As I get ready to ramp up my effort on The List, I want to make it clear that I’ve tried stuff throughout my life – lots of stuff. And I’ve failed many times even when I tried hard. Since I’ve failed plenty, I’ve questioned if my endeavors are worth a sometimes exhaustive, spirit-dampering effort. The answer – I know — is that anything I’m doing IS WORTH THE MF’ING EFFORT. Failing is proof I’m trying hard, I like to tell myself. Failing is part of the success even when there is no notable success.
Not all failing has been in my control, but here are just a few ways I’ve failed in my life:
Let’s start with my conception. My timing was a failure even before I was conscious. I was a big surprise, especially to my eighteen-year-old mother. From the beginning, I was behind the eight ball.
In catholic elementary school, in general, I was a fuck up. I was usually the example of what not to do. My grades were shitty. I was constantly playing kickball and tag with the boys, which was not allowed at my school in those days. One nun literally told me, “When we go to mass today, we don’t need you hanging from the chandeliers.”
In high school, I tanked my grades in my senior year because I ditched school two times a week on average to play basketball at Memorial Park.
Though I was the MVP of your very mediocre Santa Monica Vikings, only one college scouted me: Northridge. They hinted at a partial scholarship, and I had no tools on how to follow that up.
I didn’t go to college.
I pined hard about going to college. Then did nothing about that.
Once, I landed an interview for a job I really wanted, then marked down the wrong day and showed up to the interview a day late. What a heel!
I was hired to be a salsa dancer for the movie Mambo Kings, but I failed to take the offer. I was too scared to leave any of my three jobs for something that seemed frivolous. Sigh.
When I was a broker, and as soon as I started to make real money — more money than I’d ever seen before — I blew most of it like a total idiot. And I ruined my credit.
I once fell on the dance floor during a salsa exhibition when my partner stepped on my shoe. I don’t even need a metaphor for failing and getting back up — this one is literal.
I have failed at my share of relationships and friendships.
I failed at owning a business.
I should have written three books by now.
In fact, I was accepted to and went to (a few times) a prestigious writing program called Squaw Valley Community of Writers where successful writers and teachers told me I had real talent, and I’ve failed to carve enough time in my life to actually write. This is an ongoing and heartbreaking failure.
I haven’t improved any of my weightlifting in years, and I’ve tried hard on cleans especially.
I’ve messed up this parenting thing a few times even when it’s the thing I work at most.
I bonked so hard at the end of the Oakland Hills trail half marathon that I legitimately questioned how I was going to get out of the basin of the woods, and I questioned if I ever wanted to trail run again when trail running is one of my most favorite things.
For the first 42 years of my life, I failed to realize that I alone am responsible for my happiness. Sometimes I still forget.
I talk a lot about failure and not shying away from it. There are still so many things I didn’t list. If you know me in person or from social media, my life seems pretty spectacular. That’s because it is, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t gone through a lot to get here or that I still don’t feel vulnerable putting myself out.
I still constantly wonder if I’ve done enough, if I’ve tried hard enough. Possibly not, but I’m just going to keep going. I’ll dust myself off, and try again harder at the things I’m passionate about even if they’ve eluded me before. What else am I gonna do? Without the constant getting back up, my life would not be anywhere near as spectacular as it seems – and is.