What I Discovered When I Learned To Love My Failure

I awoke and realized exactly what I’d done.

Just. Plain. Forgot.

It should have been Day 77 on my quest to do yoga 100 days in a row. The day before was crazy, hectic and unorganized. I was a beat behind, a step away from everything — my work duties, my personal obligations and my spiritual upkeep. My head hit the pillow and the next morning I realized I’d failed. I’d missed Day 76 of yoga.

All that work down the drain. My fault. I sat on the edge of my bed and looked at the white board in my room with 75 hash marks on it.

I had a choice — pick up the eraser and admit defeat, or grab my hoodie and hit the mat. I took a deep breath and remembered all the times failure knocked.

I failed my first driver’s test. My first job interview went horribly. My college newspaper editor sent back the first column I ever wrote, simply saying, ‘Relax and try again.’”

And so I did. In all those cases, I tried again. And it was after faltering that I realized I had nothing to lose. The fear of reaching out, the fear of how others see me, the fear of whether I was good enough all disappeared.

So, on Day 77, I forgave myself. I accepted that I hadn’t done what I set out to do. I pulled on my hoodie, grabbed my mat and went anyway. At the time, I didn’t really know why.

A few weeks later, one of my yoga teachers started to give us a talk on “peace.” I hid my rolling eyes — one of the things I don’t like about yoga is all of touchy-feely things that go along with it.

To my surprise, she turned up the music real loud and started yelling at us. Peace, she said, does not mean there isn’t stress, or worries, or suffering. Peace is finding an inner calm in the midst all of that.

As she guided us through one of the most strenuous classes I’ve had — sweat pouring down my face — we were told to find stability in precarious places. To find a signal through the noise. A steady sail through rough seas.

It reminded me of all the times I never tried. The things I never started because I was afraid of failing, afraid of the storm and afraid of realizing I didn’t have an inner calm to rescue me.

But that’s where the growth is, I realized. It’s in the places where the wind blows the hardest, where the rain doesn’t stop and the mountain keeps getting steeper.

I saw that when you view failure as an opportunity to learn, you rob it of the power to keep you stagnant, stuck in a place of chaos and noise. It was a powerful realization for me. Had I given up on day 76 — when technically I failed — I wouldn’t have been at that particular class.

The main point of my doing 100 days of yoga (which I did finish in 101 days) hadn’t been to succeed but to put myself in a place where I could fail and then learn from it.

Every day in yoga I had failed. I’d fallen on my face, thrown my back out, gave up on a pose early over and over. There were moments when I’d failed to grow because I was hesitant or tired or grouchy. I’d become distracted, self-conscious, eager, egotistical and cocky.

And each time I told myself to relax and try again.

And so I did.

And so I learned.

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