Have you ever heard that saying about failure? It’s not failing. It’s a First Attempt In Learning. Catchy, eh? But whether or not we can find wisdom in our failures, sometimes it just feels like we’ve failed. There’s no sugar coating it. We want a pity party, some chocolate and to put on our stretchy pants & sulk.
So how do we move past those moments of failure? How do we become the people on the other side of the trial with the perspective to say oh, I get it now? And how can we make it happen as quickly as possible? I don’t know that I can be your Yoda in all trials but today I can share a bit about how I’ve learned to overcome my own failures.
Let’s just go ahead and get everyone’s least favorite answer out of the way. It takes time. Like any break up, there’s something about time that gives us the ability to overcome. Maybe it’s meeting new people or experiencing new things. But time will always give us the space to see things we can’t so close to the situation. When you’re in the midst of the chaos, if it’s possible to remind yourself that a year from now things will be different, then try. And until that time comes, remember it’s all about the one day at a time. You’ll get there.
I don’t like to let go of things. Particularly when I feel like I’ve invested a good chunk of time into them. So when I took my version of temporary retirement from film, I felt like I had failed. I’d spent 3 years building contacts, working 80 hours a week, taking crap jobs and had finally hit my stride. I was in a place where I was working consistently, transitioning to a position I enjoyed and didn’t find myself with crazy gaps between shows. But alas, life & family stepped in. My step-father broke his hip, my mom needed her’s replaced, my dad passed away and in the midst of that I was trying to figure out how to define myself again.
I stepped away from film to help my parents out and I don’t regret that choice. I know it was the right thing for my life at the time. And last fall when I got the call to come to Atlanta for a movie, I had a perspective I didn’t the year before. Having lost a parent, I was able to see things differently. So instead of seeing my temporary career in film as a failure, I got to see it as the time I worked incredibly hard to achieve my dreams. But now my dreams were a little different and I needed to work hard on a new one. Failure gives us the opportunity to see things in a way we might not have if we’d gotten everything right the first time.
In the years of relationships that didn’t work out or decisions where I should have trusted my gut, I’ve gained something else. Failure has given me compassion. When you realize that you now understand a situation in way you never would have before, it changes things. Instead of being frustrated or at a loss for how to help someone, maybe you’ve gone through something because you are meant to help. Failure doesn’t have to be about the things you didn’t achieve but about the things you’ve learned and can help someone learn as well.
Recently, I was discussing with a friend how people change when they move to the LA movie scene. She described it as a sense of entitlement and arrogance. But it doesn’t have to be just the film world. It could be getting a promotion or dating the hot guy. We all have our things that make us strut like peacocks and shun the lowly people. Failure makes sure to knock us off that high horse. And while it certainly hurts at the time, failure might be God’s way of reminding you that you need some humility in your life. Maybe you’re too far down a path that’s changed you. Failure presents an opportunity for humility in a way like no other.
But if I’ve learned anything that really helps with failure, I’d say there’s no reason you can’t try again. Take the things you’ve learned from this failure. Take every detail large & small and use those to learn how to do better. Failure can truly be a learning experience if you let it. Remember, we’ve all got some loses in our court. Don’t let it keep you from getting up and playing the game again.
Photography by myself & Alaina