Photo credit: yevkusa, via Flickr.
You want to know a hard truth about everyone you follow who's "made it?" They have a losing record. The thing about winners is that they are also losers. Whatever you're trying to gain, know that you're going to lose. A lot. And you're going to make even more sacrifices along the way to make up for the disparity.
There's been countless conversation about how success comes in thousands of nights, how people work hard for years before they achieve their goals. And often, when I read or hear these stories, there seems to be something missing. We aren't as transparent about our failures as we are our successes, and it's time we become a little more open and conversational about our losses.
The social media feeds we scroll through are only highlight reels. They don't give the full scope of the story--the behind the scenes stuff that reveals a lot more about who we are and what we are not. There's romanticization about the hustle and the no sleep mantras. We love to say we're busy, even when we're not, just to give the protective illusion that we are indeed occupying our time. Saying we're busy means people out there want our attention. It says we're needed elsewhere. We have somewhere to be. And it's important.
I've definitely been a perpetrator of that over the years.
Trust Carli Lloyd. She knows what's up.
I'll come out and say it: I dealt with some serious underemployment in 2016 and 2017. Not even kidding: I made $11,000 on the year in 2016. I didn't have the luxury of leaning on anyone for real financial help. Mama wasn't going to pay my rent. My partner carried some of the burden, sure, but we're both working class. I had to cover my personal expenses, and being poor is expensive. I didn't qualify for any government benefits or programs that I applied for. I had to piece an often painfully frugal life together.
Despite the anxiety and the depression as a result of what all I might have been going through, I look back on that year with more fondness than anything. Being that broke shaped me and revised my perspective of the world (not that I come from some wealthy household. I'm from around the way, another single-parent working class household).
Even though I had achieved my biggest goal in becoming a published author, I still had a long ways to go. I was losing, but I was learning. And one of the most important things I learned was that I define my own success--not anyone else. What was on my feed was far from the truths deep down. And what I learned during that time has become integral to the successes I'm experiencing right now. Funny enough, I'm looking forward to how I'm going to fail again and the wisdom I'm going to get from that and how I'll continue to grow even more.
Gary Vee truth bombs have really helped me the past year.
I wish I talked more about what I was going through. Bouts with depression got really serious--nervous breakdowns and panic attacks were frequent. Imposter syndrome left me riddled in harmful self-critique. It's hard to talk about all that when you're in the midst about it. I'd like to think we're all going to get better at it in the future, though.
We don't know what failure looks like. So when we're going through it, and often going through it alone, we think we're going through something much worse. The obstacles seem insurmountable, and we aren't talking it through. Instead, we only ever have people's success staring right back at us in our social feeds.
Failure is a conversation. We only ever have it with ourselves, though. When that happens, we blame ourselves. We only see our shortcomings. We only contemplate why we didn't achieve what we sought after. We don't factor in the variables we can't control. We put it all on our shoulders, and we yell at ourselves about it, instead of having a rational, objective, and open conversation about it with our peers.
Here's the thing: you're not the only one who's ever failed. And you will fail way more than you will succeed. There are more failures in our futures. And that needs to be celebrated, because if you aren't failing, then you aren't trying, and you won't ever be successful.