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Forgotten Failures : The Truth about Success

Some years ago I received amazing news. I had made huge progress in my career, and yet, I didn't tell any of my friends. I didn't share my success on Twitter or Facebook or Instagram. For days I jumped of joy and I continued to float around on a cloud for weeks, but I didn't call a friend and I didn't let everyone know that I had finally made it, and that I had achieved what I had spent all year hoping and wishing for.

I did reach for my phone. And I did open Facebook. And I was ready to share the great news with all of my friends, but then I stopped, and I put my phone down and for the longest of time, I didn't tell anyone about my amazing success.

I was not ashamed of having made it. I was as happy as I could possibly be.

It wasn't that I didn't want to share the news and just wanted to keep them for myself. I wanted to let the entire world know, and yet, I decided to hold back. Why?

It was quite simply because I remembered.

Falling and failing miserably on the beach with a sword.

I remembered what it was like half a year earlier when I was sitting on the same couch on which I was now hopping around, screaming. I remembered that back then, I didn't feel the same euphoria or the need to hop around. I didn't have a success to celebrate, and I thought that the success I so desperately wanted may never come to me. I thought that perhaps I just wasn't skilled enough after all. Perhaps I didn't have the necessary talent and perhaps I had chosen the wrong path.

Because when I went on Social Media all I saw was the success of others; of friends and acquaintances, even people I didn't know. I saw their success and I smiled and I was happy for them, but their success fueled my own doubts.

They clearly hadn't struggled. It had come so easy to them, as I thought it would have come to me.

I knew I had talent. I had always thought I was good at what I did, and I loved it, but with every success that I saw, a little voice inside me got louder, a little voice that said: perhaps I had been wrong.

And I had been, but not about myself.

I had been wrong about the success of others.

As I was sitting with my phone in my hand, smiling from ear to ear and - finally - ready to share my own amazing news after having hopped around on my couch, I remembered that old little voice inside my head and how much louder it had gotten whenever I had seen announcements of others' undefined successes.

We are so eager to share all of our success with the world. So, why are we so reluctant to share our failures?

Once you have already succeeded, it's easy to say: "Oh yes, but I struggled a lot to get here." It's much harder to define those struggles, and talk about them with as much passion as we share our success.

In part because society at large doesn't value failures as much as success, although perhaps it ought to, but also because when we aren't sitting with those bad feelings and that little voice in our head telling us that everyone else can do it but not us, it's difficult to recall what it feels like.

And when we do sit in the company of that little voice, the last thing we want to is to share what it is saying, and why.

Success itself is such a small part of our road to get there, so why do we insist on calling success the only thing that matters? We all know the sayings that true success only comes from a series of failures, and yet we don’t act on them, we aren’t proud of our failures, certainly not when they happen. We don’t wear them as badges of honour to show how close we must be to success, not until we have achieved the goal. 

Sure we're told that failure shouldn’t get us down, and there are great proverbs about it too, but it's not how we experience the world on a daily basis. Our Social Media certainly doesn't reflect this. All of my Facebook friends are suddenly getting married, and are in successful lines of work, and their lives seem so much better, so what about me..?

Removed from its every day context and seen through the distant lense of Social Media, people look so happy and successful. Little do we stop to think about how that one amazing photo of an old classmate on the beach was taken thirty times before the results pleased her, or that she had actually gone to the beach in an attempt to regain some self confidence after her fiancé left her last week, a truth to which Facebook was still a stranger.

I don't believe that we keep our failures secret out of evil will. Once we have succeeded it's simply difficult to remember what it was like to sit on the other side, and often what we do end up remembering and talking about is a romanticized version of the truth.

I didn't want to forget my failures. So I didn't want to share my success without the failures, and I couldn't do that in a short post on Social Media, because I had been silent on those failure for too long.

Those who asked me how things were got the full account, not just of my success, but of my failures too, so that my words would not drive them into the same pit I had lived in half a year prior, and so that they may see exactly how much failure I had to encounter in order to meet success, and thereby get a fuller picture.

Failure is important. I would rather strive to be a person full of complexity, than a perfect statue. For a moment, let’s forget about trying to look perfect, and let's talk about our failures too.

This is the lay of the land. The basis I have to establish in order to clear the air before I can talk about my road to get published.


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