Last night someone else’s success made me feel like a failure.
I was scrolling through a private blogging group on Facebook.
A woman who started an online course the same time I did posted that she had reached an impressive income goal in one year.
It was a great accomplishment, and I was impressed… and upset.
Why I felt like a failure in blogging
I wasn’t jealous, because I’m sure the woman worked hard to achieve her goal.
It’s a goal I hope to accomplish someday.
Rather, it triggered my own feelings of unworthiness about success and failure, and that is a dangerous thing.
It also brought up a tendency to compare myself to others without the entire story, something I think many of us do regularly.
What’s wrong with me?
The self-judgment came fast and furious.
What is wrong with me that she can do that, and I can’t?
Why am I failing at blogging while she’s a success?
Why is she making a full-time income and I’m not?
What is wrong with me that her success makes me feel like a failure?
No one else has ever said any of this to me.
These are my judgments of myself, and they’re ugly.
Judging makes you forget and not in a good way
I forgot about the great blogging success I had earlier in the day.
I forgot about the joy I felt.
The thrill evaporated when I saw someone more successful than I was financially, and I felt like a failure, and in that moment, I was.
I was a failure because I believed I was.
It took a few moments, but I realized what happened.
I started comparing.
Depending on your personality, judging will make you angry, depressed, sad, fearful or some combination of both.
In any case, it’s not pretty.
Comparison skews perspective
When we compare our journey with someone else’s, especially on social media, we lose perspective.
While this woman is successful in her blog, I have no idea if she fails in any other aspect of her life.
Does she have a successful marriage and family life?
Does she feel like a failure at housekeeping?
Maybe yes. Maybe no.
It doesn’t matter because her success or failure is her journey and has nothing to do with mine.
For a long time, I wanted to help other people live their best life.
I used to wonder why others were more successful than me.
Then I researched their lives.
The women I admired most were single or married without children.
If they had children, their spouse stayed at home, or they ended up with marital issues.
The men were single or had a wife to do all the things I did every day.
DUH! How’s that for perspective?
From Desperation to Inspiration
So, I decided to play a game with myself using the principles I teach in Change Your Words, Change Your Life.
I decided to let that woman’s success inspire me to get out of the dumps and get back to work.
I decided if she could be that successful in one year, maybe I can do the same in the next.
Regardless of the outcome, focusing on my journey toward success rather than wallowing in failure felt much better.
That thought led to the inspiration for this blog post.
So here I am actually encouraging people to live their best life.
How feeling like a failure poisons our life
While this happened to me with blogging, it also happens in the parenting world all the time.
Everyone talks about the age their babies roll over, talk, walk and cut their first tooth.
When you talk to some parents, it feels like a constant competition, and if your child doesn’t measure up, you can definitely feel like a failure.
Middle school and high school parents discuss prowess at sports, creativity, school and even volunteering.
They tout test scores, scholarships and elite school admissions.
When we see those children excelling, and our children succeed at a different level, we question our parenting skills.
We wonder if our child needs individual coaching, tutoring and classes so they aren’t left behind.
It makes us crazy, and it needs to stop.
With the birth of our third child, I learned a huge lesson.
Success is different for everyone.
Some kids succeed no matter what. Some need extra help.
Several take longer to reach milestones. Some never reach them at all.
Some kids are ambitious. Others go with the flow.
I have one child who was driven from birth, one who found his ambition in college and one still figuring life out in college.
Each took a different path, but the future looks bright for each one in a different way.
Each experiences success and failure in different arenas, in different ways, but they’re all headed in the right direction.
That’s what matters most in my current definition of parental success.
Then there are children with complicated needs, like my cousin’s granddaughter who just got a medical halo at age three.
Just walking down the hallway is a triumph for her.
Her halo is too heavy for her to support so she has a specially made walker to go up and down the halls, and she does it with a smile and a laugh.
How amazing is that?
You can learn more about that procedure by clicking here.
Successful in all circumstances
Good parents come in all sizes.
Some good parents stay home because that’s what they feel they need to have a successful family.
Many families have two incomes because they need that for success.
Some have one working parent because there is only one parent in the family and without that income, the family would fail for sure.
If we don’t know the circumstances, we may look at other families and feel like a failure when to someone else, we look like an amazing success.
This is exactly the reason I wrote Everyday Heroes of Motherhood because success as a mom comes in so many forms, and they all deserve celebrating.
While I wrote about motherhood, it also applies families, individuals, children, and more.
From feeling like a failure to flourishing
You know what? Everyone feels like a failure occasionally.
Everyone fails at something.
The important thing is knowing that failing and failure are different.
I know from a failed marriage how to create one that flourishes.
I didn’t fail as a wife.
Rather, I had the wrong husband for me.
I failed at parenting more than I care to admit, but I wasn’t a failure because I see each of my children succeeding in his own way and at his own pace.
One of my favorite parenting memories is seeing the look on my son’s face when he told me if I worried about him as much in college as I did while he was in high school, we would both be miserable.
After a good laugh, I assured him I wouldn’t because it was my job to empower him with the skills to navigate adulthood and life.
The day he moved to college, the responsibility for his success switched completely to him.
It was a life lesson he learned well.
Back to the blogging
As I learn more about blogging, I fail again and again.
I realize as much as I want to whine and complain, life and business are about moving beyond feeling like a failure.
They’re about becoming better in every way.
They’re about celebrating others’ success because a rising tide raises all ships.
Yes, that sounds cheesy, but it’s the truth.
My feeling like a failure takes nothing from her success, but it might take a lot from mine.
So what do I do when I feel like a failure in blogging?
I quit on a regular basis, but I never quit for good.
Instead, I take some time off, whether it’s a few hours, an afternoon, a day or two or even a week.
After a cooling off period, I always feel better and have better perspective.
Then I dive back in with fresh energy and focus on my journey again.
What to do next
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As always, thanks for being you and have a great day.