I wasn't sure what I wanted to share this week. But after a brief conversation with an old friend, I knew I had to write about not only what to remember when life generally just sh*ts all over you, but also about how understanding that the failures in your life can be hard but necessary lessons to learn.And how they can often make you stronger... You've just got to get through the damn things in the first place which is never, ever easy.
The brief conversation I had with Chris (not their real name, and who shall remain genderless) is something I just haven't been able to stop thinking about all week - it really, really upset me when I heard what they'd been going through. Although we haven't seen other for years, we have known each other for over 25 years and keep in touch sporadically.
Basically I messaged Chris this week for a particular reason (not relevant to the topic in hand). As you do, I asked the How are you, hope life's treating you well question, only to find out that Chris has basically been having the sh*ttiest time of late. It seems that everything that could be going wrong in someone's life has been going wrong for Chris: Job, money, health, relationship, you name it. And they sounded incredibly unhappy, something I've never, ever known them to be.
Finding that out from someone you've known for so long makes you feel so helpless. It makes you think you've not been a good friend and wonder why you didn't know this already. But as I'm sure many of you find, it's hard to keep up with all your friends all of the time. Life just gets in the way of that text or that Facebook message which takes just 10 seconds to write (or even better, that phone call)... A lame excuse, but one I'm sure you're all familiar with.
Anyway - the only consolation I could give in our brief conversation (as so often happens you can never catch them at a time when they've nothing to do except sit around and reply to messages - who has that sort of time anyway?) was that things do, and CAN change. I doubt that there isn't one person reading this who hasn't gone through a severely sh*tty time in their life, and some more than others - to the extent that we wonder how they ever got through it.
The failures in my lifeI know people like that in life: Those who've gone through the absolute worst that life could throw at them, but that came out the other side happy, successful, even just smiling. Unfortunately I've also known those that couldn't - and very sadly didn't - get through it. Whilst I personally haven't ever experienced anything truly, truly awful (to the point where life just doesn't seem worth living), I wanted to share with you some of the things that have happened in my life that are considered failures. Things like...
- A failed first marriage. The wedding preparations pretty much lasted longer than the marriage itself.
- Getting into debt in my 20s. Not as much as some, but enough to have to go back home to live with my parents for a couple of years after the marriage ended in order to be able to pay the debt off.
- Taking the wrong job. I did this a few times - took a job only to find out it was worse than the one I was leaving it for.
- Not getting my dream job. My absolute dream job came along when I was about 28 and I didn't get it. I think I was down to the last two and I was absolutely devastated when it went to the other candidate.
- Setting up a small business that went nowhere. Lesson learned - do your homework, have a business plan, make sure it's something that people will continue to want, etc. etc. I didn't do any of those things.
- Getting bad management. Some of you may have read about my financial crisis last summer - mostly due to management that failed to pay me the money I earned from blog campaigns, then disappeared off the face of the planet.
- Working for a company that went bust, owing me thousands. I continued to work (freelance) for a company that said they'd pay me next month. Next month came, and they said they'd pay me the next month again. Which went on and on until they just went into liquidation - I could have stopped working for them right at the start until they paid me, but instead I just blindly carried on.
The point of talking about all these "failures" is that now, with hindsight, I can look back and see that without all these things happening to me I wouldn't be the person I am today. Whilst there are lots of things I want to change and "would if I could", I know that these things have, for the most part, made me a better person.
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I would never, of course, wish anything really bad on anyone simply in order to have them learn some life lessons. But as you all know we learn by our mistakes, and the failures (and how we handle them) make us appreciate the truly good things in life.
How all those things made me a better personWant to know how I learned from all those failures in my life?
- Without that first marriage I wouldn't have met my second (current!) husband, Mr. Summers (for various reasons, but see point 4).
- Without getting into so much debt I wouldn't be the finance-savvy, expert money-saving person I am today - I can sniff a discount code a mile away and juggle money like there's no tomorrow.
- Without all those wrong jobs I wouldn't have ended up blogging for a living, especially the one that bored me so much I started writing the blog in the first place.
- If I'd got that dream job I wouldn't have met Mr. Summers, as the next job I went to instead was where he worked and we met. See point 1.
- Without setting up that small business I wouldn't have had a reasonable understanding of doing a tax return or been afraid to keep proper records now that I'm a professional blogger. I can do my tax return in 45 minutes flat, I'm that organised.
- Without getting bad management I wouldn't have been put in touch with the person who acts as my agent now - and who does an incredible job of negotiating on my behalf, as well as someone I now consider a good friend. I also know how to take someone to court and wouldn't be afraid to do it again.
- Without working for that company that went bust I wouldn't know what it's like to be fobbed off about payment and wouldn't recognise the signs of a company getting into trouble. I take companies owing me money very, very seriously now and take no prisoners - I've been burned too many times.
So there you have it - all the failures in my life have ultimately resulted in good things happening. Therefore (and this is the key thing to remember) THEY ARE NOT ACTUALLY FAILURES AT ALL. Sure, if I could wave a magic wand I wouldn't want to go through them again, but some (like the first failed marriage ultimately leading to my second) are no-brainers... I'd go through them a hundred times if I knew what they'd lead to eventually.
So my friend Chris won't be reading this I'm sure, but rest assured they are in my thoughts and I hope to god that my words (albeit a quick message about knowing a little about what they'd gone through and how I'm always available to talk to) had some impact. I really hope they hang on in there and that good things come their way.
Silver linings? Yeah, I believe in those. They just don't come along without said cloud coming along and dumping their sh*t all over you first.
DO YOU HAVE ANY SIMILAR "CLOUDS WITH SILVER LININGS" STORIES? DO SHARE IN THE COMMENTS OR TWEET ME @NOTLAMB...
(Whilst I'm no expert on depression, if you're having the sh*ttiest time in life then please, please, please reach out to someone. Whether it be a close friend, a relative or a professional, please just reach out and ask for help. Things can - and will - get better, I promise you... Just please don't try and get through it alone. There will always be someone who can help you.)
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