The F word
Yesterday I had to talk to my three girls about the
They’ve never heard me say it, yet they’ve suddenly started using it regularly. And of course, for those of you who know me well, I’m not talking about the word Fuck, because my children have obviously heard me use that 😅
I mean the word Failure.
I was telling my eldest about my recent writing rejection and my youngest hadn’t heard, and so her sister promptly said, “Oh mum got a BIG FAT F for FAIL” (There are too many bad F words in that sentence my head started spinning, but I focussed on the last one.)
“I didn’t fail,” I told her, genuinely surprised. “I just haven’t succeeded yet.”
(Writers are subjected to the rejection ratio more than most, and so I see a rejection as validation I’m at least in the game. No rejections means no chance of reward.)
“JK Rowling’s Harry Potter got rejected 15 times, Chicken Soup for the Soul 144 times, and Donal Ryan’s Spinning Heart was rejected by 47 publishers before being accepted by the 48th and went on to be long-listed for the Man Booker Prize, so shove that in your Fail Theory box!”
I hear this word so much too from many of the women I coach. The end of a relationship is a ‘failure’. Feeling overwhelmed is a ‘failure’. Not being perfect is a ‘failure’. Nowadays even ageing can feel like a fucking ‘failure’
Is a relationship a ‘failure’ if you loved and were loved but one or both of you no longer does? It hurts of course, but a failure? How about FREEDOM to try again, this time with someone you love more, or who loves you more? I tell my girls my marriage to their dad was not a failure because we are now divorcing, because although there is pain and loss, there is ultimately growth and development where both of us are happier.
Are we ‘failures’ because we feel overwhelmed with all the shit that comes our way? Or are we are a point were we need to say ‘FUCK THIS’ to some of the tasks, people and thoughts that drain our energy and FOCUS, FREEWHEEL and FAVOUR those that give us energy?
Are we ‘failures’ because we aren’t perfect at being brilliant at everything and still look great with 3 hours sleep? Or are we FED UP with a cultural myth and Instagrammed pressure and need to FORGIVE ourselves for being merely human and recognise instead we are FABULOUS just the way we are, thank you very much?
Are we ‘failures’ because we dare to naturally do what our bodies (and biology!!) intend us do, or should we re-deFINE what success and growing and developing looks like, celebrating the FANTASTIC-NESS of being a glorious work in progress?
Failure so often sits with that other awful F word – Fear. The fear of shame, embarrassment, not being good enough. But as I think Will Smith said when he told the story of trying to step out of his comfort zone by doing a parachute jump and being so terrified every step of the way until he fell (or was quite possibly pushed) out the place, when he suddenly felt most incredible feeling; : The best things in life are on the other side of fear.”
Let’s not fear failure. Because then we are never in the game. So even though it’s not Friday, here are a few of my other favourite F words – femininity, ferociousness, fuckability, fantasy, friendship, feminism, forgiveness (of ourselves), flair, flying, family, flavours, flesh, flowers, fun and frisky. Any favourite F words?