When things aren’t going right in your writing life, it’s sometimes hard to separate your worth from what’s happening to you.
Rejections can start to make you feel like you’re the one being turned down, not your manuscript. Unread blog posts can begin to make it seem like no one cares about what you have to say — even if that’s far from the truth.
I say all this coming from a place of total understanding, of course. I’ve been writing for a long time. I’ve had as many ups and downs as the rest of you. I’ve had my share of moments (weeks? months?) when everything I did felt pointless and that made me feel like I didn’t matter, either.
But I’ve learned a lot. And I have something to tell you — whether you want to hear it or not.
You are not your failures. You never have been. You never will be.
You are not the rejections you’ve received. The criticisms that have been forced upon you. The projects you’ve worked on but no one ever read. The books and blogs and businesses you’ve started but had to leave behind.
No. You are a person who has tried, and keeps trying. Or you can be. If you don’t give up.
And yes. I know failure — especially what feels like many, many failures — can make you feel like you could give up right now. Just quit, leave it all behind, forget it ever happened.
But don’t forget that just because you’ve failed before doesn’t mean you will never succeed.
Failure is not a curse. It’s not something to be ashamed of or something you should regret.
The greatest teacher, failure is. You always have something to learn from it. Even if you don’t want to, or don’t think you could.
If we never failed, we wouldn’t ever be able to celebrate our successes, because success would be all we knew. And we would never learn how to handle being told “no.” We would never figure out that the best rewards come as the result of hard work and long-term dedication.
There is always a lesson. Whether or not you pay attention to and remember it is, in the end, up to you. The only way to completely avoid failure is to stop trying to succeed. But you can decrease your chances of failing by not just acknowledging your mistakes, but actively learning from and avoiding them in the future as well.
We all fail. We also all, in some way, succeed. Eventually.
Maybe failure is the best way to grow. The best way to hope. The best way to keep going. It may not seem like it now. But at some point, everything will change. And you’ll be glad you stuck with it long enough to fail enough times to learn what it feels like not to.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.
7 thoughts on “You Are Not Your Failures”
This whole post struck a cord, especially this part “We would never figure out that the best rewards come as the result of hard work and long-term dedication.” thanks, Meg 😊.
You’re welcome. That was my favorite part to write – I’m glad you found it relatable. :)
great post. yes i find it hard to separate writing rejection with personal rejection. hard to separate ourselves and our writing. sometimes when people criticise my work in a feedback group (which is why i go to the group in the first place, to get constructive criticism) i come home feeling very low. but i do pick myself up and work on the piece of writing some more and eventually realise that what they said was true. it’s just that it’s hard to take at the time.
I’m a firm believer that this is completely normal. I don’t think there’s really a writer or any kind of artist out there who doesn’t feel at least a little shaken when their work is judged — especially when it comes to criticism. Yes, we can learn to bounce back from it and continue on despite it. But in a way, it’s kind of like someone saying something negative about your kid — this thing that’s yours that you’re raising and taking care of. I think as long as we do the best we can to shake it off, and use it to fuel our forward movements, it’s not only normal, but healthy.
exactly. the criticism of our creativity is like someone telling us our baby is ugly :)
Wonderful post! Loved reading your relatable insights. I often find it difficult to reconcile failure and success, just because one would think that these ideas don’t go hand in hand, but the fact of the matter is that one cannot exist without the other. There have been many instances in my life as a student, as a professional in the making, and just as a human being where I have felt devastated when things haven’t gone my way. I also get frustrated with time, because for some reason, we live in a world where we need to achieve everything immediately, and when we don’t get what we want when we want it, we feel like we have failed too. Failure is a stepping stone in the process towards success, and I continue to try to make my peace with that every single day. Thank you for reminding me that failure is necessary and for sharing this amazing article. I really appreciate it :) Looking forward to seeing more of your posts.