The Story of a Failure

Back when I was in fourth grade we lived within walking distance to my grandparent’s house. Every time I would see one of my uncles or aunts arrive for a visit I would race there in excitement.

I loved visiting with my relatives. One of those visits is indelibly imprinted on my brain. I can’t recall the exact details; I believe I was in school when they initially arrived. I just recall hearing part of an ongoing conversation as I hopped on the porch to knock on the door.

My grandmother was discussing my parents with my aunt. I paused, hand raised. I didn’t want to interrupt them. Being a nosey child I wanted to hear what they had to say so instead of announcing myself I stepped back and listened.

My parents were described as drunks; failures that could no longer support themselves. It didn’t matter that my dad had been in an accident that caused him to lose his leg; they were drunken failures nonetheless.

According to my aunt it was a shame that my parents had created me. I was a waste of humanity because, due to my environment, I would never amount to anything.

I took those words to heart but not in the way that she expected. Deep down I told myself that she was wrong. I would amount to something. I didn’t know what but I would figure it out.

But she was right. I am a failure.

I barely scraped through high school. I ended up pregnant at 19.

I failed college twice. I failed, not only in my selection of a life-mate, but in my attempts to keep the marriage going. I failed my first attempts at being a writer.

I even failed my attempt at suicide.

I failed the Army. I failed my first attempts at starting a business. I failed to sell Avon. I failed to sell Tupperware. I failed to sell phone service. I even failed with Amway.

Failure after failure piled up behind me. My husband would laugh and tell me that I would never survive without him because I was unable to accomplish a single thing. I was lucky that he had rescued me, had saved the local slut after she’d F***ed up and gotten herself pregnant.

I would never amount to anything.

After each successive failure I would have a good cry, dust myself off, and try again.

I became a successful dog breeder after being given two registered animals in a WalMart parking lot. I used the money to purchase a mobile home with the eventual goal of escaping my husband. It took years to work up my nerve and arrange things but I did it. After years of misery I achieved a divorce.

I graduated computer repair school and started my first successful business. I’ll never forget the shock I felt when I earned $1,000 profit my very first month.

I succeeded in juggling four jobs plus the workload of being a single mother. I worked full-time in fast food during the day and divided my evenings and days off between computer repair, working for a cleaning business, and doing the books for another company.

I succeeded in raising my kids without the financial support of a man. I had to get help sometimes but I did it.

Finally, after decades of failure, I achieved financial freedom after I started this website and taught myself how to write and publish books. I rested on those laurels for several years.

But I failed again. I failed to take my own advice about multiple streams of income. I had preached for years to family and friends about the risk of depending on a single source of income. I knew better. I knew from experience just how hard it could be when you lost your only job for whatever reason. But I was cocky. I’d made it. I was free.

I learned that lesson the hard way once more as I watched the changing world of the Internet pick away at my royalties. I even failed to acknowledge the change at first.

I achieved financial freedom but I failed to keep it.

So I did what I do best: I had a good cry, dusted myself off, and moved on. What’s one more failure when you have so many already? I went back to work in a public job as I analyzed my mistakes.

I may have failed but I am not defeated. I will fail as many times as it takes in order to achieve success.

How many times have you failed? Please share your stories in the comments below.



16 thoughts on “The Story of a Failure”

  1. Sorry you had to hear such a vicious conversation as a child. Congratulations for rising above the hatred.
    I admire people who are willing to try. I can say I have not failed much in life simply because I avoided anything I believed could lead to failure. I have not applied for positions as I did not want the call saying I did not get the job. I have avoided learning new thjngs to avoid looking incompetent. Essentially, I havr missed out on experiences that would have made my life more full. Failure is not the worst thing that could happen.

    1. Failure is not the worst thing that could happen.

      Those words are the mark of true wisdom, Theresa. Because you’re right. You are absolutely right. We simply discovered the truth in different ways.

  2. You are an amazing woman. A woman who has demonstrated strength and persistence. I would be proud to share your story with my students. Please know that every time I read your blog I learn something important about character.

    1. Deb, I would be honored if you shared my story with your students. If I can be of service in this please do not hesitate to let me know.

  3. I became depressed in high school so skipped many days until I barely graduated. Then I was fired from my first full-time job for absenteeism. Later i was fired from another job for failure to tell a customer he was right and I was wrong even though I’d done precisely what he told me to do. And several other things through the years.

  4. My worst failure happened 30 years ago and has haunted me ever since. Some failures we can never over come.

  5. I could start a blog on my failures! Some people don’t seem to have as much of a fear of failure as others. I’ve always been too critical of myself. The older I get the more I understand myself. Annie, you were at a disadvantage due to hearing that conversation. But look at you now. You are determined. You’re going to have what you want.

    1. Thank you, Cindy. I believe that time and experience can teach us not to be as afraid of failure. Years ago I was terrified of failure, to the point where I would throw my hands up in surrender at the first sign of it. I believed that it was better to quit than to fail. Now I’ve gotten so many failures and mistakes under my belt they don’t frighten me as much. Now I ask myself “what’s the worst that can happen?” If I believe that I can handle the worst-case scenario I accept it as a logical risk and move on.

  6. I have so many failures under my belt, I could not even count them….but, like you, I have never stopped trying and looking forward, not back( at least not too much )
    I absolutely love your writing and look forward to every new piece you write- and have purchased most of your books as well. You speak from the heart, Annie, and that resonates with all of us following you. You are a success in the most amazing ,wonderful way- you touch people by sharing parts of yourself, you are real,like the velveteen rabbit. Please dont ever stop writing!!

    1. Aww, thank you, Valerie! It is my hope that by sharing my weaknesses that people realize that they are not alone. Everyone makes mistakes and everyone fails on occasion. Perhaps if we begin to learn from our failures we can work out how to overcome them.

  7. Failure? No way. You have demonstrated grit, tenacity and perseverance. That’s a triumph, not a failure.

  8. Hi Annie,

    This post really struck a chord with me as I can relate to so much of it. As I’ve got older I’ve come to believe that our failures enable us to grow, heal and help others in similar situations. (Although at times I have to make a conscious effort to remind myself of this). Whilst reading your words, I envisage you as a strong, independent, powerful yet, caring and down to earth woman. Your wise words really do have a positive impact on me and I just wanted to express my gratitude for them.

    1. Thank you, Julie. I’m glad my words have helped you in some small way.

      Like you, it took a long time to realize the truth about failure. I would believe that my life is over after every setback I experienced. I even recall one point in my life when, frustrated at having to stretch $10 of food to feed my kids each week, I snapped to a friend of mine that I might as well learn how to “get all I could get’ since I’d never be able to do better otherwise.

      Fortunately, I quickly remembered that there had been times during my marriage when I had to feed the four of us on $25 a month. That knowledge made me stop feeling sorry for myself and get back to work. Experience is a wonderful teacher.

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