others that this is great, but deep inside me, I don't believe it for myself. I've come to realize the past couple of years, its not that I think that I am better than others, or that I need to be better than others, but rather, It is about my own feelings of self worth. I feel like I have to constantly prove to others (and myself) that I am worthy.

Failure is just not an option for me.

Because failing is a sign of weakness. And if I fail, I wont be worthy.

... Because somewhere along the lines, I have taught myself that to be worthy is to get straight As, to be worthy is to complete ridiculous running challenges, that to be worthy isn't just to study karate but to have a black belt, that to be worthy is to not just contribute money to a good cause but to take up the mantle for that cause. I spread myself too thin, because it isn't enough to work part time and work on a doctoral dissertation, but I have to be doing all this other stuff too, and constantly give my free time to helping others with anything and everything (I seem to be the go to person for a lot of people and always feel myself dropping everything that is me-centered to help others out). 

And all of that eventually leads to burnout.... and worse, feeling like a failure. Because, you know, its not enough to be doing one or two things, when I can instead be doing a LOT of other things.

Years ago, while in undergraduate, I was going through a rough spell. And I was with a dear friend and talking about something that was emotional and I excused myself to cry. I NEVER want to let anyone see me cry, because to me, it shows weakness. I'm a super emotional person anyway, but I don't want others to see tears. Anyway, after I was done crying in the bathroom, I came back out and my friend had a come-to talk with me. I don't remember anything of that conversation or the circumstances except this. After a brief pause where he asked if i was ok, he said to me:

Amy, why are you so afraid of crying in front of others? Crying is a natural expression, let yourself be human.

Those words have since stuck with me. And frequently when I have a run, or screw up something, I remind myself that it is ok to be human, and try to let go. And with that, I realize that Erica from Wornout Soles is right... failure is natural. All children who learn to walk fall down. And it hurts and they cry. But they don't quit, and eventually they are able to walk a few more steps without falling down. They learn through perseverance and dedication. Perseverance and a refusal to quit are behaviors that allow us to become better and stronger people. Those are the behaviors that strengthen our souls and decrease the odds of failing the next time.

All that being said, I finally made a leap and got myself a gym membership at LA Fitness. I haven't been to a gym in years, but in South Florida heat, it almost makes sense because running can be so brutal outside sometimes. Plus the Dr. wants me to work more x-training in. I wanted this particular gym because through membership, I would have access to all sorts of classes like spinning, Zumba, Latin heat, etc. I'm terrified of weight machines, but I thought these classes would be a great way to get out there and push my comfort zone. I've now taken 2 classes there, and have learned the following:

1) I am built like an out of shape linebacker.
2) This white girl ain't got no rhythm. 
3) it is entirely impossible to do a class without staring at the amazing asses on the other girls. 
4) I have the grace of Steve Urkel.
5) I look and feel like a fool

But all of those things combined, I am finding that I am really enjoying this new activity. I'm nervous and scared, and I think I just need to keep it in perspective.

I'm fairly sure that at some point, I'm gonna fail (just look at that list above), but I wont be quitting any time soon.

(And maybe this will be just the remedy for not having enough me time.)


  1. What a though provoking post. I think you've hit the nail on the head. Although I have some areas of my life where I set my standards too high, I have been successful in "lowering the bar" in other areas to my great mental sanity benefit. While I don't want to miss a deadline or turn in subpar work at my job, if my living room floor is covered in toys or my plants die, well that's ok. I've found this to be critical in parenting. Birthday parties don't have to be pinterest-worthy. Sorry, I'm rambling, but I think this was a great post. And nobody is good at Zumba at first. I don't think I'd do it if there were mirrors in the room. Since there aren't I can imagine I'm a dance goddess even though I am so so not!

  2. This is a beautifully written post! A lot of thoughts are like my own. I am one of those weird people that enjoy failing at times, because I know when I do I learn so much from it and things work out better for me in the end. But like you said, the key is to be okay with failing, but never quitting!