Things at which I have failed in the last 24 hours:
- Being height-weight proportionate, therefore
- Being able to fit into all those clothes I bought back when I’d lost a bunch of weight, or
- Being willing to buy new clothes, because by gosh, I will keep losing weight this time for realsies even though it hasn’t worked so well historically, so
- Dressing like I have any idea how fashion works, what looks good on me, or for that matter, what size I even am.
- Exercising or maintaining dietary habits that would bring me any closer to changing #1 (I can’t turn down free pizza. I’m pretty sure it’s in the Bible or the Constitution or something.)
- Using those sticky pore strip things. I don’t want to talk about it. It was a fiasco.
- Taking a shower, because I’m not leaving the house today, and for that matter,
- Leaving the house today.
- Not freaking out when we left the house yesterday, because we had to drive on the scary highways. On the plus side, I did not actually shut all the way down, though I may have blathered for a while to distract myself.
- Having enough money in the bank to:
- Make a down payment on a house, or
- Make a down payment on a car, or
- Make a down payment on a pony, or
- Survive for six months in case of layoff, or
- Survive for one month in case of layoff.
- Calling my college friend who wanted me to call her; see also:
- Calling my mother,
- Calling anyone who knows things about real estate,
- Calling anyone at all whom I was not literally being paid money to call.
- Writing a blog post.
- Walking the dogs. Fortunately, we have a backyard, so they can do their business there.
- Playing folk tunes I have successfully played before. Violin practice today was…screechy.
- Practicing for the full hour I’d set aside. My poor neighbors didn’t sign up for that.
- Working on bushwhacking the weeds that are slowly devouring the back yard. And the front yard. And the side yard. And the flower pots, fer cryin’ out loud. Stupid trees with their stupid helicopters.
- Dusting, vacuuming, or sweeping. Basically anything involving making the floor cleaner than it currently is.
- Ditto for the shelves.
- And the bathrooms.
- And the windows.
- And my desk.
- Writing book reviews of the last five-that’s-right-I-said-FIVE books I’ve read. In my defense, three of them are a series and I’m planning to review them all together.
- Finishing that other series I started, which Moon Man has finished but I got distracted.
- Having flawless skin, hair, nails, teeth, or indeed any other body part. I thought acne was supposed to just be a teenager thing. APPARENTLY NOT.
…and that’s just the last 24 hours, y’all. And just the first 15 things I thought of off the top of my head. I also failed at setting up my sewing machine or using it in any kind of way, or organizing the freezer despite things falling out when I open the door, or decluttering any part of this rummage sale we call a house. I have not been a rock star in the last 24 hours, so to speak; I’ve barely been a rock.
But you know what? That means nothing whatsoever about me as a human being. Yes, I could have made some more productive choices. Yes, I could have done some more productive things. But my decision not to do so–my failure to accomplish stuff–does not mean that I am personally a failure. To swipe a line from Zig Ziglar,
Here’s the thing, gang: today is World Suicide Prevention Day, and I think that makes today an excellent day to be having this conversation. I have dealt with depression for as long as I can remember–some days with more grace and triumph than others–and one of the first things depression will tell you is that you are a failure.
But today, on a day when I’m feeling clear and sane, let me tell you a secret: Depression is a damn liar. It’ll tell you all sorts of things that aren’t true. It’ll pick up things you’ve heard from other people, jokes the jerks in school made, gossip that spilled over from the water cooler, snotty comments the tv commercial people make in an attempt to sell overpriced skin creams, and it’ll repeat them back to you. It will enumerate your shortcomings. It will compose entire epic sagas about the things you are not and may never be (I once cried for an hour because I was never going to be on MTV’s Real World. I don’t even want to be on that show–and I’m too old for it now anyway–but the fact that I wasn’t “one of the pretty people” was devastating to me that day). It will tell you just enough truth to make you think it’s all true, and then it will sucker punch you in the gut.
And one of its favorite lines is “you’re a failure”.
But now you’ve got a bit of ammunition to use against that one. I fail at things, you fail at things, we all fail at things. Nobody is perfect, as they say, and if they were they would be spectacularly boring. You are not meant to be perfect: you are meant to be flawed and bumpy and lumpy and have baggage, because that’s how we connect to each other–it’s like rock climbing, where you rely on the craggy bits and broken-off parts to make it to the top. If it were “perfect”ly smooth, you’d slide right the heck off.
Failing at things is ok, gang. You’re allowed to fail at things. You’re allowed to fail spectacularly sometimes, because that’s how the quickest learning gets accomplished. You’re allowed–heck, I’d argue that you’re required–to be imperfect.
So the next time the inner demons come nosing around, remind them that failure is an event–a thing that happens and is done, whereas you endure. Explain that you’ve got plenty of time left to sort out what went wrong and take a different approach tomorrow. Tell them to sod right off, because you’ve got gloriously fail-full living to do.
And if their voices get too loud, if you (or someone you love) find that you just can’t seem to shout them down, please also remember that you’ve got backup: you can always, always, always call the folks at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can reach them at
and they have all the time in the world to listen, to care, and to help connect you with other folks who will also listen and care. You’re not failures, kids, you’re humans. And we love you for it.