Failure: The One Thing Everyone Knows But Always Forgets - How To Fix Your Crown, Get Back On Your Unicorn, And Begin Again
Failure, rejection, the sense of seeming ‘not good enough,’ of being used or misunderstood, unworthy, compared to, and judged are all experiences that I (and all humans around the globe) know well. There are times when we are riding the waves of life, with all its challenges and surprises like pro surfers, and there are other times when we feel like we can’t even put our pants on straight, days when we break everything we touch, say all the wrong things, and are on the verge of tears for weeks at a time.
Life is tough and being honest about the struggle is a great way to tap into the authenticity of your human experience. Pretending like everything is hunky dory and slapping a smile on your face when you are going through something tough, something that requires your internal attention and affection, only bottles up the pain to be exposed (and trust me this won’t be pretty) at a later date. Honoring the fact that you are wading through the muck of emotion and steeping that hurt in compassion and love like you would your favorite Yogi tea bag in your most darling mug on a chilly winter morning, will allow the emotions to pass through you, rather than get stuck and bound inside you. If you’ve ever kept a secret so long that you began to experience physical pain in the throat or gut, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. We all face challenges. We all mess up sometimes. We all have days so ‘off’ that it feels like the ‘on’ switch might just be broken forever. We are humans having a human experience and the yuck will not last forever! We must sit with it, feel it, and not indulge the demon of shame for being a sentient soul.
Today is one of those days for me. I’m simply feeling kind of off. Kind of shitty. Kind of sad. I’m feeling like I’m not quite living up to my own standards. Intellectually I know that I am working my little bum bum off, but emotionally my cup ain’t feeling so full. As I try to sort through this mental mess, I am reminded of a time in the past when I thought my world was over, only to discover something so much better was just waiting on the other side.
I remembered the time I tried to run a week-long retreat and no one wanted to come.
2 years ago, I got pretty gutsy and made it my greatest life’s goal to run a yoga retreat abroad. At this time in my life, I couldn’t envision a more epic, more fulfilling, and life changing resolution than to do something like teach yoga and travel! It was the ultimate dream and I was going to make it happen.
The trip was dated to run in November, but September was fast approaching and there were only three (lovely) people signed up. Three people is not enough to make a retreat happen and still be able to pay the bills. So, as you have probably guessed (you are so smart), the trip had to be canceled and my career as a traveling yogi was doomed for all time, I was completely devastated in so many ways. I cried until my whole face turned red and I looked like I’d been dipped in mascara and snot. I stayed in bed. I had multiple loud and annoying (private) temper tantrums. I screamed at the universe in disapproval, “How dare you!”
Let’s be honest, creating a dream plan and having it fizzle and die before your eyes is, well, pretty crushing.
I had planned this destined-to-be-squashed trip through a yoga retreat company and I was under the impression that they would be doing all kinds of marketing and advertising. I assumed all I needed to do was sit back and watch the magic happen. I thought I just had it in the bag. Rookie mistake…Total fail. No one even knew about this retreat, not to mention that the structure of the retreat didn’t speak to who I was, as it was a “Raw Food Detox Retreat.” smh. If you have read about my history with food, you know why the cancellation was a true blessing in disguise.
The truth is that at that point in my life, I wasn’t feeling confident enough to talk about my retreat because I could hardly imagine that anyone would even join me. Now, I realize (as hindsight is 20/20) that I was actually manifesting (unknowingly) a canceled retreat because I was secretly too terrified to do something as crazy as teach yoga in another country with people who had invested such a massive amount for the experience. Oh, the PRESSURE. I was so scared that I would fail, that I brought failure in as an escape route. If no one came on the trip, I couldn’t mess it up. I was completely frozen, both overwhelmingly excited, and in total fear mode at the same time.
The day I found out the trip was canceled, I was humiliated. To follow was a flooding of emotion that bombarded me with guilt, shame, and resentment towards myself. Because my fears had been validated, my thoughts turned to total negativity.
“Why would anyone come on a yoga retreat with you?"
“Who do you think you are, Kathryn Budig?!”(whom I am positive had similar feelings at one time in her life.)
“You are not good enough!”
“You just aren’t good enough.”
“GIVE UP NOW.”
