Today, I want to share a very personal experience with you. It’s about my failures, and I know it’s not easy to admit failure, especially when it’s your own fault. But I’m going to talk about it because I believe it’s important to learn from our mistakes and share our experiences with others.
To understand my story, you need to know a little more about me. I grew up in a chaotic and lonely environment where I felt out of control. I learned early on to rely on myself and control everything I could. I lived in two worlds, one where I was quiet and non-confrontational at home and another where I showed kindness to everyone I met outside the home. I worked hard to blend in and make others feel included because I always felt like an outsider.
I became achievement-based and attached my self-worth to my accomplishments. I was strangely confident despite the difficulties I faced. I didn’t realize it then, but accomplishments were something I could put all my time and energy into. They were something I could hide behind that couldn’t be taken away from me. However, I didn’t realize the toll this mindset was taking on me until I hit rock bottom. I lost everything I had worked so hard for, including my marriage and the community I worked so hard to build.
As I became an adult I battled this internal confidence I felt in my ability to do anything, and this balance I felt of not quite doing too much in order to avoid what I perceived to be conflict. This resulted in starting and stopping companies a dozen times in my 20s, always balancing the desire for accomplishment and praise outside the home with the need to stay small within the home.
By the time I got to my late 20s, I had recognized this pattern and was self-aware enough to know I was never going to actually feel fulfilled by quitting over and over again. During this period of time is when I started one of the companies I would stick with – Evolve Workshops.
If you don’t know, Evolve is an international educational company for creatives that I started to strengthen the community around me, find friends, and help others create sustainable businesses. This is where nearly all my outside fulfillment came from.
So while I was staying small in my home still, within my friendships and relationships, Evolve was where I could be myself. I could relish in my accomplishments, I could help others achieve greatness. I was living a dual life.
Eventually, this duality became too much to ignore. It was too much unhappiness to not face, too much disconnect to not address. But I had finally learned that accomplishments meant nothing when you couldn’t share them with those you love. I wanted more for myself. I wanted to be more for those that I loved. I wanted to learn to stop numbing and face the painful things head-on. I wanted to stop teaching about finding oneself and actually do the damn thing. So I ended up divorced.
It was the hardest thing I ever did, ever. In my mind, I thought I’d deal with the issue at hand, which in my case was a marriage that wasn’t working, and I’d continue on my journey. No one prepared me for the grief I would feel coming off of it. Instead of my fantasy of leaning into my community and allowing myself to grow, to build it larger, to connect better without restraint, to work harder with more freedom – I literally did the exact opposite.
I fell apart. I disconnected from everyone, and it trashed the community I had worked so hard to build. But, I learned so much about myself along the way. Through therapy and self-reflection, I learned to forgive myself and others. I learned to be more present and grateful for the small things in life. I learned to focus on my values, my relationships, and my mental health.
Finally, the big realization came to me. It wasn’t until I was alone on a trip to Maui that I finally realized that the only person I couldn’t outrun is myself. I was the only one holding myself back, a fact I needed to face in order to move forward.
Can you relate? Perhaps you’re feeling stuck or feeling like you’re not living up to your potential. Sometimes we blame others for our problems or try to avoid facing our own issues.
But the truth is… we need to take ownership of our lives and face our fears in order to grow and thrive.
It’s not easy to do the work of processing pain, grief, and change. It’s scary to take risks and face the possibility of failure. But the reward of pushing through those fears is worth it. When we choose our own happiness over what we think others want for us, we become more resilient, more authentic, and more connected to ourselves and others.
Fear of failure is nothing you should allow to control your life, because the beauty that comes from it is SO much bigger than anything you would ever experience staying safe.
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