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Flunking out

I said this in a conversation with grammardog tonight, and I want to repost it here, as a partial explanation about why I haven't updated very much lately:

I just feel like one personal disaster after another. And like everyone has to pretend to be happy for me at each giant change, like it doesn't also represent a giant failure.


( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 26th, 2011 09:35 am (UTC)
I don't know that much about what's been going on in your life right now, but I do know what it feels like for changes to feel like failures. I'm thinking about the whole clouds having silver linings thing here: of the things that have happened to me that directly lead to something good.

Hang in there.
Sep. 26th, 2011 10:35 am (UTC)
I keep hearing: "That sounds exciting!" and "At least you're..."

All I want to do is sleep.
Sep. 26th, 2011 11:12 am (UTC)
I think you're maybe thinking about life in terms of goals and success and failure rather than, I don't know, giving yourself the emotional space to have learning experiences. I don't think life is a series of successes or failures so much as it is a series of opportunities to ... rise to the occasion? Grow? Learn? These are usually not fun or at least not all fun.

Thing is, that I think you've risen to the occasion on a number of occasions, and you continue to do so. I think you're maybe looking at your inability to completely control your surroundings and get what you want out of them as failures, and that's maybe a bit unreasonable in terms of expectations? And that sometimes the goal we set is the wrong goal, and the success is in figuring that out and finding a new goal, rather than in achieving the goal that was the wrong goal in the first place?

It's hard to talk about this stuff as vague generalities, and I don't want to get into details from your life and put thoughts in your head, so I'll use details from mine.

I started this business with the other people from my department at our erstwhile employer's, and I really wanted to have a successful editing business in which I was working with other people. Only one of them couldn't deal with the fact that the rest of us wouldn't agree to a structure in which she wasn't getting paid, like, three times as much as the rest of us for the value of her contacts and experience (which have netted her exactly no work in the past several months). Another couldn't take the uncertainty of running a small business. And we turned out to be not so good at treating each other like partners and colleagues, without the structure of an established department. So that business, while more or less successful on paper for the six months it existed, was a failure in terms of my goals, which were to establish a successful editing business long-term with these people.

But I couldn't control M's need to be the boss and have the status. I couldn't control the way my erstwhile partners communicated, or didn't communicate. I had my share of poor decisions, and I won't make the same mistakes again, but maybe that business was just the wrong project. We learned that and now I'm trying to figure out what's the right way for me to be earning a living.

That said, I haven't exactly been posting about my learning experiences and growth opportunities to LJ, because I'm pretty sure that it makes for boring reading, so I kind of hear you there, too.

Sep. 26th, 2011 12:40 pm (UTC)
Feeling that way sounds like a good personal reason not to blog. It's sounded like you have put some pressure on yourself to do this more, and you don't need that. So good for you for doing what you feel like doing.

About the feeling though: I hope that in all that you can remember that you are AWESOME, and that the seeds of good things will grow in the dead stuff. Are growing. And that you deserve it.
Sep. 26th, 2011 03:56 pm (UTC)
A) Yes, don't feel pressured!

B) I think people are genuinely happy for you in part because you generally present things with a positive and optimistic spin. Which is not a bad thing but leads us to be happy because it seems you're happy, but if that's not how you're feeling than it can lead to a disconnect between our reactions and what you think our reactions should be. Your readers are by and large very caring and if it's a different type of support you need and reach out for, no one will blame you for that either. Or if you just want to keep to yourself, also all good.

C) That being said, I don't generally see the events in your life as failures. I mean, if they were utter failures your life would be a heck of a lot worse now than it was 5 or 10 years ago. But I don't think you'd want to be where you were 5 or 10 years ago (definitely not 5!) and so your changed circumstances are a sign of growth and change, painful though it is at times. But that doesn't negate the pain and negative things that come along with change.
Sep. 26th, 2011 04:48 pm (UTC)
I think that, to me anyway, a lot of the changes you've made recently (or, at least, the ones that I know about) have been things that I have genuinely been excited about for you. Or, maybe not excited, exactly, but happy that you've made a change that seems like it will be for the better. I definitely don't see anything in your life that could be classified as a giant failure. I mean, maybe my view is coloured by the fact that I think you are so great that you probably fart rainbows, but anyway.

