We need to fail more

We Need to Fail More

Yesterday I toured a beautiful institute in ‘The Pearl’ district of Portland. The moment I walked in, I felt it. This place gets me. Everyone was buzzing with energy. The artists and their teachers smiled at me as I passed, their faces illuminated from the sunshine pouring in the floor-to-ceiling windows. Three thousand square feet of open space on each floor, filled with possibilities. After just ten minutes of walking the space, I was ready to take that next step. Fill out that application. Start class in late May.

My eagerness was met with a polite ‘no.’ The next class starts at the end of September. I missed the deadline for May. And, like that, I floated back down from their high ceilings until my feet reacquainted themselves with the harsh pavement of reality.

I came to Portland, set on getting certified in skin care in the summer so that I could start working at spas in the fall. The plan came from a vision I had of owning my own adorable spa where I would offer specialized skin treatments and make my own products. The idea still sounds attractive to me. However, I think the parts that appeal most to me are:

1. creating a business that makes others feel better in their own skin

2. having a structure built back into my week

3. having an answer when people ask me what I’m doing in Portland

This is a powerful realization that came from meeting this unexpected pot hole in the road. Navigation is telling me to re-route.

I share this because I think it’s important to share the things that aren’t going ‘right’ in my search for job. If all we’re sharing is our successes, then we’re hiding the steep road to get there. We need to show that failures are the stepping stones to a more empowering life and stronger you. As Brian Johnson says, “we need to fail more,” and we need to be more open in sharing our stories of failure.

I read a post by Barrett Brooks recently, a phenomenal writer and blogger of Living For Monday. What I love so much about his post is how raw and honest he is. He reveals the blemishes of his past, and of who he really is. Being where I am now, his story lets me know I’m not alone, and that feeling of connection is a powerful motivator.

Following in his footsteps, here are four things I probably shouldn’t tell you:

1. I crave structure. I miss it! The way I’ve lived my life up to five months ago was all structure. A nicely laid out path. I went to high school, went to college, got a 9-to-5 job. I went to bed at night exhausted and woke up exhausted, and that was familiar and dependable. I still keep daily routines, but I don’t have that reliable rhythm to fall back on, to blame things on. It’s all on me now, it’s up to me to design this life. And, it’s a big job.

2. I’m scared. Maybe not all the time or even every day. But when I feel it, I FEEL it. I’m afraid that I won’t figure out my calling and find a job before my savings run out. Afraid I’ll jump into another unsatisfying job, underestimating my abilities to do something greater. Afraid I won’t find a group of friends here in Portland to be my REAL self with and share amazing meals, adventures and soul-talks with. I’m scared.

3. I allow myself two to three crazy days per month. You know those days when you just feel sort of off? Maybe it all starts with a fight you’re having with someone. Nothing you say seems to make any sense to them, and then you realize your thoughts don’t even make sense to you. You feel frustrated, alone, tired. Guess what. So do I. It happens.

In yoga terms, some days you’re able to maintain balance, other days you’re falling all over your neighbor’s mat.

The trick is to allow those downfalls to happen. Observe them without judgement. Let them go. Recognizing that some days you just aren’t going to feel like the amazing badass you actually are will save you some worry lines on your forehead later. Think about it, don’t you always come out of those foggy days with a clearer perspective? With perhaps some greater enthusiasm for your life? And if nothing else, with the same friends and family to laugh about your hot-messness with later?

4. I want to impress you with a success story. I started this blog to hold myself accountable to living a more fulfilling life. I had read plenty of blogs by people who already figured out how to wildly succeed in following their bliss, and have trophies to show for it. What I wanted was a real-time look at the phase before the success. I wanted to share the journey of uncertainty as I experience it. To expose that time in your life where you’ve quit your job but you aren’t sure what will unfold next. My hope is that I will inspire others to make big moves in their own lives. It’s the best feeling in the world when someone reaches out to tell me I’ve already done that for them.

This journey has its ups and downs, and sometimes I get impatient. I fantasize about becoming famous. Getting a book deal, starring in a documentary. The more I hope things get better later, the less I show up for my life as it is now.

A couple days ago, I decided to send a Facebook message to a friend I hadn’t seen since college to see if she wanted to grab coffee. Instead of coffee, she asked me to join her pre-natal exercise class. Considering I’m not pregnant and knew nothing about the class, I easily could have skipped it. But I wanted to see her and was curious, so I went. Not only did I reconnect with this amazing person, I discovered a form of exercise that combines several of my passions into one.

At the end of class, we sat in the studio and caught up with one another for a while. “I was excited for you to take this class, because it seems so in-line with the core values of your blog,” I was flattered to hear she’d been reading my posts.

She continued. “Would you want to become a teacher? I could train you.”

Without any hesitation, I said yes. I didn’t need to think about it. I called my mom, and she said it was the most excited I’ve sounded about anything job-focused, including skin care.

Alas… I take a deep breath. Sit in my discomfort. Practice patience. Believe that where I am right now is exactly where I should be.

With courage, love and intensity,


Photo credit: Hammonton Photography / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

5 thoughts on “We need to fail more

  1. Holy crap, Kristen, I got emotional in the coffee shop reading this. God, you’re so amazing. Thanks for sharing all of this and CONGRATS on the new role. You continue to inspire me and ALWAYS say exactly what’s been ailing me and on my mind. BTW, I’m going to be in Portland for WDS. Can we coordinate?



    • Seeing you in Portland would be a dream come true! Yes, let’s totally coordinate. I should have a place for you to crash, too, if you want to stay with me. Thanks for being an amazing cheerleader, and inspiration all on your own. Love you, Rooms!

  2. Pingback: Swimming Alone | Manresa, Maine

  3. I loved this post. I totally get what you’re going through. Those crazy days you talk about, I call those my “WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE!?” days. Number 4 is probably simultaneously frustrating and encouraging since you’re on that path to change and true happiness, but you have come in contact with people (Bold mentors) who already have their shit figured out and are truly happy. I try to remind myself that folks like Amber Rae or Colin Wright at one time didn’t have their lives together and that’s pretty reassuring.

    • Definitely. It’s also nice to follow up the WHAT AM I DOING days with relaxing, yet productive days. I woke up a bit earlier than usual, set time aside to meditate and take a long walk with the dogs, and made it my goal to avoid the internet and just work on one task: paint. It really helped me mellow out, and a lot of great productive ideas came up for me while I painted. Ah, the power of letting go and trusting everything will work out.

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