Everything up until our 20’s has been somewhat influenced by cultural rights of passage and expectations. Basically we’re programmed to achieve. We are supposed to graduate college, get the amazing job and immediate promotions. Or perhaps it’s finding that perfect spouse to fall in love with and start a family, followed by finding the perfect house that you can grow old and start a family in. But no one tells us what to do when it doesn’t happen, especially when it doesn’t happen in a certain time line or sequence of events. We’re pushed so hard to succeed and achieve that we neglect to think about how to cope when things don’t work out in that defined way. If we don’t succeed and check the boxes of cultural rights of passage our anxiety grows and our self-worth can deteriorate. At this point we fall trap to believing that we have failed. We live in the future of where we should be and in the end punish ourselves for our present life. The truth is, there is no such things as failure, there are life lessons and choices. The trick is viewing these perceived failures and unique points of adventure in your own personal life journey.
This blog post is dedicated to all of those who feel that they have failed. That in some way they have messed up and feel off track. I want to reassure you that everything will be okay and in return I want you to tell me the same. We’re all on our own adventure of life and it’s time we acknowledge that it’s not all rainbows and puppies every day, but there is something to be grateful for in every good or bad moment. In my twenties I spent a great deal of time making mistakes, whether it was dating the wrong guy (or no letting go of the wrong guy and sending late night text messages to ease the pain and gain connection), I “failed” in my corporate career because I wasn’t promoted to the next level because of my personality, I spent too much money and didn’t pay off enough of my debt, and I didn’t have a serious boyfriend or fiancé even though the majority of my friends did. When I would peruse facebook I constantly compared myself to peers, “look at their life, it’s so much better than mine”, was a constant stream of thought going through my mind. But it didn’t have to be for me and it doesn’t have to be for you. You can choose to look at your failures as points of adventure, they are new points in the map of life where you have the opportunity to take a different course of action.
This is your life, it is your choice. Be a defector of the cultural rights of passage. Blaze your own trail. Who cares if you don’t have the perfect job yet, it means that you still have time to explore career options. Who cares if you’re single, you have more free time to discover the world and try everything YOU want to do. Who cares if you don’t have a house, you have more time to live life and less time to spend maintaining your home. Who cares if you don’t have children yet, you have more time to sleep in and more money to spoil yourself with (or save). Just because it seems as if everyone else is doing something it doesn’t mean you have to. The beautiful thing is that this life is your own adventure, you have your own wonderful choices. You can be who you want and challenge the norm. You can create your own life path free of the pressure from others.
If you are still feeling less than empowered about your present life, find some peace in the quote that “everything happens for a reason.” This is one of the hardest life lessons to believe but as time passes think about how truthful it is. Write down your perceived failures and create a silver lining. Mark the point of adventure that began when you thought you failed. For example, me not getting the corporate promotion (though difficult and “embarrassing”) resulted in me starting my own business. We all have those moments but it’s our choice on how to redefine our failures into our lessons and victories. It’s your life to live, choose YOUR happy life. Now get out there and blaze your own trail!
“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”
Jenn DeWall, Denver based, International Life & Career Coach and motivational speaker