The dreaded feeling of failure has visited me more often in recent weeks due to taking up new challenges. About a month ago I joined a pilates class at my yoga studio and I’ve not felt like a bad-ass for doing it. Most days, I just felt like I was failing.
Starting new ventures is always hard for beginners. It’s about learning the ropes and being at the bottom and countless moments of breaking down, quite often in public. I think we can all relate to the feeling of failing, because we all have failed at one thing or another. I mean I can honestly not forget what I think was my biggest failure and most certainly my most public one. But I’m also aware that the feeling does not last forever. So I’m trying to look at this idea of failing in a different way.
The thing is, when you’re failing at something, you think you’re failing alone. Suddenly everyone else in that pilates class are looking like Godsend barbie dolls who don’t even sweat! You’ve immediately put yourself at the back of the race by comparing yourself to others and now it’s a competition and you’ve already lost. But what if you get out of your head for a moment? What if you look at the reality of the situation instead of the story you’ve concocted in your mind? Last night at pilates I saw something that I had not seen before, that the class was not just hard for me but it was hard for everyone. And it was the first time that I saw all of the women struggling. Now that doesn’t mean that they weren’t struggling before, but because I had created a story of how I was the worst person in this class and that everyone else had it easy. And this was simply not the case.
Now I wasn’t jumping up and down screaming yaayyy we are all failures together! I was still holding back tears of the pain I was feeling from pushing my body to a point it thought it would never get to. But there was motivation in it, there was understanding, that things are hard for everyone and just because you’re going through a bad time, doesn’t mean you’re experiencing it alone. But more than that, I feel encouraged to continue forth in this class because no matter how difficult it is, or how many times I’ve cried over it or through it, we all show up every week for every class to go through that again and to push ourselves further than we think is possible, to overcome our fears and lose our own egos as we all fight together to achieve a similar goal. And that goal for me is that I will push through a difficulty and let that make me stronger. And I’ll sweat over it, and cry over it and feel embarrassed over the amount of times my instructor needs to help me, because at the end of it, is only success.
I heard the other day that the only difference between someone who has gained success and someone who hasn’t is that the successful person tried again. And isn’t that something to encourage all of us who feel like we are failures. Maybe we’re just one more try from leaving the feeling of failure behind us and attaining success, in whatever that may be.
Photography by Jeff Simone