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.
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.