Some Thoughts About Failure and Success

primrose1One morning last week, I woke up feeling vaguely guilty and rather like a failure.  Now that isn’t terribly unusual, but I didn’t know what was wrong this time.  As I thought about it, I realized my feelings were somehow connected to the fact I had been to the grocery store the previous evening.It so happens this trip to the grocery store had gone perfectly well, but there have been many times in my life when a trip to the grocery store meant the purchase and consumption of vast quantities of inappropriate foodstuffs.  I have come to associate going to the grocery store with breaking promises to myself and feeling like a failure.I have trained myself.Last week I was also thinking about writing and wondering why I hadn’t felt like a success when HOLD ME was published.  After all, the publication of a book is the popularly accepted definition of success for a writer.

After some thought, I realized that what makes me feel I’m a successful author is to write consistently.  After HOLD ME was published, I stopped writing.  I got all caught up in publication and promotion and other things successful authors were “supposed” to do.  Because none of those things matched my definition of success, I rushed after things that meant nothing to me and sent myself into a downward spiral.

I let other people define my success.

I guess what I’m trying to say in this rambling little blog post is, first, we can train ourselves to feel like failures.  We train ourselves with our actions, and we train ourselves with our thinking.  Because I have a history of making choices at the grocery store that are not appropriate for my diabetes, because I consistently ignore promises I’ve made to myself and spend money I don’t have on things I don’t need, I associate the grocery store with failure.  But now that I know I’m trained that way, maybe I’ll be kinder to myself when I’m in those situations.

Second, we are the only people who can define success for ourselves.  For me, I feel the most successful, the most comfortable in myself, when I am writing.  Writing itself is my definition of success, not promotion or even publication.  In the past, I have let other people define both my success and my failure based on their thoughts and actions, not on what I consider to be the most important thing.  But now that I know I’ve done that, maybe I’ll be better able to keep on my own path.

And so, let us keep muddling through knowing we have done the best we could, let us be kind to ourselves when we fail, and let us remain true to our own definitions without imposing them on others.

Have a great day.



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