My life is pretty sweet. I have a lovely husband. Wonderful friends. Great dog. For the most part, I am a pretty happy, positive person. I am grateful for all that I have. I feel connected to the love that I believe connects us all. So how could I be feeling like a failure? What the hell?
What happened was, I stepped out of my comfort zone. Or, more accurately, I stepped back into a really uncomfortable one.
You see, I have never been very good at sports. Bit of a klutz. When I was a kid, I tried hard, but I never succeeded. Eventually I just stopped trying. But when old age starting feeling more like a reality than a vague notion, I knew it was time to get back on that horse. I went to my basement almost every day and walked on my treadmill. I bought a barbell, and lifted weights. I recorded my progress, and watched my improvements. I was feeling pretty good.
Then I signed up for and competed in a race. I’m not sure competed is really the right word. I participated. I was nervous and excited. But then, as I stood among those thousands of athletes, waiting for the starting gun to fire, doubt whispered in my ear. You don’t belong here. I tried to ignore it. It spoke louder. You’re not good enough. Suddenly, I was a stranger in a strange land. I didn’t know the secret handshake. I was a party crasher, waiting for someone to tell me to leave. Thousands of people passed me. When it was all over, and I saw my name near the bottom of the finishers list, I felt a bit queasy. Finally, I saw a picture of myself, overweight, red-faced and glistening, and I wanted to cry. And that lump in my throat became big black Clouds that blocked my light, and I could no longer connect to the love and warmth that guides my way. I got a bit lost.
For a week, I have been trying to wrap my head around this experience. To make sense of it. To gain some perspective. Today I received an email with this quote from Denis Waitley in it. “Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.”
It was just what I needed to hear. This experience, though not necessarily a failure, can be my teacher, if I allow it. It is not a dead end. It will not defeat me. It reminds me that we all struggle from time to time, and if we don’t, then we are just skimming the surface of this life. What’s the point if we say nothing, do nothing, and be nothing?
I foolishly believed that I had reached a state where doubts would only be a thing of the past. In my humanness, I forgot that I’m human.
So, once again, I am learning to cut myself some slack. To be kind. It is a lesson that I think I will work on until the day I die. Especially if I continue to step outside my comfortable box, which I hope will be the case. I will remember that these feelings are not truth. They are more like a flu…painful but temporary. Already I am seeing the sunshine that was hidden for a while behind those storm clouds. This too shall pass.