No Matter How Many Times You Fall Down, You’ll Never Be A Failure

Joe St. Pierre
Joe St. Pierre

I don’t like the word ‘failure.’

In fact, I don’t really understand it. To me, ‘failure’ implies reaching the end of something—like you’ve done all you could and you still came up empty, or that you were attempting something and completely messed up. Or, if you’re using it as a noun, that you are a person who has just utterly f*cked up.

But when I think of reaching an end, or being empty, or destroying something, I think of new beginnings, not failure.

When you fail at something, it means you have a fair shot at starting over. Because what else to do you have left? Sure, you can definitely mess something up big time, but you always have a chance to begin again.

And you can’t really fail when there’s always room to try one more time.

See, that’s why I don’t agree with the word. Yes, there can definitely be a right and wrong way to do something, or directions to follow that you completely strayed from, or you could try and try and still not get what you want.

But even if you don’t do something right, even if you messed up somewhere along the way, and even if you don’t get what you want in the end—it doesn’t mean you failed.

Failure implies that there’s nowhere left to go, but when you hit rock bottom, the only place to go is up.

And the thing I don’t understand about ‘failing’ is the fact that you can forever start again. You can always hit restart—begin that same thing, or begin something new.

And in getting yourself back up, you’re totally shedding that ‘failure’ skin.

You’re not a failure. Or at least not permanently.

When I think about the word ‘failure,’ I think about the word ‘success.’ But what I don’t understand is why we see them as polar opposites—like if you don’t succeed, you fail. That’s absolutely not true.

Just because you don’t succeed at something doesn’t mean you’ve failed.

Maybe you’ve gained something else along the path. Or in the very least, maybe you’ve learned. And learning something definitely does not equate to failing.

Just the other night I was talking to one of my very best friends about failure. Someone close to her had said she’d failed, and like any normal human, she took that to heart, feeling like she’d never be good enough.

Her words really affected me. I wanted nothing more than to squeeze her, to pinch her, to tell her that feeling down was completely wrong. She wasn’t a failure and never would be. She was a fighter, a girl who always found a way back up after she’d been knocked down.

That’s not failing.

But she was stuck in her head, and no matter what I said, she couldn’t shake the feeling that she hadn’t ‘succeeded,’ so maybe that person was right, maybe she’d failed.

Even days later, I’m still thinking about her words, spinning them around in my head. It’s such a shame that the world sees failure by standards set by others, by the world.

You’re not a failure just because you didn’t make it to some mark set by society, or even if you don’t reach the goal you set for yourself.

You still have opportunities to try again. And you sure as hell tried, which counts. (And to be honest, trying lies more on the ‘success’ end of the spectrum than the ‘failed.’)

We all fall down.
And we’ll keep falling down.

Because this is life. Because this is normal. Because being a human is hard and our journey is all about finding ourselves after we’ve slipped. Finding ways to regain our footing over and over again.

No matter how many times you fall down, you’ll never be a failure.

That’s because you’ll keep getting up. That’s because you are and will always be good enough. And that’s because the opposite of success is not failure—it’s finding strength.

And I promise you, you’re stronger than you think. TC mark


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

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