Friday, 9 April 2010

Embrace Your Failures

by Kate
Living The Frugal Life

I think a lot of us who are part of the new simplicity movement are hard on ourselves sometimes.  We have high standards, we want to do it all, and we want it done yesterday, looking perfect.  I don't know anyone who's actually managed that though.  Certainly not me.  But I know that sometimes even the blogging I do contributes to other people feeling like they have to do it all, and do it perfectly.  It happens to me too when I read other bloggers.  I think it's because we're generally an upbeat crowd, and we focus on the positive, so that's what we end up blogging about.  It's not that we want to boast or pretend that failures don't happen.  There's just a tendency to want to share what we've managed to do well.

So today I want to talk about failures, imperfections, mistakes, bad decisions, falling short of goals and generally sucking at some things.

The few times I've attempted it, my jellies and jams have failed to gel properly.  My garden, while productive, has always looked like hell by June.  I chose bad garden lay-outs not one or two years in a row, but three years in a row.  I still buy toxic deodorant that will probably give me cancer, packaged up in plastic.  I never complete the list of goals I set for myself each year.  We indulge in take-out pizza, disappointing as it invariably is, once in a while.  I'm neither methodical nor patient enough to ever be any good at sewing.  My cleanliness standards for most rooms of the house are lower than you would imagine.  I've pushed myself and my husband too hard at times to make changes faster than I should have.  I order vegetable seeds each winter and when they fail to germinate, or when I fail to even try to get them started, I go to a nursery and buy seedlings.  I procrastinate and avoid a lot.  I'm a bad correspondent.  I hate doing dishes and rely on the dishwasher far too much.  I start knitting projects and rarely finish them.  I'm not very good at conserving water, and I rationalize this with the fact that I live in an area with plentiful rainfall.  I don't really want my cats catching birds, but I don't put bells on them because I do want them to catch mice and voles. Most of the time, I want to quit when I'm three-quarters of the way through any given project.

There!  That was liberating.  More than that, it feels important to acknowledge my own shortcomings.  In doing so, I'm not beating on myself or setting myself up for even higher expectations going forward.  It just feels right to admit that as much as I want to do things well, and succeed, and live my life according to my own highest standards, life isn't perfect.  My list of failures is almost certainly very average.  It reminds me that just as I would try to encourage someone else who struggled and but fell short, I should also be tolerant of my own failures.  I think we're often harder on ourselves than we would ever dream of being on another person.  I know my intentions are good.  I know that I'm genuinely trying to make a positive change in the world.  If I knew someone else were doing the same, I'd certainly sympathize and encourage when they bemoaned their own imperfections.  Recognizing that makes it easier to extend the same compassion to myself.

So please, share your failures.  And recognize your generosity, your compassion, your charity with others around you who share theirs.  Then give yourself a little dose of that understanding too.