Is Failure an Option?
Shebah Etosha Brown
December 6, 2021
“Failure is Not an Option.”
We’ve all heard this phrase at least once in our lives, most of the time using it as a means to motivate ourselves in our quest to attain perfection. We wear it like a badge of honor in the hopes that our lives will have more meaning and purpose. But let me tell you a little secret: failure is a part of life…it is how we grow and evolve. We’ve been trained by society and our families to look at failure as a disappointment of life, but failure is a starting point in teaching us that we don’t have to strive for perfection. Take away the negative connotations that the word “failure” represents, it is not a reflection of who we were at that time of failure, where we are going, or who we are meant to be.
If you think about it, when we do our best to achieve a goal that we have set, or partner with others to achieve certain goals, we beat ourselves up if they are not met, and begin to think that somehow we are inadequate. But when you start to live in the disappointments of life, they become the flow of how you make decisions, and you’ll begin to live a life of fear, not enrichment. I’m here to tell you that you will fail at some point and at something in your life, it's inevitable. How you get up from that is what will set you apart.
In 2018, I knew that I wanted to write full time...so I began to put my feelers out there and I found a women's blog that accepted me and gave me the freedom that I was looking for as a writer. Although I knew the money would come eventually, my thought process during that time was to build my resume and my reputation as a writer and not necessarily the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I began building my contacts and resume as a freelancer, and for two and a half years, I invested my time and talent into helping young girls and women through my writing. I didn't earn any income for those two years — which in itself was crazy, and I’m sure looking back now it was not the best idea — but during those years of freelancing, I began to lose confidence in myself and in my ability to produce quality work.
I had thoughts that my work was not as good as everyone else’s. I also thought that if I wrote the most blog posts or volunteered to do the stories nobody wanted to write about that I was going to gain favor and thus in turn gain some financial footing, which did not happen. I had hit a brick wall. It had nothing to do with not being paid, it was the fact that I became overwhelmed with comparing myself to others, and to what the industry wanted. And to top it off, I was not getting the support from the people I thought should be supporting me. Creative writing was something that I had wanted to do all my life, but all of the pushback and non-supportive people made me circumvent my dream and go down a career path that was a bit more “practical”. I had so many things going on internally that I walked around with a lot of self-doubt and uncertainty. I stayed in my self-inflicted space of what I deemed as failure. And in order for me to get to a place of confidence and assurance, I had to remove the negative connotation that came with the word failure.
The day I changed the way I viewed my losses was when I began to see things in a better light. I did a lot of internal work to rebuild my confidence and self-esteem, and I took my losses as opportunities to regroup and strategize. In May of 2021, I decided to take my writing more seriously and start my business. When I stopped feeling sorry for myself, I began to actually produce the body of work that was life changing for the people it was meant to help. The value of what I had to say, along with my style of writing, placed me in the right creative spaces where I knew I would be celebrated and not tolerated. I removed my ego and allowed myself to hone in on my creativity. It was the best decision for me and my business.
Sometimes our failures are just the universe's way of saying, “Maybe you should try it a different way or bring in someone that can help you”. From the world's perspective, it may seem easier to do things on your own, but in reality nobody can do everything alone. “It takes a village”, as they say. Having a mentor, or a circle of people to guide you, can be what gets you to the other side of where you are trying to go. If you struggle with delegation or strategizing, do your research and find the people who are good at those things and build your team. Other times, our “failures” can signal that we may need a break to recharge, and that’s okay. Taking a break means that this is your chance to heal your mind, body and soul. As my mentor always says, “Rest, but don’t quit.”
Give yourself more credit for the things that you have accomplished in the short time you’ve been here on Earth. If you take a look back, you’ll notice you’ve come a long way and have conquered situations that you once thought were too hard to get through. Whatever you dream, you can achieve; the world is simply waiting on you to show up. Failure is not an option, but it is a choice.
about the author
Shebah Etosha Brown
Shebah Etosha Brown is an active creative writer and author living in Arizona with her husband, 3 children, and her red-slider turtle, Mikey. Since a young age, Shebah has
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