This post at my spiritual mentor’s blog has me thinking about failure and success today. My birthday is rapidly approaching (Friday) and this week I’ve been pretty down about it and taking stock of a lot of my failures. I’ll be 31 and I lack a degree, my own home or even a nice rental, or a stable income. I’m about to go through a divorce, I’m a single mom, and my sweetie lives 700 miles away from me. This isn’t the way I imagined my life being by the time I entered my thirties. Yet, here it is.
What is the failure and what is the success?
Hard to say. Did my marriage fail because it ended? No, I don’t think so. My marriage had been in a state of failure for some time before we finally decided to end it. My lack of a degree is a result of a choice not to go school right out of high-school and instead do marriage and family. Is this a failure? Not exactly, but I wish I had done it differently. Certainly there’s no failure in being a single mom or choosing to work for myself part time while going to school, resulting in an unstable income. So why does it feel like failure at times?
Because it feels like the opposite of success…but by who’s definition? Society puts so much pressure on us to have it all together: great relationship, kids, career, and twice a year vacations.
My relationship to failure is dingy; tinted by my demon of shame. This is something I’ve been working on for years and is likely a post all in its own right. My relationship to success is harder to get ahold of.
I feel successful when projects succeed, when my writing receives the praise of one of my writing mentors. Beyond that it gets harder to define the moments when I feel successful.
What about my life feels successful? Traveling. Writing. My spiritual practice. My commitment to my lover, my friends, my daughter, my church, and my mystery school.
So I continue to sit with failure and success. What feels successful in your life? How did a failure lead to success for you?