Growing up we are taught to avoid the use of certain four letter words. They are coined bad words and words that we should not use until we are adults, and even then can be seen as rude an inappropriate. (One of my favorite four letter words begins with an “F” simply because it can be used as just about every part of speech in the English language, but I digress.) Four letter words aren’t limited to cuss words. Others have been given a bad rap, like diet. Regardless, they are seen as unpleasant and something that we try to avoid.
Let me just preface this by saying I don’t like to “fail”. I studied my butt off in school and try to do the best that I know how with both the small and large things in life in order to avoid failure. Whether due to hard work, talent, just plain dumb luck or a combination of all three, I’ve been mostly successful. I’ve managed to avoid “failing” in most of the things I have attempted. Or at least that’s what I tell myself.
It isn’t all sunshine and roses, however, because part of the problem is that I am traditionally afraid of failure. I was notorious for this until about my mid 20’s – I never tried out for a school play (though I was lucky and found a local theater as an adult and pulled some courage together), never took a dance class in college and for awhile swore I’d never marry again because I didn’t want to repeat that failure. The fears dictated the choices I made, both large and small.
I was first married at the age of 22. My then husband and I had dated from my junior year of high school. As a member of the Air Force, my ex looked forward to a life of traveling and fairly frequent deployments, a lifestyle I was not ready for. Our personalities were different. Our interests were different. Our goals were different. But we loved each other and I believed, naively, that love could conquer all. I learned later that this love was different. I was a different person then: anxious, worried, still suffering from some depression and disordered eating habits and had very little self confidence. This love stemmed, at least for me, from a form of dependence. What others’ saw before we even married I couldn’t see except in hindsight.
That relationship ended about 5 years later, and was something I had a very difficult time dealing with even though I was the one who left. I was only 27 and my marriage had failed. It was the biggest failure I had to deal with in my lifetime. Regardless of what he may have ever said or done I still firmly believe that it takes two for a marriage to succeed and two for it to fail. I absolutely played my part. I was too needy, too dependent, not confident or self sufficient enough. It wasn’t on purpose – I didn’t know any differently, but in the end I contributed to the separation as much as he had. While going through the motions of divorce and the logistics of separation at times I felt even more miserable than I had in the relationship. I felt like a failure. Because of that feeling, I couldn’t allow myself to look for someone different who might truly compliment me. It ruled how I lived my life.
Through the help of a no nonsense, tell it like it is therapist (which I appreciated) I sucked it up and ventured forward. And boy am I glad I did. Because today I sit here, married to a man who truly DOES compliment me, one that I’ve grown to love MORE as time goes on and not become more annoyed with, one that is really my best friend – something I thought didn’t really exist.
I get that not trying out for school plays and avoiding dance classes are small in the grand scheme of things and have likely not drastically altered the course of my life. What comes from all these fears of failure though, big or small, is one central thing: lacking the courage to try.
Never be afraid to fail. It’s going to happen. I am going to make some small and large mom failures with you guys. What seems the most important to me, though, isn’t the failures but what you learned from them. Had I not experienced that massive relationship failure I wouldn’t be where I am right now – feeling just about the most blessed I have in my life. Do the best that you know how with the information that you have and try, for both the big and little things and I think you’ll be able to avoid the biggest four letter word (in my opinion): regret.
Besides, sometimes FAIL can be funny.