How to be a perfect failure

I’m sure we’re all familiar with the feeling, the alarm goes off, the phone comes up, and the deluge of notifications and to-do’s floods our mind. We quickly leave whatever rest behind and rush into the day.

Spilling your coffee, saying something you didn’t mean to say, submitting a just okay article at work, accidentally snapping at a loved one, not getting your outfit ‘just right.’ Our day is filled with little and sometimes big failures. I say this not to be discouraging but to highlight the fact that no one goes through a day without these entirely human experiences. Instead of viewing them as yet another example of how we failed, I’ve recently been taking a different approach. I’ve been accepting them. With open arms, I’ve been embracing these failures in all their forms.

At first, it made me cringe, I was uncomfortable. How could these mistakes be anything but more examples of how I’ve failed as a human? Perhaps you think I’m dramatic, but realistically, as a die-hard perfectionist, these are the actions that make or break my mood. And I’m not alone. Perfectionism is rife in our society. Not everyone suffers as I do, but most can agree, the pressure is on to be immaculately put together and performing well at all times.

female silhouette with crescent moon in background at dusk

Let’s be real though, perfection is impossible. Even in the natural world, there’s no such thing as a perfect circle. So, I had to find a way to let go of my insane expectations, bit by bit.

My first step? Practicing being a perfect failure. That meant that on every trip or slip, I had to offer myself love and compassion. Instead of criticism and harsh complaints, I had to say gently, it’s all good, this isn’t the end of the world.

What a mantra- this isn’t the end of the world. But for a perfectionist like me, this mantra is precisely what I need. As time passed, and at every kind word I spoke to myself instead of hate, I grew. Slowly, I became able to accept failure gracefully and with that came knowledge and an opportunity. When my energy wasn’t focused so much on what I did wrong, I was able to see where I had gone right and capitalize on those successes, minor as they may have been. I get more done, in less time, and am able to adapt quickly to situations that used to baffle me or set me back three days in self-pity. Ironically, practicing being a failure has been my greatest success.

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