Failure Is Not An Option... Sometimes Is The Only Choice.
"Failure is not an option" is a phrase thrown around every so often when we want to appear strong and committed towards a goal. I personally hate it. I think it puts unnecessary pressure on those of us that are not natural-born fighters, or maybe it’s that I'm just as afraid of failure as everyone else. See, we have this fear towards losing that we go above and beyond to avoid anything or anyone that could represent failure. We underestimate the value that failure has in our lives. Truth is, we learn more from our failures than we do from our success. This past summer this phrase went to a whole new level when I spent some days with a family friend that got hip replacement surgery. You might say now, why is that so unique? See, this friend is only 3'2'' and was told at a very young age she would not be able to walk for the most part of her life. She defied the odds and has been walking her whole life. As she took her first steps the day after the surgery, I was looking at her in awe. I was praising her in how strong she was, she told me: "failure is not an option", and kept walking. It never hit me until that day, I never saw her as handicapped or less capable than anyone else. That's how amazing she is—she makes the extraordinary look ordinary. Living a life full of challenges and taking them as they come with such grace is not easy. I think it takes a special kind of individual to do this. I'm sure my friend's life hasn't been a bed of roses, nevertheless, she lives a full, rich life. She even has an architecture degree! You should've seen her drawing floor plans on top of her work table; it was amazing! She always made everything look so easy. She enjoyed every minute of it. I love people that have the ability to enjoy life to the fullest, regardless of their circumstances. That has been the way I've been trying to live for the past couple of years. Starting over is not an easy task, but enjoying the process is a way to assure that no matter what the results are, you will always learn something. That alone is a win in my book! From what I've seen, there are three traits my friend has that make her the hero she is to me. First, she never takes herself too seriously. Second, she never gives up. Third, she understands and accepts her limitations. Taking yourself too seriously makes your life harder. We need to be able to laugh at ourselves and get rid of the fear of judgment. Reality is, no matter what you do, people are always going to have an opinion about you. What do you have to lose if you live life on your own terms and according to your values? If you stop pretending you know everything, you would probably have plenty of space to learn new things. We want approval from everyone, sometimes so desperately that we replace our own values to accept someone else's in order to fit. We tie our own sense of worth to the opinions of third parties, when the one at the driver's seat should be yourself, and not somebody else's opinion. In the end, when your decisions are driven by your values, you can learn from your mistakes.
This exercise of living according to your own values requires constant dedication, in other words, don't give up! Find new ways to try, be creative, look for new takes on the same problem. Cultivating that sense of wonder we had when we were kids will always lead us to new alternatives. There is a word that has become one of my favorite words, "resilience". Resilience means the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties, and this is the very core of not giving up. Not giving up doesn't mean we will always win; it means that even when we fall, we have the ability to stand up and look for other ways to keep going. Not giving up implies a great knowledge of our capacities. Don't overestimate your abilities and know exactly what you are capable of. Something admirable about my friend is that she always knows what things she can or can't do, and she acts accordingly. To me is very important to know when to stop—when to say it is time to stop trying this way, go back to the drawing board, and find a new game plan. When we are focused on what others might think about us, when their opinion becomes the axle that stir up our life, we'll tend to try anything to gain approval. Spending this time with my friend made me think about all the time I've wasted overthinking or complaining about things that are not even important, instead of putting that energy to more rewarding tasks, or trying to find out what can I learn from any given situation. I came to the realization that sometimes failure is not an option; sometimes is the only choice. To me, the failure of my marriage opened the door to a new life that I am not done discovering. I'm finding out who I really am and which way do I want to go. I found a new passion for teaching.