Written on my arm are the words “Fail again, fall better”. I took the words from a Samuel Beckett quote. “Oh you failed? Good. Fall again, and next time, fall better.” I changed them because I didn’t want an old, dead white man’s words to dictate my actions. I wanted to be the master of my own fault and failings and I am.
Over the past few years, since my graduation from college and finishing up of an internship that was traumatic in more ways than one, I’ve been steadily pushing myself into a career that I knew full well, I didn’t want. But this is comfort, this is what I know, so why not do it…right?
My main question to myself became “Why?”
Why do I self sabotage?
Why do I not care for my needs & wants better?
Why do I allow the trauma of existing in this world to affect my entire core?
How can I not?
What’s that about?
I think that so often, I hear folx talk about the trauma of existing in a womxn bodied, black/brown, queer identity. Not often does this view include a human lens in the realest of ways. In the moment of trauma reaction, how do we move through?
How does my trauma affect my reaction time?
How does my trauma affect the way in which I care for myself post failure?
Do I have time to care for myself at all?
Have you ever felt obligated to something? I did. I kept at something because I felt like I should. Call it conditioning if you will. I thought and in many ways, still think that because I had already been doing this thing for a while that changing would be too hard. So I kept at it, each moment killing me more inside until finally one day, something slapped me and said “YOU HATE THIS”. So I had to figure out from that harsh reality, how do I stop? I was raised with examples of strong brown womxn who do it all and never ask for help and I’m just like them, but I feel it killing me. I feel my body die from the pressure daily. Maybe that’s why I do so much self care and so much body work trying to heal the generational trauma.
I remember as a little girl I heard my mom talking with my auntie, two wise womxn sitting in the florida room on a sunny and warm summer day. They were talking about how my sibling and I moved through the world. As they finished talking about my brother and I tried hard to stay hidden and out of “grown folk conversation”, I heard my mom say, “Her problem will be that she’s an artist.” and I never understood what that really meant until the other day. Working conventional jobs doesn’t work for me. It never has. I’m an artist and my innate instinct is to go against all that society offers as viable “work”. I’m learning to adapt always against my instinct to do nothing but create and discover ways to explain the world. I say this not as a pitying moment but for context to my narrative of failure in the “working world.”
I’m a perfectionist, and I have been for pretty much all of my life. I beat myself up for not being perfect way more than anyone else ever would or could do. But I also have this unbelievable ability to turn that hurt, pain, and whatever else into art. My whole existence is art. I take whatever it is and turn it into something. Nothing goes to waste. I use every part of it. I’ve always had this ability to discover my resource, which is super helpful after a big failure. The grace with which we move on is what struck me today. I will work many more jobs that I don’t want to because I live in a world of capitalism and I have to eat, sleep, pay bills, etc. As a self proclaimed revolutionary, I must put so much thought into just HOW I take care of myself in this twisted system. Isn’t that the greatest revolution of all?
What is the lesson in failure. My mother used to always say “If you learned from it, it wasn’t wasted.” So how do I learn? How do you learn? How do we collectively learn and grow together?
Right now, moving forward, I’m learning that I have to build myself back up and be gentle as I do that. This year, from September until now, I’ve gone through more than a few jobs and with each one, my debt became deeper and my need to learn became sharper. I want to be in school, but just for what, I haven’t yet figured out completely. That’s okay. I have time. You have time. We all can breathe and take the time.
It seems that manifesting should become my best friend. I’ve known that I’m descended from medicine people of both African and Native American descent my whole life with most of my families healing work happening without explanation, it’s just ordinary. It’s just landing on me now in my mid-20’s that communicating with and honoring the ancestors is the work that I must consciously put forth if I’m truly going to delve where my blood calls me daily, where the everyday ordinary separates from established tradition.
So I failed. Excellent. As I pick myself back up and clear away the emotional debris, I’m reminded that I need to and inevitably will fail again and next time, I should fall better.