When I was little, our house had the most beautiful window on the top half of the front door. It had a faceted border that would cast rainbows all around it on sunny afternoons. The light had to hit just the right way, and I never knew when I would see a rainbow in my path on my way down to eat dinner or running to an outside adventure. We barely used that door at all, but it would always throw me rainbows here and there.
As life goes on, we all realize that life can’t always be rainbows. Naturally in the ebb and flow of things, we face adversity, trials, and failures. Now that last one, failures, has always tripped me up like nothing else. Starting gymnastics at the age of three and continuing on with the sport for thirteen years, I now realize just how much I internalized the notion that the chase of absolute perfection is necessary. Is it, though?
I’ve tried to avoid it for so long. I’ve tried to paint it in pretty words and justifications. I’ve refused to voice it into existence even though I knew it would probably be healthier to just say it. I’m a failure. I’ve been running from failure. I’ve been out to escape the one thing that makes us all undeniably human. I’ve demonized what it means to fail. I’ve always chased that one idyllic principle that beckoned me to follow: perfection.
If perfection was heaven, failure automatically became my hell. But I was always destined to fail somewhere along the line. It was always meant to weave seamlessly into my story. That being said, my goal in Lights Out is to unearth a vulnerability and a sensitivity that has been polished away by the confines of my public projection of myself. Hopefully on the other side of this, my creativity will prevail, as well, thriving on the security that my growing perspective is valuable.
So. I’m a failure.
It’s here that I must fully admit that I struggle with perfectionism day in and day out. Call it my former gymnast brain programmed a certain way, or the fact that I’m a classic Virgo, but I just have an itch to make everything I do and say the best it can possibly be. And I suppose that isn’t a bad thing necessarily, but as with all things, it’s best in moderation. However, when I get into a rut, it runs deep. The last few months has been one of those.
This rut has shaken me, especially creatively. Albeit we’re in a pandemic, so I suppose everyone’s lives are jumbled up to a certain degree, but either way I’ve just felt as though I’m painstakingly stagnant. My career moves aren’t going as quickly or as smoothly as I’d like. My planned creative projects have taken a backseat as I work hours upon hours. Specifically, my novel-in-progress, Caspertown, hasn’t seen any time at all from me lately. My fitness goals have fallen by the wayside and gotten lost in the bustle of working overtime and staying afloat. I’ve felt so drained and haven’t gotten on that yoga mat as much as I’d like, or started a consistent fitness routine that I desperately desire to have. I should be spending more time on self care than I am. This past semester at school was probably the roughest of my college career. My ability to be present in a given moment has diminished to nearly nothing, leaving me feeling as though I haven’t been the best loved one to have across the board. My business is in the painstaking beginning stages and amidst all the growing pains…
…I’ve let this blog become so inconsistent that posting this feels foreign to me now. I haven’t kept up with this thing I’m extremely passionate about, and I feel it. It’s a weight on my soul. There’s a lot to unpack here.
There’s just something in me that faltered enough to let everything crash, in a way. But not completely. But sort of. Life has a way of making things very complicated, doesn’t it? I haven’t been myself, but in a way that I’ve been slowly rebuilding myself. Let’s keep in mind, though, that a rebuild requires a bit of demolition. Or a lot.
And yet, here I am.
Social media is all about showing the good angles of our lives, literally and figuratively. We celebrate successes and milestones with the rest of the world on a common stage, be it Instagram or Facebook or Snapchat or Twitter, double tapping our congratulations to others as we scroll along. I think I focus a lot on how other people portray their highlight reels on social media, but not as much on the fact that I do the same thing. And by posting all of the steps toward a fictional perfection online, somehow I try to hide my inevitable failures away in some real-life cavern never to be seen by anyone else.
And that isn’t to say that there haven’t been such beautiful moments mixed into this challenging season of life. There have been such sweet seconds that I’ve been treasuring and holding so close. But the failures are a lot more prominent than the successes right now. They’re like glaring chips in the paint, or scratches on a window. I’m not where I want to be in my life. Perfection doesn’t exist as a reality in my life right now. But did it ever?
These failures don’t define me, but they’re shaping me. With every mistake and wrong turn I take, my path forges a bit differently, and I’m seeing things that I may not have otherwise seen in a way I couldn’t have imagined. My perspective is expanding and I’m able to notice the places where I have a deep desire to grow and improve. The more we idealize living a “perfect” life, the more we villainize failure and all the growth it can bring to us in the end. If we were to always succeed, then there wouldn’t be that fiery desire to keep pushing the envelope.
It wouldn’t exist at all.
I’ve been in my head a lot lately. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s taken me back to a lot of times in my past that most days I’d rather forget. There are many instances among those where I’ve failed tremendously. Taking someone for granted before they were gone. Not going for something one hundred percent. Overreacting when I should have remained calm. I stand by the fact that believe that regret is of the most powerful emotions within the human experience.
Except, I suppose, I’ve started seeing the trying times and the failures differently. I look back and I see…beauty? grace? will? It’s funny how our perspectives can shift so subtly and yet it makes such a drastic change. Like a prism hanging in the window or on the barely-opened front door, one shift creates a new burst of colors we couldn’t have quite expected. I’m now seeing my past in a way that honors how I got to the place where my feet now stand.
So yes, I am a failure in a lot of ways. I’ve failed a whole lot, especially in this season where I haven’t reached the conclusions I’ve wanted to. But it isn’t this ominous sentence that I’ve built it up to be. Failure is synonymous with learning, and in that it can’t be all that bad. It creates bends in our path when we thought we were headed straight up, but if we so choose, we can see the rainbows cast in our footsteps as we create a new way. And between you and me, it’s often better than what we had originally planned.
Everything somehow aligns.
That brings us here. If failure isn’t the end of the world, then problem solved, right? Well, not exactly, because things are rarely that simple. But it’s a step. For me, I’ve discovered that it isn’t always failure itself, but rather the fear of it that catches me in a standstill web. It’s the fear that snakes its way into my vision and puts cracks in the glass. Failure is nothing to be scared of, but fear is its own entity.
Much Love, Quinn
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Crazy cat lady. Exploratory writer. Much love.