I am going to embrace failure at two very important things: losing weight and being patient with my grandmother. I addressed both failures yesterday with a very large, very tequila-y margarita, and it really helped me put things in perspective, even if it caused me to fail even more spectacularly at the weight thing. On the grandmother front, however, I became instantly successful. It’s as true now as it ever was: Margaritas heal.
But let’s talk about failure and why it’s important. Lots of people give up on stuff because they discover that they can’t do it, or that they can only achieve sporadic success. Basically, the shame of failures both big and small stops them from trying again, because it’s just too humiliating to have to face your total inadequacy.
I mean, yes, you may feel that way, but basically your feeling is wrong. It’s NOT too humiliating to face your inadequacy, because your inadequacy is part of who you are. YES IT IS. And this is true of the most successful person just as it is true of the least. No one is 100% adequate, 100% of the time.
Like my old Bible teacher used to say (yes, I had a Bible teacher at my goofy private religious high school, and yes, I still remember stuff he said. But I don’t still wear plaid skirts and crested blazers, except for Simon on occasion, but we won’t talk about that because that’s just kinky): If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing badly.
Is getting rid of my giant ass, squishy middle, and wobbly thighs important? SHIT YES! Then it’s worth doing it badly.
Is keeping a relationship with my crotchety, Alzheimery grandmother important? FLUCKING YES! Then it’s worth doing badly.
What I’m saying is, I’m committed to failing — but not just to failing: to failing and then TRYING AGAIN. I will be ashamed of myself, but I will not let shame stop me. (And talk to some of my college friends. I am really, really, really good at putting shame aside. Very awfully terribly good. Extremely, radically skilled at shamelessness. Yup.) Not letting shame stop you is one of the most liberating feelings you can have. It’s so freeing! You can be free to fail at ANYTHING that you deem worth the effort!
So here’s the deal: My goal is to lose 30 pounds by Dec. 31, 2014. That’s 10 pounds every four months, which gives me until the end of April to lose my first 10 pounds. Guess how much I’ve lost? None. I did drop two pounds, but I gained them back. I FAILED. Guess what? I don’t give a crap. I’m still committed. I still have good days, and I’m overall making better choices and exercising more. I may fail a lot and have a cupcake for breakfast like I did yesterday, or a margarita for lunch, but if I fall off my fat horse, I’m hauling myself back on board and spurring that old nag forward. Because even if I don’t reach my goal, by refusing to let failure stop me, I will at least lose SOMETHING. And something is better than nothing.
As far as my grandmother goes, even if I have a bad interaction with her, I’m not going to let that stop me from going back again the next day and being just as cheerful as I can. I may lose my cheerfulness about two and a half minutes into the interaction, but by golly, that’s how I’m going to start out. And here’s the thing: sometimes the cheerfulness wins out. Sometimes I have a GREAT time with my grandmother — like yesterday, when we went out for Mexican food, and giggled away over our rice and beans like two high school girls. (Um, YES Grandma had a margarita. Doctor said the occasional drink is good! And let me tell you, there’s no open bar over at assisted living!)
Essentially, I’m going to fail, but I’m going to fail up. I’m going to fail towards my goal. I’m going to do it very, very badly, but I am, by the power vested in me by no one except myself, going to DO IT.*
*Plaid skirt and crested blazer not required.