Failure is an interesting topic for me. As someone who struggles with the ideals of perfection, failure is actually something I think about quite often. I know for me, my perfectionism is rooted in a solid belief that “I must not fail”. Does this make sense?..
I grew up thinking and wholeheartedly believing that failure is about the worst thinking that could happen. In my school years, failure was a very black and white idea. It meant not getting anything less than a B (I’m being 100% serious). My parents weren’t too strict on me when it came to grades, mostly because I was a good kid and always tried hard with my school work. But for myself, not being one of the top students in the class equated to failing.
After I graduated high school, my definition of failure shifted. Failure became not being employed and not passing my university courses. After surviving a lot of ups and downs in my uni days, I realised my fear of failure got the best of me. By the end of it, I tried dodging all the courses I didn’t like (but needed to take) since I knew I wouldn’t do as well in them (I have a hard time faking enthusiasm and motivation in courses I don’t like… HA!). I ended up burning out in uni so many times (also because life stuff was thrown in the mix). I really felt like I failed at university because I didn’t finish in 4 years with a 3.825 GPA and multiple job offers. (Fun fact: I’m actually a few credits shy of graduating.)
In my post university life now, with adulthood in full swing, I find my ideas of perfection/failure have shifted again. These days, failure is not being unhappy. I try my hardest to lead a happy life and trust that the necessities of life will take care of themselves in the process. I’ve gained more confidence in myself and my abilities (I really do think this comes with age), which helps me to trust that I will survive somehow/someway.
I think the shift in thinking over the years is able to show where my priorities lie and what I’m working towards. Right now, failure is living an unfulfilled and unhappy life. My quest for happiness in everyday life is the ultimate perfection – the failure is not living the life I want.