Buckle your life vest and hop on into the dark and dreary pool of woe-is-me! It is bottomless and full of rapids, gators, and piranhas! Enjoy the ride!
Our woe-is-me mind has this tricky way of kicking us (HARD) when we are down. The mind says, look...You got hurt, you were in danger, and I won't let that happen ever again.Stop trying because you will fail. Stay safe, stay small, I’ve got everything under control. Go back to how things were before you stepped out of your comfort zone. It will be great. Safe and secure. And I’ll never let anyone or anything hurt you ever again. But, here’s the thing. I have played it small before in the relationship sector of life. I knew what it felt like to stay safe, to hold onto your identity and refuse to be vulnerable, and to put all your eggs into the basket of being comfortable. It gets pretty damn boring after awhile. You become resentful and feel stuck. You lose your power. I already knew what daily disappointment, boredom, and regret looked like and I was NOT about to let that happen again….and neither should you.
The Ah-Ha! Moment
So what did I do? I brushed off my shame, prayed and prayed and prayed, and looked meticulously at my primary errors.
What went wrong? Why did it go wrong? How can I improve? The second time around I decided to be my own travel agent. I became obsessed with every single detail of the upcoming trip. I was so obsessed that I couldn’t stop talking about it. I had to share it everywhere and with everyone because I was SO EXCITED. (I do believe that feeling this feeling will manifest success, but that’s a story for another time.) I researched every single hostel, hotel, inn, B&B, campground, and castle! I read every single review. I watched as many YouTube videos on where I was going as I possibly could. I got *help* from other people who were skilled in areas that I wasn’t. I got artistic people to make flyers and beautiful advertisements that I could never have done on my own, I developed a friendship with the owner of the Eco-guest house I would be bringing my lovely retreat unicorns to, I put on my imaginary snorkeling gear and dove deep into the unknown, and did my best not to repeat the mistakes that I had made before.
If you are as hard on yourself as I am, it can feel like the end of the world when you mess up, make mistakes, go through a breakup, get a bad grade on a test, or feel like you have back peddled, but the truth is that the knowledge gained from our mistakes is like an arrow being pulled back on a bow; the next action you take is going to propel you forward in ways that you cannot even imagine. Failure is not what we see it to be. We perceive a loss when we are really getting a massive gain in wisdom, clarity, and perspective. Looking back, I don’t regret what happened, and in fact, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
When my retreat got canceled, I chose to go to, Coco Loco Surf Camp with two of the marvelous ladies who were previously signed up to attend my 'failed' trip. It was incredible (and if you want to be a better surfer, I highly recommend it...although, it is obviously not the epic travel experience you will get with me (wink wink nudge nudge)... Retreat with me.
Surfing for the first time, getting humbled by the monstrosity of the ocean, conquering my fears, being really seen by others, and remembering the magic that happens when a group of amazing people come together, massively inspired me to get back on my unicorn and ride into the unknown with my hair whipping behind me. I remembered my days as an angstful and deeply depressed ten-year-old going to sleep-away camp and realizing how lucky I was to be alive. I remembered what it was like to create bonds and feel energized and supported by others. This trip changed my life because it helped me remember who I was and who I came here to be. I knew I could try again and I knew I could do better.
When you get back up after you have fallen, you simultaneously cultivate your confidence muscle and fill your wisdom tank for future endeavors.
You become more courageous and capable of reaching your next big goal. Maybe the truth is, that when you aren’t ‘mistake making’, something is missing...something just isn’t right. Because if there aren’t lessons being added to your life’s curriculum, you might ask yourself if you are taking chances, taking risks, and ultimately really living to your greatest potential? Risk taking isn’t just about your career. Risk taking could mean telling your family members how much they mean to you, it could be telling your partner you love them, or it could be signing up for an improvisational comedy class when you are afraid to speak in public. It is all about stepping out of your comfort zone and being open to receive whatever it is that is on the other side. It requires fierce faith, courage, and a ton of determination, but more than anything, it simply asks you to begin again.
Anything is possible, but we need some of that magical risk taking elbow grease to make our lives really spectacular. So you out there, the one who feels like you have fucked up and ruined your life forever, the only way to go is UP. We need to fail in order to intelligently begin again. You got this, keep going, you are doing GREAT. Fix your crown and get back on that unicorn, Magic Maker.