I don’t doubt for a second that women are harder on ourselves than men. We’ll stare at our thighs and let out a stream of curse words that would make Joe Pesci say, “Whoa, chill out.” We’d stay stuff to ourselves guys would never even dream of saying to us. When men fail, they tend not to take it as personally as we do.
Let’s change that.
As someone going through what we call a “transitional period” (read: “I feel like a total fuck-up” period), I have some tips how how to not feel like a total failure, even though you may really, really want to.
So, you gained some weight.
This one sucks because no one can tell you “oh it’s all on your head” if the dress that fit you 2 years ago now seems like it was made for a doll. “WHO IS PUTTING DOLL CLOTHES IN MY CLOSET?” you want to scream. If it doesn’t zip, it doesn’t fit, and that’s just how it is. Firstly, as with all “failures” don’t feel bad about feeling bad — you’re allowed to take a moment to wallow even if it’s over not being able to fit into a skirt that’s honestly kind of ugly to begin with. So take your moment to feel bad.
NOW you have to change your current thoughts, feelings, and behaviors so that you set yourself up for a better future. That goes with any “failure.” You wallow, then you pull yourself together. Make a plan to exercise every day or every other day — or just start with once a week. Just plan it. Then do it. Then for every day you work out, put a sticker in your planner or write a big fat X. Then watch your progress grow into a sea of stickers or X’s. Go out and buy healthy foods. Start cooking for yourself at least once a week. Just start.
Sometimes, even if our clothes don’t fit, the weight gain is only visible to us. No one else can tell. We are really our own harshest critics and only we know how our clothes really fit. They might feel tighter but people don’t have X-Ray vision — they can’t tell the way you can.
And maybe it’s enough for people to notice. Okay, so what? It’s not like you drowned a bag of kittens. You decided to eat indulgently and not work out. That’s actually not a crime. That’s actually totally okay. But if you’re unhappy with it, change it. Don’t whine about it and then not change it. That’s the worst.
So, you lost your job.
This one sucks because losing your job can mean huge life changes, like having to move. Some of us are okay with big changes. Some of us resist it and hate it with everything we’ve got, like a cat in a costume.
In most cases, your job loss was not personal. It’s not like you were let go because no one liked you. And let’s say you got fired because in fact, it waspersonal. Guess what? That was a terrible work environment and you’re going to be a better person for not being there. The only way to handle a job loss is to spin it until you find the bright side. For example, now you can focus on what you really want to do. Maybe it’s time to make big career changes. Maybe now you can follow your dream. But really, do more than follow it — hunt that motherfucker down. Turn this loss into a gain.
And maybe you’re going to have to make sacrifices, like selling a major item, moving, or taking on a crappy part-time job until you find something. And it’s okay to be upset by that. But you can’t be upset about it every day for the rest of your life. You just can’t. You can, but you’ll have no friends left and you’ll be completely miserable. Is that something you actively want to choose?
You’re not a failure because you lost your job. Lots of people lose jobs. You’re only a failure if you let it define you as a person. You are not your job.
So, you got dumped.
This one sucks because it is personal. It’s the most personal thing in the world. Even if someone says, “It’s not you, it’s me” they’re still talking about you. How can you not feel hurt?
Once again, take time to mourn the loss of the relationship. Cry, shout, do what you have to do to keep yourself from holding onto any anger or sadness inside. Don’t keep it all inside. It will explode later at the company picnic when Deborah takes the last corn on the cob. That bitch. Let it out now.
Then start to heal. Think about what you learned from the relationship. We always learn something. Maybe it’s as simple as, “I’ll never date guys under 24 again.” Fine. Go with that. Just take something, anything and learn from it. Grow from it. Don’t let it make you bitter. If you let it make you bitter, you’re turning your future self into an asshole. No one likes the asshole who is caustic about relationships and uses every opportunity to bash their ex. Write about it. Make funny videos. Turn it into something positive. Even if it’s just a funny tweet. That one tweet is something good and positive, and that’s exactly what you need.
You’re only a total failure if you allow yourself to stop growing. And how do you grow? By learning from mistakes, facing change, and doing things that scare you. (At least, those are some ways.) Accept your loss, mourn it, then move on. Because you owe it to your future self. You owe your future self success, even if present self feels nothing but failure. Ignore present self. Think about future self. What do you want to do for her?