Thursday I failed. I failed big. I took a perfectly amazing grant writing position at my company and completely flubbed up my interview costing me a massive increase in pay and my first true respect as a writer and speaker. Oddly, however, this is not a negative post.
Failure is awful. I’ll be first to admit this. It hurts. The self abuse and self-smothered pride that comes with such an epic failure as this is not fun. Having depression (which I struggle with) only doubles that self-guided torture. Now, I could curl up in my room, crack a bottle of Jack Daniels and drown my sorrow in woes and “Oh me. Oh my” bullshit. And, like any self-respecting Irish American, I’ve done my share of this…which explains why this blog post wasn’t written on Friday but didn’t come into being until Sunday.
Failure is about learning. Failure is where we learn, where we grow, where we get from point A to point B. This is nothing new. It’s in every Self-help book on the planet. So that’s not where I want to go with this. I want to talk about how I, someone with depression, manages this, and why this is such a great thing for me.
Growing up, I was actually taught the opposite. I grew up learning that failure is usually the result of stupidity and even more usually the result of other people’s actions, not our own!
This is true.
My parents feared failing (though few don’t). My mother was offered ownership in a business she was already managing. Fearing the failure and possible monetary setbacks that might result, she balked. My parents were offered to purchase the two-tenant townhouse building we lived in. Fearing failure, they didn’t purchase it. Fearing failure has kept my parents, my grandparents, and me from going anywhere.
I blamed “the man”, my poor economic background, my non-rich family, my social background, and every other reason I could muster that wasn’t connected to my own abilities or actions. Until about 7 years ago.
Seven years ago, I changed this mindset. I decided, if I wanted something, I’d go for it. If I failed, I can honestly then say, “I tried and got this far.” This mindset allowed me to be the first in my family to graduate high school, first to graduate with my A.A., B.A., M.A….then I failed working on my PhD.
More recently, I found a job at a local nonprofit. Having no experience in the field of Developmental Disabilities, I settled for the only position I could get, a Substitute position making close to minimum wage. Within two years, I managed three promotions. This past week, I had the opportunity to make another, huge promotion.
Now. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not racing down the street honking my horn and yelling out the window in celebration that I failed! Hardly. I’m struggling to not scream at my family for every little thing in the world. I drank myself pretty stupid Friday night. Saturday I couldn’t get how stupid I was out of my head. I had nightmares Friday and Saturday night…all based on my idiocy.
But tomorrow starts the work week. And you know what? I’m excited! *mostly*
I submitted my first novel to another contest, I’m still waiting to hear back from agents, I have three critique groups that enjoy reading my work, I still have dozens of clients who are excited to know I didn’t get this promotion (as that means they don’t lose me as a direct support staff), and frankly, I’m excited that Thursday was the first real interview I’ve ever had.
Every other interview I had was silly questions like “what experience do you have putting up with customers complaining?” and “Tell me of a stressful time at work and what you did.”
This last week was questions pertaining to the company’s “Mission Statement”, grants I worked on, presentations I’ve given on behalf of the company, my writing styles, and my ability to write and speak within the confines of the voice of the company…all in all a great week.
If this sounds like a cheesy pep talk, it is. I’m still having a drink tonight and wallowing in my sorrow of failure. But that doesn’t mean that I haven’t learned from this, know what I did wrong, am better for what I’ve learned, and plan to pick myself up and move on…