I know the ‘normalise’ tweets have become annoying… every other sentiment on the timeline is ‘normalise texting back straight away’ sometimes immediately followed by someone else saying ‘normalise not replying for days’. The worst ones are the ones suggesting we normalise already normalised things (not answering the call to an unknown number is very commonplace). But I’ve got one of my own: what if we normalise sharing ordinary or underwhelming stuff online too sometimes. Share our failure as well as success?
Hear me out. I know that if you overcame a significant life event, beat the odds, or worked really really hard (or, y’know manifested the shit out of your goal, whatever you’re into), then you want to show off your achievement. Everyone deserves to feel proud, and it can be inspiring for others. On the flip side of that inspirational coin though is another effect; in a sea of highly motivated achievers and success stories it can be easy to feel like everyone else is winning except you.
So I’m not suggesting don’t share the success stories. God knows we need some wholesome content; I love a dog with prosthetic legs, anyone ringing the bell at Clatterbridge to mark the end of treatment, people graduating after overcoming adversity.
But in this day and age could we maybe do with some balance to give us a sense of reality? Just a little reminder that it’s okay if things aren’t amazing all of the time and that actually, that’s more of a reflection of everyone’s lives. Not only that; but that our disappointments don’t have to be a precursor to an amazing turnaround. When we share our failure it doesn’t have to be an event that in turn paved the way for future success. It could just be an event in itself.
So I’ll go first:
- I left a degree course just before the end and didn’t graduate. I didn’t go on to better things. I didn’t do a Kanye. I didn’t go back and finish it. I just left and that was that;
- I got KB’d for every job I applied for in 2009. I didn’t go on to start my own successful company, or end up in the career of my dreams. I just stayed in a shit job for four more years instead;
- When I was 20 I took up Tae Kwon Do. I tried it and I wasn’t very good at it and didn’t much enjoy it so I quit. I didn’t go on to find a sport I loved. I just gave it up;
- My school qualifications were underwhelming. I probably could have done better if I had turned up to school more and done some actual work. It doesn’t mean that I was destined for a brighter future or started my own empire against the odds like turbo show off Al*n Sug*r. It just means I’m a bit lazy and it probably narrowed my job seeking options down too;
- There was a period in my life between jobs and benefits, where I had very little indeed. At one point I had a choice between spending what money I had left on electric or food. I had to go to bed as soon as it got dark because I chose food. This wasn’t part of some rags to riches story. It was just a really bad time that fortunately didn’t last long;
- That reminds me: Sometimes when I have spare time, I enter writing competitions. I’ve never won one or been a runner up. I am not the next JK Rowling;
- Once I wrote a screen play treatment for a well known television company competition. It didn’t win but they sent it back asking for revisions and re submission. I didn’t do it.
They’re just some examples. There’s probably more that are even more mundane and not worth listing. We all have these stories. Well, unless we are some kind of superhuman robots afraid of failure. But we never see them mentioned unless it’s as part of a story with a successful ending.
In this world of social media where everyone around us seems to be smashing life it’s important to remember that for most of us, failure with no success story at the end is the norm. So maybe, sometimes, we could share our failure as well as our success.