Failure does something to you. It breaks you. Especially if it has happened more than once. And for some, just once is enough. Failure will, whether or not you realize it, make you lose faith in yourself and your abilities. You’ll start to trust less and less in what you’re capable of. You’ll start to feel like people can no longer see you for who you really are. They only see the mistakes you’ve made and the failures you can no longer erase. You feel judged even when no one is particularly looking at you. The way that people treat you changes. You don’t want to be pitied or scorned or looked down on but somehow these are the only ways people know how to respond.
It stings. It unnerves you. And that’s when it all starts. You start to forget who you are. It becomes difficult to convince yourself that you can succeed at anything you set your mind to. You continue down this road over a period of time and you keep failing at different things; your relationships, your choices, your goals. Soon enough you’re wondering if it’s all worth the effort. You’ve failed at so many different things that you start to call yourself a failure. You define yourself by all the things you couldn’t accomplish and wallow in your grief. “I’m a failure,” you tell yourself. Eventually you lose focus entirely. You can’t remember who you used to be before you failed. You’ve lost sight of your dreams and you can no longer find joy in little victories, because a part of your brain has been conditioned to wait for the disappointment, like a wild cat preying on a deer. Your failure awaits. And surely, not long after, it’s there again. You sink deeper, you die a little more.
Soon enough you forget who you are. Nothing motivates you long enough. Nothing interests you. You’re become bored. You’ve come to accept your fate as something you can’t change. So you start to settle. You settle for a life that’s less than what you’d hoped for. You settle for a relationship you don’t need to put too much work into. You settle for a job that allows you limit your creativity. You settle for friends like you who have settled for you. You settle for the failure.
Who are you now? What have you become? When did your heart stop beating?
Your strength isn’t only in the things you can do. It is in what you choose to do. It is in choosing to get up when you fall, it is in choosing to keep at it when you fail, it is in choosing to do better when the first few tries don’t work, it is in choosing to put in more effort, in choosing to hope against hope. Your strength is in your choices.
You didn’t disappear, you merely forgot who you are. You let the grief blind you from seeing your true potentials. But you’ve been in there the whole time. You just can’t remember. So let me remind you.
You are as authentic as the day before your fall, and more so because you choose to stand. Your goals are as achievable as the day you conceived them. Your plans are still feasible. Your hands are still skillful and your mind can still secrete creative juices. You didn’t lose your divinity. You only forgot for a moment that you were divine so you dropped your crown. Your failure doesn’t define anything about you. It is your choices that do.
It doesn’t matter if the rest of the world doesn’t see you for who you really are, it matters that you see yourself. The most important words you will ever hear are those that you tell yourself. So find yourself in the things that really matter, in the things you love, in the tiny details that count. Finish that book. Take that trip. Dump that jerk. Work that job. Run that mile. Find your peace. Live.