How To Fail

On How to Fail podcast, Elizabeth Day asks interviewees about three of their failures, what they have learnt from them and how they have altered because of them.

In sharing our failures we become stronger.  In sharing our failures we realise there is nothing to fear from them.  In sharing our failures we become more human.  So, in sharing our failures we share ourselves.

Elizabeth Day: How to Fail

This post has been sitting in my drafts for a while. There is a vulnerability to opening up about your failures. We still live in a world full of filters, where perfection is idealised. But nobody is perfect and we all make mistakes.

Day has been part of building a movement that praises imperfections and celebrates failures. If we don’t fail, we don’t learn and grow; thus we are unable to improve and do better. So in honour of my favourite podcast, I have delved into a few of my own failures.

To become a lifeguard

At the age of 17 my mum suggested that I train to become a lifeguard. This seemed like a good idea as I love swimming and needed a job. But, oh boy, I did not realise how demanding it would be. In my head I thought I would just sit on a pedestal by a pool, reading a book and occasionally blow a whistle! In reality you get given a huge binder full of biology and first aid that you have to learn and get tested on. On top of the academia, you also have to be pretty physically fit. Needless to say, I was overwhelmed from the first training session. On top of these demands I was juggling year 12 retakes and upping my game on year 13 work so that I could ensure passes on A Levels.

It very quickly all became too much. So naturally as most teenagers do, I took it out on my mum (sorry mum). Lots of tantrums and screaming matches. It wasn’t my mums fault; she had made a suggestion and hadn’t forced me into anything.

I never put my all into it because I didn’t really want to do it – which I now recognise is an extremely privileged position to be in. I used to look back and regret that I didn’t try harder to become a qualified lifeguard, until realising this was only because I was comparing myself to others who I deemed to have accomplished a lot more than I had.

I was putting way too much pressure on myself and looking back I realise that I was only trying to prove to myself that I was worthy. But I was and still am so worthy. I managed to pull myself back from failing all my A levels, getting decent grades without having to retake a year. And I did this whilst juggling a part time job at a hairdressers (which I loved).

So, I didn’t become a lifeguard and who cares?! Really though, absolutely nobody.

At Lemon Drizzle Cake

Ryan’s favourite cake of all time is a lemon drizzle. Every year I make him one for his birthday. But when I tried to make him one for his 30th, it didn’t quite go to plan. No matter how long I baked it (later with foil over to stop burning), it stayed raw in the middle. I even tried to salvage just the sides for the cake to fall in on itself, becoming engulfed in the raw mixture.

Perfect, that’s what I wanted it to be. The perfect cake to celebrate the big 30! As with my previous failure, this particular baking experience is yet another example of where I have put too much pressure on myself and gone into melt down.

Baking is just one of those things that doesn’t always work out no matter how good you are or how many times you do it. However, this year, whilst in the first lockdown, I did bake the most amazing lemon drizzle. Made even better because Ryan only had to grudgingly share it with me (I didn’t get much). As an amateur baker, enjoyment should be the main ingredient.

Ignore the mess and focus on the cake!

At Blogging

ImiFarm has actually been live since 2015 but you wouldn’t know that because I was letting the fear of failure hold me back before I’d even started. I had actually forgotten that I had even set it up! Blogging is something that i’ve wanted to do for so long but I was always too scared to take the plunge because I was letting the fear of others judgement stop me.

This year, I decided that I really wanted to have a go at blogging. Inspired by friends who had also started blogs for themselves, I decided to do the same. And so far it’s been great. The blogging community is lovely, I really enjoy reading others posts and find writing therapeutic.

I’ve learnt to stop worrying about what people think about me. Everyone has their own stuff going on. The fear of judgement still creeps up on me but it has become more of whisper. In the words of Nike, just do it.

I’d love to hear about what you’ve learnt from your failures and how they have shaped you. Share away in the comments below.

11 Comments

  1. Hey I loved reading this Imi!
    Once, this thing came to my mind that maybe I could take up pottery and I failed big time in the first class! I ended up making a mess out of it :p
    I always failed in sports in school.
    I had started two blogs before this, one in 2013 and another one in 2015. Both failed because I just didn’t feel inspired then.
    Failed in couple of relationships but I think everything happens for our own good, someday it all makes sense and maybe it’s leading us to something much better. I realized there’s no point in pursuing it any further or forcing it to happen. If it’s supposed to happen, then it will.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much ❤ and thanks for sharing some of you failures, know how uncomfortable it can be to share.
      I also always failed at sports. I think schools should showcase sports as fun and something to be enjoyed and not always about being good at them/competitive.
      Nice to hear that someone else has also failed at blogging!
      Relationships feels like a failure that I could write a book on! You are right, in the end it does all make sense and you realise it happened for a reason xx

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I relate so much!!! Especially caring too much about what people think. I was complaining the other day to my boyfriend that if I follow my dreams after studies are finished my whole family will judge me. And he was like: ”So like… 2 people?” and I realized how much I suffer in my imagination. 🤣 And even if 15 people judge me. So what? Which they won’t because everybody is living their own lives and doesn’t give a crap.
    I’m also very afraid of failure, but I tell myself that’s part of life. Even one fails to achieve something, they learnt and grew so much while trying to do it. Which obviously helps a lot in a different kind of journey!

    Great post! Really loved it.

    Toma 🦋 https://www.tomaruh.com

    Like

    1. Thanks so much Toma ❤
      haha we do tend to exaggerate and create imaginative, extreme scenarios when it comes to judgement. Hope you do end up following your dreams.
      Highly recommend How to Fail podcast to help you start to love failure and see how great it is. It's completely changed my attitude to failure. xxx

      Like

  3. In everything we (my friends and I) did, either together or each on our own, we learned, the lessons still with us today. What other people “define” is their business. I just enjoyed whatever we did or learned.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. This is an interesting idea, and it makes sense. I immediately thought about my failures, the biggest one being how bad I was at PE at school and the impact it had – such a public failure and so important in the school context. Interesting therefore to read the comments. I wonder how many people have been scarred by the school PE experience! Interesting that your Mum bore the brunt – Annie refers to her ‘stressy meltdowns’, all saved up for me – so that really struck a chord!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There’s a lot of people on the How to Fail podcast who also reference PE as a failure and Day herself discusses it in her book of the same title. It’s a very popular failure.
      Its comforting to hear that Annie also saved her meltdowns for you. Although I’m sorry that, like my mum, you also had to deal with them!

      Like

  5. It’s so important to reflect on failures – it is only when we do so, that we realise the immense capacity there is to learn from it and strive to move forward in our desired direction. Great post! And the lemon drizzle cake looks delicious 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: How to fail

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