Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Sweet Savor of Success Failure

Dear K2 - this post is for you. Sure, I'm guessing there could be something in here that would be beneficial for K1, but I know you need this one most of all. I've been thinking about this for a long time - thinking about how I could teach you a lesson that I haven't yet learned myself. Try - as most parents do - to help you avoid the heartache and trauma I've caused myself over the years. While it's true I haven't figured it all out, I think there is a lot of learning and catharsis that can come from talking about it (or writing, as it were).

Failure. To me the dirtiest F word on the planet. But only for my own self, mind you. I'm incredibly supportive of other people's failures and say all the right and necessary things: "keep at it" "you've come so far" "learn from this and move forward" "some of the most successful people failed first", etc. etc. But I don't allow that type of kindness for myself, because somehow along the way I decided I wasn't worthy of it.

I'm a dyed-in-the-wool, true blue through and through, TYPE A/RED personality. That's in all caps for a reason. One time in college we were separated into personality types and asked to work out a problem, and I quickly became the leader of the Type A group. In other words, in a sea of Type A's, I insist on being the most Type A. I've always owned it - I even confess that some of the 'negative' traits associated with these personalities I view as badges of honor. I love that I'm uptight, hyper-critical of myself, never satisfied and exhaustively bossy and demanding. And if I am being completely honest, I kind of secretly love it when I see it in you too. First off, I get it. And second, I know that it means a lifetime of achievement, wonderful successes and exposing yourself to a great deal of opportunities.

But on the flip side it also means a crushing fear of that F word I mentioned before, and soul-sucking discouragement every time something doesn't turn out exactly as you think it should in your mind.

The problem with this mindset is that I fail more often that not. I lose more than I win, I am weaker far more times than I am strong, I often fall short of those ideals I set for myself on a daily basis. At my age and on a level of logic, I realize this is true of most people. We all have daily goals and aspirations and its rare to meet them all, even half the time. And it's not that I don't expect to fail. It's just that I consider anything less than absolute perfection to be soul-sucking, discouraging failure.

And maybe all of this would be ok, if I wasn't that dang Type A. Which means if I'm not achieving, I'm not living. And so I consistently put myself in the position of being out of my element, with ridiculously high expectations, and the ability to see everyone else's successes and milestones while never noticing a one of mine. And there you are - my wonderful, talented, special and divine 9 year old shadow. Setting yourself up with insane expectations and experiencing soul-sucking, tantrum throwing discouragement when it doesn't go exactly as planned.

What can we do about this K2? How do we help each other? How do we balance a healthy drive to achieve and succeed with the self forgiveness and lesson learning that can come from experiencing defeat? Perhaps it starts like any other weakness we must overcome - with recognizing and admitting there is a problem. Maybe we can find a way to let in those encouraging voices all around us, those ones that tell us that we really ARE making achievements. Possibly we can even redefine what it means to be successful, and understand that success rarely - if ever - means perfection. What I hope, most of all, is that we can help each other feel worthy of kindness.

You and your brother are the angels in my life. You make me recognize my Heavenly Father every day, and having you I have learned what it means to put no parameters or expectations on love. You can't fail me. That must be God's way of teaching me a valuable lesson. If I love you this much, how much more must He love me. And you. And if we're loved that much by the Divine, don't you think we're worthy of it? I know you are. And you know what? I know I am too.

I love you so much. Never stop striving for new adventures, new opportunities, new successes and yes - even new failures. Let's learn together that in the sweet savor of failure we find our choicest blessings.