Failed at it Friday

I’ve decided I’d like to do a semi-regular post about things that didn’t quite go as planned. Realistically, it might not happen every Friday, but since the emphasis this year is on consistency, hopefully it’ll happen more than once. My thought behind Failed at it Friday is twofold: for me and for you.

Me first

I notice that when I’m feeling down and out, I feel isolated and unable to express it. I feel like many people see me crushing goals at the gym, painting, completing diy projects, overdressing or hear about my habits and think I’ve got it all together. Then when I’m drowning in overwhelm, I have a hard time allowing other people in to see that I’m also a person that struggles, too.

Maybe I have a hard time showing my struggling side to people who care about me because I think I won’t be valuable as a mess. I feel like it’s my job to bring light to others, it’s my purpose to increase energy and joy, and without those characteristics, would people even want me?

Regardless of the irrationality of that thought pattern, I learned recently in The Myth of Normal by Gabor Maté that much of these irrational thought patterns (we all have some) and even many personality characteristics are learned as survival techniques in childhood. I’m not embarrassed to have that irrational thought pattern, because I didn’t pick it. It chose me as I coped with being a cancer kid and the abandonment of my father while I was undergoing chemo.

Though I’m not embarrassed, it’s very much engrained in me and I’d like to practice etching it out. I’d like to use Failed at it Fridays to be vulnerable and open about my shortfalls. I know that failing is conducive to succeeding, so I’m going to get used to showing that sucky side and allowing myself to present my whole self, rather than only my good sides.

You too

Everyone wins when other people are allowed to be their full, authentic selves, flaws and all.

But also, often someone will be impressed with a task that I’ve achieved, like building a mud room bench with a friend and I feel a tightness in the air as I’m moved onto a pedestal that I didn’t want to be placed on. My friend was the mathematician behind the bench and gave me confidence in the tools that I’ve used elsewhere sense. You can learn to use power tools too! Showing failures, I think, will allow people to see how accessible tasks they haven’t tried are.

A question I’ve also gotten a few times over the years when I share triumphs (but never pitfalls) is “how do you do it all?” Well, I don’t, but I’ve attributed it to pulling all nighters and not watching TV when I was in my 20’s and having good habits and staying off of social media (and TV) in my 30’s.

The real answer, with some introspection, is that I do all that I do because I try and I’m always curious about what else I can do.

With trying, comes failing. When you take a step back and look at those failures, that’s one more step toward succeeding.

This Failed at it Friday, I’m focusing on last week’s failures

I got this idea last Friday after three failures really put me through the ringer, but my kid came down with a fever, then I came down with a fever, and that little virus for him was an all week, including one admission to overnight in hospital for me. I couldn’t manage to learn anything from failing at catching a virus, so we’ll stick with those big things that made for an overall devastating week.

1. I absolutely BLEW UP at my teen

Like, crazed maniac shit, and I’m not even a yeller. My husband was away on business on the other side of the world for ten days and I didn’t secure the proper childcare or “backup” ahead of time. Everything that brings my life constancy and order was upended, because my regimented (and much-loved) routines rely on everything being mis en place. In some instances that calls for one of my husband’s tasks, or my teen’s tasks.

Well you know that virus that sent me to the hospital? My teen had that same one while my husband was away. For five days, he had a fever and was laid up while I was fetching him water, tissues, medicine, regular mom with sick kid business Each day things were getting shifted further and further from ideal or okay or even bearable. When he was two days without fever and I was suffering from severe neck and shoulder pain where I couldn’t even turn my head, I asked him to do a task and he refused. And then another, siting his sickness, My sickness was loud. I got louder,

2. I failed at a rebuild

The day before my husband left, the trashcan broke. Well, the cabinet that holds the trashcan. Too much sink water dripped on it over the years and all the particles of the particle board shredded up into teeny tiny pieces down the sink waterfall until I pulled the cabinet handle one day and the cabinet facing came off of the custom trash-holder-ma-jig that some fine, particleboard-loving fellow built in 1985 or so. I felt so handy as replicated three of its pieces to rebuild that inner working, but when I put the drawer hardware on it to put it back in and bask at my many winning characteristics, I found that I didn’t take into consideration the 1/4″ additional thickness of my plywood versus the particleboard!


The thing doesn’t fit in the space in which it belongs. Everything is half an inch off, and there’s a lot more work for me to to.

This seems like a smaller failure than that I previously mentioned, but these are compounding failures. While I struggled with less and less order in my life, I also had the mess from a half project. While my son wasn’t doing his main chore, taking out the trash, I had an uncovered kitchen trashcan. Ultimately, it was just another thing I couldn’t get right in a long week of things going wrong.

3. I’m off the schedule at work

This one is really embarrassing because it was a major blow, but it was also totally the right call and I wasn’t hurt by the decision. Being a personal trainer in a group setting, especially the standard that HQ has set forth with the rebrand, calls for a lot. Your eyes are everywhere all at once and literally every 5 seconds count. The rebrand is new and my gym didn’t yet have training protocols, so I was on the schedule earlier than I should have been, honestly. We reigned it back for a bit so I can come in and work as a support trainer, gain more of those soft skills to get in people’s space and push them really hard, times thirty to sixty people, as intensely as possible for forty-five minutes.

I probably could have met the standard sooner (I had trained 11 days) if I had planned better before my camps, practiced more, etcetera. My biggest failure that led up to this was thinking I had already achieved “the goal” by being hired on. Or allowing myself to be so harried that I was trying not to think much about training outside of the days I worked. I was wanting Trainer to be a new identity of mine, but I was sheepish about taking on all of what it entailed–probably because overwhelm with other junk.

I’m looking forward to not having the stress of running an entire camp while I focus on getting better at individual aspects of training, so I’ve been disappointed that this entire week went by with me too sick to do so. But ultimately I was left with a week of rest and pause for reflection–a gift, because the harried way I had been going about things as of late needed immediate change.

A failure to plan is a plan to fail

That’s what all of these big, recent failures amount to. Everyone knowwwwwsss Measure twice, cut once. Every woodworking project of mine seems to end up with shortsighted issues like the trashcan one. I know that nothing is a waste of time if you learn from it, and you can bet I’ll be thinking of wood thickness if I’m trying to replicate something in the future.

I failed to line up enough help, and this was NOT my first time with a trip like this that culminated with a breakdown like this. Next time, I resolve to have scheduled, specific help for every day of an absence like that one.

Next week, I’m going to be at the gym as much as I can. I was so overloaded with everything that my only way to deal with a new thing was to half-ass it, and I whole-ass everything! I’m going to hire some childcare (it’s currently jsut me and my husband, no family–nothing) and push my family to be more equally-contributing members of our tribe.

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