2017 Was A Failure (And I Loved It)

Our culture puts such a premium on success, and such sanctions on failure, that we find it hard to affirm the creativity that failure can contain. Most of us still treat failure as a terminal… The paradox is that failure may turn to growth, while success can turn to self satisfaction and closure.
— Parker Palmer

2017 is officially over by the time of your reading this, and though I try not to spend too much time in the past, doling out a limited supply of my energy & emotions to what is already solidified and done, I naturally cannot help but reflect on this past year as I write this just before it slips away.

When I step back from 2017 and observe it from a distance, arms folded as if looking in at a glass-enclosed museum exhibit, I let out a small chuckle through a smirk and say to myself, "Well that didn't go as planned."

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Normally, this would bother me, and I bet it bothers you, too, when things don't go as planned. I planned to sell a lot of art this year & spend much more time than I did mentoring young girls. I planned to gain a readership that spanned the country & inspired hundreds. 

And as I stand here looking at the forever-frozen-in-time exhibit that is now 2017, I can comfortably say that my plans failed. 2017 held a lot of failures for me, and as each wave of them rolled over me, one after the other before I could even really come up for air, I did not appreciate it in the least. 

In fact, to be honest, I was pissed. I was embarrassed. I was ashamed, and the "failures" of 2017 hardened a part of my confidence & self-worth for a while there. 

But from where I now stand, the view I have of this past year has changed considerably. 2017 did not go as planned. I flopped on my face so. many. times (some publicly, but mostly privately.) Those things are a reality that cannot be changed, but what can be changed (and has changed) is what those realities mean to me. 


Failure came to find a home in me, and I turned it away with everything in me. "Go away you nasty ogre!" I pushed against it, defeated & ashamed in front of those that loved me and whom I loved as well, trying to deny its existence. 

But why?

Why did failure have to be the ogre? Why did I have to hate it & bury it & repel it so much?

Parker Palmer, the author of the book I'm reading called The Active Life, paints failure as a creativity-inducing tool. I love creativity! I love creating. I want to create as much as possible. But guess when I don't create? When there is no need. When everything is hunky-dory. I actually create best from a place of inner frustration, often induced by banging against a closed door, aka- failing.

Failure has been the best tool for me in terms of creativity. I planned on selling my art as a means of income this year, and guess what? I didn't sell that much, but that "failure" drove me to tear up pallets, try out watercolor & teach myself to hand letter-- none of which would have happened if the 1st pieces I tried to sell actually sold. 

I have grown so much in failure this year. It has been the total opposite of a terminal, like Palmer writes. Failure is what made me consider personal training. Hitting a roadblock with my girls groups is what made me a better writer, with a more narrow audience who I believe is here on purpose

 

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Why am I writing all of this? Why am I essentially telling you how much of a flop 2017 was for many of my endeavors? Because I want you to see what a positive resource flops & failures can be! 

Go put all your worth behind success if you want. Go out and believe that only things that stick to plans & work on the first try are things worth talking about.

I believe otherwise, and it has made all the difference.

Thank you, 2017, for failing me.

Thank you for having other plans & for teaching me to let go and see failure as a means of growth and a gateway to creativity. 

My hope for you is that you forgive yourself for whatever your "failures" of 2017 were & that you begin 2018 with a new perspective on failure, because you are going to fail this year. It's inevitable. But it's also possible to embrace it rather than repel it. 

It's possible and it's more efficient. 

Happy New Year & here's to failures. 
I'll keep sharing mine with you (hopefully with some successes sprinkled in here & there, too!) as long as you'll have me.