In summation: hugs. And chats, if you want. Also tea and chocolate, which I have in abundance at my house.
Sep. 26th, 2011 05:16 pm (UTC)
sending love from vancouver in the rain.

write lots.
whether private or public.

Sep. 26th, 2011 08:49 pm (UTC)
Both Sarah and Anne said some of the things I was thinking - and also, maybe because you are so good at and busy with being encouraging and affirming of other people's changes and ambitions, it's possible you don't do that for yourself with the same enthusiasm?

I think you are brave and strong and awesome.
Sep. 26th, 2011 09:50 pm (UTC)
Do you ever consider the beneficial value of these failures? I know it sounds flaky, but in many ways I feel like the continued presence of failure has an incredible worth and importance equal to a person's ability to achieve their goals. A failure does not necessarily mean a loss. The aspects of my identity of which I am most proud are almost universally the product of failure. They have left me with skills and knowledge I didn't have before. Essentially, that's the IDEA behind success- to come out better than you were before. So really I think the problem often really how you classify success and failure.

I know this likely doesn't pertain to whatever specific things you are thinking about, but despite not knowing you super well, I think you should in general consider yourself a great success.

Sep. 26th, 2011 09:50 pm (UTC)
That's....kind of why I haven't been saying much either. So if it helps to know you're not alone...yeah, you're not alone.

But I realized today that maybe it takes coming to that kind of epiphany to motivate you to do something about it finally. It took me a sudden realization that ", the past couple years of my life have really kind of sucked" to get me going on finally starting to take baby steps to do something about it. In order to get yourself out of a have to first acknowledge that you're IN a jam. So maybe this is all the Universe's way of making each of us realize "I am officially now In A Jam."

still feels blecchy, but the good thing is that owning that fact I can do something about it.
Sep. 26th, 2011 11:42 pm (UTC)
Going through something similar and was talking about it with the therapist today. Her advice was basically to stop trying so hard, and to know that sometimes it's okay just to lie on the couch and cry.

It's hard advice to put into practice -- I'm trying to stop subconsciously resisting it as I type this, but it's not a bad idea.
Sep. 27th, 2011 04:34 pm (UTC)
I had this saved to comment on last night and got distracted.

But, you know what? Granted this is from far away, but I don't think I've ever interpreted anything you post as a failure. I've always read it as a) moving onto a new adventure, b) learning something about yourself, or c) having the courage to take risks.

Also, it's a good reminder to me to think that because there are so many things that in my life that I'm always tempted to interpret as failure, when an outsider (hell, everyone I've shared with) would see them as awesome and brave. So I think we need to give ourselves more credit, y'know?
Sep. 27th, 2011 05:33 pm (UTC)
You are a series of 0 personal disasters.

I don't mean to say that nothing has been hard, or everything has fine your way, or anything of the sort, but you have been hitting them out of the park in terms of accomplishments. No-one is feigning being proud of you - look at their reactions to things like your rash or elevator door catastrophe for examples of how they behave when something sucks for you. No phony rose-tints, just sympathy.

You moved to Toronto, which you've wanted to do for years. You got the job you were excited for, and they're excited to have you. You aren't just pretending to adore you apartment. You are having a ball socializing with new and old friends, and a million adventures a week with someone you love. Even the cats are behaving better.

You haven't failed at anything. You feel guilty about our relationship, but it's misplaced. You didn't fail at it. It stopped being right. If there's anything else you think is a disaster that people are being polite about, I don't know of it.

You are so accustomed to putting on a brave face that you may not know anymore when it really just is your actual face and things are awesome for you.

Again, I'm not saying nothing is hard. But you're doing great.
Sep. 27th, 2011 05:36 pm (UTC)
Thanks, homie. I love you.

I don't think it's just "guilt" that I feel. I'm also mourning and sad and miss you so much.

I also for sure wasn't accusing anyone of insincerity!

Sep. 27th, 2011 06:50 pm (UTC)
I mentioned guilt because that's the part that has something to do with feeling like you've failed, I think.
Sep. 27th, 2011 11:55 pm (UTC)
I didn't mean that you were accusing anyone of insincerity, but you said that you feel like they have to pretend. So I was offering contrary evidence to whatever supports that feeling.
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