The thing about failure is…
In her famous Ted Talk on being wrong Kathryn Schulz used the metaphor of the roadrunner. Chased by the coyote, he runs off a cliff and keeps on running on air until the moment he realizes he is not on solid ground. At this point he finds himself too far gone, too far from the edge to turn around and has no other choice but to fall. It’s when he realized he was wrong, despite being convinced he was right, that the roadrunner fell.
For months I have analyzed my pursuing a PhD with the intention of working in academia. How is it going, how is it not going, the various contradictory feelings and thoughts swirling in my head, all fueled by one single question “Did I set myself up for failure”
I have one nagging thought: how will anyone ever grant a PhD to someone who has to google “how to spell kayotee.”
I entered a PhD program in Counseling 3 years ago with the intention to teach at a university level. At the time, I stopped writing on this blog, stopped running, stopped eating well, sleeping and basically stopped having a semi-normal human existence.
Was I a failure?
Three years in a PhD program, looking forward to one more year before graduation, I have come to a conclusion. I failed many times. But I am not a failure. I underestimated the timeline, the fierceness of competition, the jealousy, the inequality, the meaningless, petty drama, even. I have yet to process all of that but I am more interested in learning something wise from it. Like…
“Patience is a virtue.”
“Our success depends upon the success of others.”
“Rejoicing in other’s good qualities makes our mind peaceful.”
“Comparison is the killer of joy.”
‘The law of karma says no action is wasted.”
Wisdom is more valuable than education.
I was wrong about the physical, emotional, financial and relational effects such an endeavor would have on a single woman in her 30’s with no outside support and no family to turn to. Not to mention, there is never enough coffee!
On a side note, I found a Greek cafe in walking distance from my house that makes excellent Turkish coffee. Of course, they call it Greek coffee and I have to remember to order it that way, but let’s face it. It is definitely Turkish, through and through.
It is difficult to look at all the things I have been wrong about and not conclude that I have failed. Jay Shetty said “failure is just a sign that we need to widen our scope.”
It’s not about success or failure.
There is no goal, only experiences that prepare us for our life purpose.
So why get so attached to our own choice, view, personality, talents, identities, opinions, goals, dreams, plans and those of others? We could be wrong. There is no need to grasp at any man-made reality. We can’t always see the intricacies of luck, chance, intention, causes, conditions, consequences, opportunity, timing, and so on.
Failure does not exist. Only trying to be the best you can be.
The key to happiness is letting go and opening ourselves up to whatever comes next, embracing everything fully, no matter what. Everything that appears, positive or negative, can be an opportunity to become a better person. Becoming the best you can be is enough