A common thread in the stories of super successful people seems to be their willingness to admit how often failure played a part in their rise to the top. I have always read those stories with a twinge of "really?", because my own fear of failure has been a fairly constant companion through my 32 years. It's hard to believe you would want to go around admitting to epic fails.
Enter the Boston Experiment of 08. This week marks my one year anniversary here and folks, these last 12 months have kind of knocked the wind out of me. Eighteen months ago I was asking the heavens for an opportunity to grow and may I say that the old adage "be careful what you wish for" is freakishly true.
I don't want to get into a ton of boring details about this last year. Suffice it to say that I haven't loved my job and I realized pretty much the moment I landed here that oh yeah, I moved back to the West Coast for about nine million still valid reasons so what on earth have I done???
So oops. First I was mad at God for sending me here because that is a whole bunch easier then blaming myself for own decisions. Then I was mad at myself for being so stupid. Then I was mad at both of us and hoping maybe this was all some nasty dream. And then I decided to grow the hell up, take some responsibility, and figure out what I need to learn.
I am beginning to understand something that will probably be my soapbox for the next few years and that is that life is so much more like a puzzle then it is a road race. And when I look at things that way, a failure or a mistake is one hundred percent less scary. If you fall down in a race, that's it, you are probably going to lose. In a puzzle, it's cool that the pieces are all different and they don't all fit in the same place. Sometimes things you try don't work out, or the boys you like don't like you back, or you don't get something you feel like you really deserve, or someone else's life looks way cooler then yours on their blog. But if I'm looking at things like a puzzle then oh well, I get another piece or try the fit somewhere else. It changes everything. Falling down doesn't mean I can't ever catch up. And the even more beautiful thing-it frees all of us up to just be ourselves and not worry about who is the "winner".
Which is not the same as saying we should all be content to float along and not try our best. If anything it's the opposite. Instead of spending all my time looking around to see where everyone else is on the track and freaking out if I get passed or need to tie my shoe, I can concentrate on being awesome at the stuff that actually matters to me. It's slowly dawning on me that my fear of failing at things had probably kept me from progressing in some areas. But the puzzle theory applies everywhere-to jobs, to talents, to dating, to relationships. Less winning maybe, but way more satisfying figuring out where things fit.
So there it is, one of the things I probably should have figured out years and years ago but am just getting to now. But you know what? That's OK. It became apparent pretty much the day I left for college that getting older didn't automatically mean you got any wiser. Learning as you go is completely by choice.