I can’t believe how long it’s been since I’ve written for you! Well…I can’t and I can.

Do you ever have those times when you avoid looking in a mirror because you feel like an absolute mess and can’t bear confronting your reflection? Or have you ever dodged seeing a friend because the last time you saw him/her you were yammering on and on about some new project or job and now that it didn’t end up panning out you are embarrassed to admit it to your friend? If you’ve ever done either of these things than you might understand why I’ve been avoiding my blog so much for so long.

The thing about writing about your life—especially when you’re an in-the-moment person like me who doesn’t always wait until something is certain or successful to share it—is that when you look back on what you’re written you can feel like a big, flaky failure. Every time you log into your blog you might think too much about all the projects you talked about starting but never finished, the dreams you shared that have gone unfulfilled, the jobs you were so excited to get but then quit, and the lessons you learned that you seem cursed to keep re-learning. All of that might make you feel like an embarrassing mess.  You might decide that it’s more prudent to stop writing altogether. Especially when the last blog post you wrote is yet another example of something you didn’t follow through on. (Yep, I definitely didn’t focus on dating this fall. More on that later).

Holding myself back from writing, which is one of my favorite things, was foolish. Most of all, I was foolish for viewing myself so critically.

There is nothing wrong with the process of figuring things out that I’ve gone through during the last four years. There is no good reason to be ashamed of changing my mind or re-directing my energy. Most importantly, there is nothing wrong with me. In retrospect, it’s easy to see that most of my abandoned projects were attempts to turn myself into someone I’m not, most of my un-achieved dreams were tied to a life I don’t really want and am not suited for, and the jobs I’ve quit weren’t good fits for me. The only thing I’ve really failed at is being someone that I’m not. While that can feel like a bad thing, it actually isn’t.

If you’re thinking: What?! I thought you were more self-assured than this. And didn’t you make peace with having a non-storybook life back in August?

You would be right that I have made peace with the path that I’ve chosen. I no longer regret walking away from a potentially prestigious academic career and deciding to pursue a career in marketing instead. I love promoting products, interacting with people, managing my staff and coordinating events. I am very passionate about and feel very at home in the field of experiential marketing. Am I entirely comfortable with the fact that I don’t have complete narrative control of my life? Not exactly. It bothers me less than it used to and that’s progress.

I definitely am not as self-assured or self-aware as I can come across as. Accepting that I am not the character that I imagined I would become has been far harder than learning to appreciate the unpredictability of life.

I haven’t just wanted my life to be like a novel, I’ve wanted to be like a literary character. Not any old character either. There is a part of me that wanted to be like Dagny Taggart: rigidly disciplined, insanely decisive, and unstoppably confident. But rigid and disciplined are two words that will never aptly describe me. I think that is true of most people who are more relationally motivated than monetarily motivated. I achieve my goals through persistence, flexibility and charisma. I can be decisive but I’m also very adaptable and open to change. Though I’m pretty comfortable in my own skin, I will always be my harshest critic. While these differences between Dagny and I might explain why I wasn’t at home in academia, they aren’t actually flaws. It’s a bit ridiculous how long it’s taken me to see that.

The most ridiculous thing is how much I struggle to forgive myself for being human. Of course, not all of the things I’ve been beating myself up about are strengths in disguise. I can’t say I’m perfectly happy with every decision that I’ve made but who can honestly say that? What sane person doesn’t have areas that they know they need to grow in? I’m sure you aren’t surprised to learn that I’m imperfect. It is about time that I stopped being so embarrassed by my non-humorous imperfections (I’m probably a little too comfortable with my foibles that are funny—like my satirical love life).

Right now we are in the midst of Lent. This season is when the new year begins in earnest for me. As I’ve said for years, January is the most illogical inaugural month—at least for those of us in the Northern hemisphere. By this time of year, the days are finally getting noticeably longer. You can feel the approach of spring in the growing warmth of the sun and hear it in the songs of the birds that have returned already. It’s when I begin seriously thinking about what I want to accomplish in this new year. One of my resolutions is to view myself with more grace.

I am not a flaky failure. I’m human. And that’s nothing to be ashamed of.

Feature image by Chris Barbalis.

3 thoughts on “Feeling Like a Flaky Failure

  1. Ugh I relate too much. Once at a family gathering everyone was encouraged to share their plans for the upcoming year and I spat out my wildest dreams (this was like 2006… I said something about moving to Chicago and becoming a famous hairdresser… lol). Life happened and that didnt… which is fine and good except 9 years later I still feel embarrassed when I think about it. When I asked a bunch of people for references for a job I never got around to applying for, then spent months terrified of being asked about it. I live by the seat of my pants, something I am learning to love about myself too. I can’t plan my life, it makes me feel boxed in. The best parts of my life have happened to me without warning and weirdly enough going where the wind takes me is where I feel safest. Something that’s helped me is focusing in what I HAVE accomplished rather than what I havent. Now I think of my plans like a handful of pasta thrown at the wall. The more I throw the more likely something will stick. You’re not alone :)

  2. It is so nice to hear someone else share the same feeling, Angel! I’m learning to love the same thing about myself. It isn’t always easy. Do you feel like what makes it a little harder to accept in ourselves because we live in a world where it seems like you are supposed to know EXACTLY what your dreams are and to pursue them with abandon? Sometimes it feels to me like I’m living out of sync with the rhythm of life. The irony is that-even though sometimes I beat myself up-I still don’t really want my life to be in sync with that rhythm because, like you said, I’d feel caged in.

  3. We are totally not alone. I here by dub it Pocahontas Syndrome (in reference to the Disney character not the historical figure).

    “Just around the river bend” is our anthem.

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