We’ve been taught that the letter ‘F’ in a gradebook equates to failure, that if we don’t succeed at something, we’re automatically not good enough, not smart enough, or somehow falling behind. We look at life so black and white sometimes—that there is good and bad—and if we don’t get the good grade, good weight, good running time, good body mass (insert whatever applies here) there’s something wrong with us.
But what if failure is just something we’ve created out of fear?
What if there’s actually no such thing as failure because the mistakes we make actually teach us more about ourselves than our successes? What if falling down actually helps us grow? What if getting the bad grade, bad score, bad percentage, bad whatever is just a step on our journey?
What if we’re really doing far better than we think we are?
As a writing coach and editor I work with people all day long who think they’re ‘inadequate.’ Whether they’re struggling with their writing skills, having a hard time putting together sentences, looking or help for their resumes, etc. they have somehow let themselves feel like they’re less because they’re not good at something.
They think they’re failing because their writing/editing skills are not strong. Which is absolutely not true! But this is their perception. And that’s the point—our perception shapes our identity—good or bad.
That’s why it’s important to recognize, whether in fitness, writing, music, or general life skills—you’ll always feel like a failure if you’re seeing the moments you mess up as the definition of who you are.
If you’re convincing yourself that failure is negative, rather than a learning experience, you’re going to feel like you’re in capable of moving forward. (But the exact opposite is true!)
If you look back of your life, you’ll realize that some of the wrong turns you made actually helped you to get to the place you are now. The ‘wrong’ people you dated, the times you didn’t make the cut for the team or position at work, the tests you didn’t ace—all of those moments were tough, sure, but they encouraged you.
Those moments didn’t define you, they pushed you forward.
And maybe that’s the most important thing we need to keep in mind about ‘failure.’ Maybe it’s not about whether you won or lost the competition, met the weight loss goal, or had the fastest running time. Maybe it’s not about being at the lowest body fat percentage or getting the best score.
It’s about how the results of whatever you’re facing make you continue to try harder, to not give up and to believe in yourself.
There’s no such thing as failure, just moments that shape you, just lessons that teach you, and just growth that comes with every forward step.
So keep going, keep fighting, keep working on the goals you’ve made. You’ll get there in time, but not if you turn back now.