Failure is an event not a person

I can still remember the first time I heard the saying “failure is an event not a person”. Deep in conversation about the mistakes I had made in my life, brow furrowed and jaw set hard with disappointment, I wondered if I’d heard it right. Failure is an event. The thing that happened to me, not something I am. Whoa.

There might have been tears. I was a bit of a cryer then. I cried because I was emotionally strung out; Exhausted and in need of some loving care. The type of care and kindness you can only give yourself. I needed a break from the barrage of negative words in my own head. The love of my husband and my family could hardly break through anymore.

But somehow those words did. Failure is an event.

Do you know the disappointment of having your dreams dashed? I do. Did you feel it so hard in your chest that you thought the weight of it might crush you, push you to your knees, breathless in the way only grief can make you breathless. But you don’t grieve death in the traditional sense, you grieve a life lost. Yours. The one you planned. You’re a failure. A big one.

But you see you’re wrong. I was wrong; broken heart scattered on the floor and everything. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I wasn’t a failure. I had failed. Not being a failure gives you room to breathe again. Having encountered a failure, well that sounds manageable.

It sounds like semantics. I know, I hear you. But believe me your heart and soul are listening to those semantics. Try waking every day with the words YOU are a failure and giving anything another shot. There will be no room to navigate around that. You, the failure, won’t let you move past it. It’s something you know to be true about yourself now. You. The failure. The failure named Melissa.

Take some time today if you have been through a failure event to reframe the way you are thinking about it. Think of it like a town you drive through on your way to where you are going. Fall in love with the road trip and the unexpected bumps along the way. Admire that you are still here beyond that time you failed. On your knees sure. Maybe even on the floor, but still here. That makes failure separate to you. Failure is an event, not a person. You cannot be failure. You just visited there once. And my friends, it’s time to keep on driving.

Get the hell out of dodge. Breathe again. It’s going to be ok.