Failure is not an option! (Often movie quotes pop in to my head and spark an idea for a blog post, this one is from Apollo 13. As a matter of fact, movie quotes pop in my head often in relatable situations, I like it! Song lyrics too!)
This is a loaded word for me. I’m going to be as honest as I can to give a real account of this term in regards to my world and see where it leads me to.
What have I failed at this year?
- Starting an education course.
- My relationship.
- Paying bills on time.
- Getting my son to eat other/nutritious food.
- To quit caffeine and nicotine.
- Being consistent.
- Being financially independent.
And yet? My life continues on anyway.
What happens when I focus on all of these “failures” at once?
Overwhelm. Massive melt-down inducing overwhelm.
But are these failures actually “failures”?
Sure, on a level they all are. But looking at them objectively and realistically in the grand scheme of things they look a little bit different.
- No, I didn’t start my education course this year. I had every intention of starting, external events out of my control made this impossible at the time to focus and give it the attention it needed. I may have “failed” to start, but I didn’t fail the course, and it’s still an option to start when I am ready.
- My relationship. Well, you can’t fail relationships because there’s two people in them. Sure, there’s plenty of things we both could have done better e.g. Communicate. But is that solely on me? No it is not. It is so easy to judge past experience in hindsight, especially with new information. A sort of “if I knew then what I know now…” type thing. It doesn’t make sense to do this, but it is very hard not to do it. Failure? No, not really, not realistically.
- Paying bills on time. I am quite hopeless at this. Budgeting is a foreign concept to me. BUT they do get paid, always. Better late than never – as the saying goes.
- Getting my son to eat anything he doesn’t want to eat is a nightmare. Short of force feeding him, what can you do? He eats plenty of fruit, I hide veggies in his dinners, he’s very active, he’s in the healthy weight/height range for his age – why do I consider this a failure? Because – parent-shaming on social media. The super parents who post about their child eating all of these amazing and healthy things every day. The ones who make you feel inadequate. Realistically am I failing? No! My son likes what he likes, am I a failure for not pressuring him to try other foods? No, I’ve tried that, and what happens? Tears and spewing. No thanks, I’d rather my son eat what he likes and incorporate as much nutrition into that than let him starve. Goodbye parent-shamers, my son is healthy too.
- My addictions. Well, I haven’t failed to quit Pepsi Max or cigarettes realistically because I haven’t tried yet. It’s one of those “should do” things that float around in my mind – the ones that make me feel guilty. I will quit both eventually, but I also need to get to the root cause of the addictions themselves. I don’t sleep well – caffeine keeps me awake during the day – but also awake at night – vicious cycle. I’m socially awkward – cigarettes give me a reason to leave a situation – they’re like a 5 minute, albeit unhealthy, break. It also reduces the number of people I have to interact with at any one time. Funny how you realise things about yourself when you dig a little deeper. I know I can quit. I’ve done it before. So it’s not the nicotine I am addicted to persé but the escape it offers.
- Consistency! I do fail at this to a point, but what I’ve failed at more so is to identify what has been driving this behaviour. Stress. Anxiety. Fear. Yes, I’ve been inconsistent. But as with my relationship, hindsight is a beautiful thing. I could put a nice little reframe on consistency and say “I succeed at being consistently inconsistent!” I think if, objectively, I factor all of the external and internal forces that were driving my inconsistent behaviour then I don’t think I’ve failed at being consistent. It was what it was/is what it is. The emotional underdevelopment of Aspergers explains a lot – not excuses, but explains.
- Being financially independent. I have never been this really, not for lack of wanting to don’t get me wrong! I’ve made poor financial decisions in the past. I am lucky to have a family who can, and will, help me out at times. I am super lucky to live in Australia. Realistically, my current situation doesn’t allow me to work full-time. I am the sole carer of my son, who attends preschool two days a week 9-3. My parents both work. I am currently working in a temporary and flexible-hour position which ends next month. I have worked in the past, whilst living at home with my parents, with zero responsibility. Realistically I am comparing my financial position now with my peers, and that’s not a comparison I should make because I will fail in comparison – every time. I’m comparing myself against friends who don’t have kids, or do and are in a relationship, or have found, and are pursuing, their passion through their career. I’m comparing myself against my neurotypical peers and the neurotypical fairytale ideal that we all grew up with (married, kids, white picket fence around our mansion house, with brand new cars). I’m not neurotypical. I can’t fail at something I’m not. So, a quick reframe of this from “failure” to “goal” doesn’t seem so bad.
Why did I consider that list as failures in the first place? Because black/white, all/nothing thinking. What is the above? THE GREY.
What also happens when I focus on the above as “failures”? Depression. A “why bother” attitude. By thinking of things in terms of “success” and “failure” how will I ever be anything other than depressed?
It’s distorted thinking. It’s ingrained distorted thinking from years past. Each “failure” has compounded throughout my life and feeds my negative self-talk. I’ve read “money is the root of all evil”, but I think comparison and unrealistic self expectations are more evil than money!
I’m realistic, I’m going to slip up and let the negativity of life consume me sometimes. I’m going to get overwhelmed and commiserate on the unfairness of life. I’m going to have melt-downs, and break-downs and shut-downs too! I’m built that way. But I’m not built to fail. No one is built to fail. I’m built to think. And think I will … positively! Well, try my best to, and not consider it a failure if I don’t. I am, after all, only human.