Thought Catalog
May 9, 2017

You Cannot Let Your Defeat Define You

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Erik Lucatero

You’re going to fail. No matter how hard you try to be perfect. No matter how much you study and all the effort you put in. No matter your attempts to make everything fall according to plan, and despite the meticulous, step-by-step path you create for yourself, sometimes you’re going to slip. Sometimes you’re going to mess up. Sometimes you’re not going to measure up, you’re going to falter, you’re going to let yourself and others down, you’re going to trip and land flat on your back. You’re going to fail.

But that’s okay.

No one in this world is perfect. No one has it all together, despite the photos and social media posts and smiling faces when you happen to bump into that person in public. No one is getting through life unscathed. No one is continuously on the up-and-up, never having a moment where they make a mistake or feel empty.

We’re all in this mess of life, trying to fight through, trying to make sense of our troubles, trying to find love and companionship and answers and hope.

And in this mess, we’re going to experience triumph and success and happiness, and we’re going to fail—that’s just how it is. But you cannot let the moments you falter change your course. You cannot let what brings you down shift your future, your perspective, your purpose.

You’re going to fail, and fail hard. But that doesn’t mean you’re any less of a person.

You cannot let the moments you slip change your self-image. Just because you messed up or went through something awful doesn’t mean that you are unworthy. It doesn’t mean that you need to carry your pain around with you like a badge on your chest for everyone to see.

You’re going to fall for someone who doesn’t reciprocate the feelings. You’re going to lose people. You’re going to try out for the team and not make it. You’re going to ask for a raise and get denied. You’re going to experience physical pain. You’re going to create something you think is magic, and find that others don’t connect the same. You’re going to fail.

But you’re going to learn, too. You’re going to grow. You’re going to take the ways that life has defeated you, and turn them into lessons. You’re going to find new wings and fly all over again.

Because defeat does not, and will not ever define you. And you can’t let it.

So take the negative moments of your life and try to see the positive. Keep your head up and crawl through your lowest times until you can find your footing again. Don’t be afraid of starting over, of letting go, of continuing through your brokenness.

You will be okay. You just have to hold on through the hard times and lean into the good. You have to know that life won’t always be so difficult and your fate will eventually turn around.

You have to remind yourself of all that you’ve pushed through already, and the strength within you. And you have to take the courage, the will, the fight from inside yourself and battle back.

It’s a bad day, a bad week, a bad month, a bad circumstance—not a bad life. Remind yourself of that and move forward, never letting what has defeated you convince that you will never rise again.

Because you can. And you will. TC mark

Marisa Donnelly is a poet and author of the book, Somewhere on a Highway, available here.