Thoughts on Failure
For the longest time I have wanted to write about this and for the longest time it has just been too raw, still too much a part of our every day experience and too difficult to sit with those big emotions in order to fully reflect. Then there are days when you just feel compelled to let go and this is that day.
A few months back my husband and I embarked on a venture that was to completely change our lives. But in our eagerness to be more successful, live a better life and create stability for our family, we did not anticipate what that change may look or feel like. We worked tirelessly for five years, him overworking to save money and me practically solo parenting two small children to the determent of our health, sanity and at one point, our marriage. We had a goal and all that seemingly endless sacrifice was leading us somewhere. So earlier this year, just a matter of days before I gave birth to our third daughter, we opened our own shop. If you have followed me on social media for some time you will have seen for yourselves the journey, the struggle, the excitement, the build up, the moment in our lives where everything would fall into place. Or not.
Our children were are true source of inspiration and we embarked on this path because we wanted to give them the best. They were at our meetings, shop fittings, on our deliveries and playing at our feet whilst we did the accounts or attempted important calls. They lived and breathed the process with us and we wouldn’t of had it any other way. What an incredible opportunity to see a plan, a vision, a dream brought to life. What amazing value there was in showing them the building blocks necessary to really make something happen.
Whilst it was an incredibly overwhelming time to simultaneously open a new business and birth a child, it was also a time filled with drive, passion and anticipation. But not all ventures take us where we imagine and for various different reasons (which seem somewhat irrelevant now) our shop just did not work. We had to take what felt like quite a premature and dramatic decision to close the doors on what we thought would be our future. We lost everything, every penny we invested and more, every hope and dream, every woken night, every bit of blood, sweat and tears, gone. The dictionary definition of failure is a ‘lack of success’ something ‘coming to nothing’, a ‘collapse’ or an ‘underachievement.’ Failure is intrinsically linked to hardship and the foundation of our faith is remaining patient in times of adversity and trusting that God’s plan is always greater.
The truth is that your sustenance can come in abundance and it can also be stripped away in the blink of an eye. Money will come and money will go, it is a necessity but it doesn’t define your success. It will not bring you happiness and it cannot change what is or isn’t meant for you. I used to think that having more financial security for our family would help us feel more settled, provide us with a sense of freedom, open doors of opportunity and ways for us to give back. However, in the midst of what first seems like a hardship, I can acknowledge that we still hold an incredible amount of privilege. Today I took my children to volunteer at an edible garden project and food bank initiative. We saw first hand as people lined up outside to collect food parcels. When we got home my daughter asked if she could see some pictures of people who had nothing. We have talked a lot lately about cutting down on excess and living with less. I found myself shamelessly googling “images of poor people.” We looked together and talked about the children in Africa that are Starving, the people in the slums that are sifting through the rubbish. How can I, for a second, believe that I have lost.
I look daily at a poster on my bedroom wall and I try with all my heart to explain to my children that no matter what, we have a God and in every situation He is sufficient for us and I hope they forever sleep in comfort knowing this.
Despite a whirlwind of emotions and a huge reevaluation of our priorities and life goals, I can’t help but feel proud of us, proud that we dared to dream in the first place, proud that we were willing to put ourselves out there and have a go. I’ve always wanted our lives to be enriched with opportunity and experience but the very nature of that means stepping into the unknown. Some times you have to be willing to take a risk and deal with whatever obstacles you may have to face on your path. This is life.
I wanted to consider the meaning of this experience for my children and how it might shape their outlook on life and build them as whole people. We have consciously opted out of a system that tests, labels, compares and perhaps at times highlights a sense of underachievement. That word, failure is fully loaded and I question if its a word I want to use at all. I want to give my children the gift of letting go, letting go of the expectations that people put on us to succeed. In life, I truly believe there is only ever learning. Each experience teaches us, refines us and helps us to grow. If we are scared to think and dream big then we cast huge limits over ourselves, we lose our creativity, we don’t realise our full potential and these are not the things that we want to model to our children. Learning is about discovery, its about tapping into the unknown, its about gaining skills, decoding and curiously seeking that which will make us stronger. Its about knowing that despite our best efforts there will be times when things simply don’t work out.
I hope that in the last few months our children have seen how we have risen above our circumstances, that we’ve not wavered in our faith and gratitude for all that we do have. I hope they will see that some times in life you need to modify, adjust, realign yourself and just keep on moving. I hope that they will grow to understand that being financially free doesn’t always mean having more, sometimes it means owning less. I hope that they will look back on their younger years and see that making memories holds far more value than making money. That in the end, if we have faith, we have everything we need.
The definition of a venture is ‘an undertaking of a daring journey that exposes you to the risk of loss.’ We travelled, we wandered, we drifted and in the end, what we gained from the situation is far greater than what we lost.