An Introduction

How to Fail at Life, With Passion:

It’s pretty easy, actually.  Find something you’re passionate about, and let it take over your life.  Better yet, find two things.  The more the better, actually.  See, the more things you love, the more time you will spend on them rather than things you should[1] be doing…like work or school.  However, in my opinion you only really fail at life if you have no passions, take no risks and infallibly follow your brain before your heart.  That’s what I like to tell myself, at least.  You probably shouldn’t listen to me.

The point of this blog is mostly (hopefully) to convey the idea that there is no such thing as actually “failing at life.”  Even if you feel like you are, which I think quite a lot of people like myself (young, recently out of school, trying to figure out life but really just having a constant crisis) feel about themselves.  I think it’s easy to feel like a failure when you’re just starting out, in a society that tells you there’s one single way to be a success, and you’re nowhere near there yet; that in fact, you may never get there, especially if you don’t follow these specific steps that you’re probably not following.  It’s really easy to feel that way if you choose a non-traditional life path – i.e. chasing after a passion.  It’s easy to look at “everyone else,” meaning your more “successful” friends who seem to have their lives together, and think that you should be more like them: doing something different, something more, something better.  Obviously yes, our goal is to not end up homeless and hungry – but hey, even if you are, if you’re still alive you haven’t failed yet.  I really believe that there is a place for everyone in this world, even if it takes some people a longer time or a different route to find theirs.  (Just look at what J.K. Rowling says about failure)

Most of the time, I think people only share the good parts of their life with others.  How many Facebook posts do you see about your friends getting married or having kids, or getting a new job or car, or moving to an exciting new city?  Well they didn’t tell you about that last fight they had with their husband, did they?  Or how their kid threw up on their new couch, or that they were fired from their last job, wrecked their last car, or had to move because they couldn’t afford rent?  Of course not, people are much more reluctant to share those things.  They might be judged harshly, ridiculed by their peers, seem like they don’t measure up.  This makes it easy for anyone with struggles to feel like they’re the only ones having such a hard time.

They’re not.  We’re all in the same boat (most of us, anyway) and we should support each other.  I will do my best to be completely honest here.  You can judge me if you want, but I promise I won’t judge you.  There’s enough of that out there for my taste.  We’re human.  We’re allowed to be imperfect.  We’re allowed to make mistakes and bad decisions.  That’s what being young is for.  Heck, that’s what life is for; there’s no age limit on failure.  (But that means there’s no age limit on success either, right?)  So, for everyone who feels like their life is a mess, I want to share my messy life with you, too.  I don’t know if it will help, but maybe you’ll at least see that you’re not alone.

♦ ♦ ♦

A bit about myself – I’m obviously quite a success.  I’m twenty-six, jobless, and just moved back into my parents’ basement.  Oh, and I spend money like a rockstar.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t spend on material things like clothes or cars that much, I really couldn’t care less about that stuff.  I’m a simple country girl in that regard, and hardly ever dress better than old boots and jeans.  Instead, I spend money on my passions.  My sports, mostly – horseback riding and martial arts.  Of the two, the horses are the biggest spenders; and of course they’re also my biggest passion.  In fact, I’ve been pretty set on making them my career, even though they are not really a viable career path, since they often like to cost more money than they make.[2]  Still, I have found myself (and for some reason continue) traipsing down that non-path, hell-bent on the idea that I can bushwhack my way through, fueled by passion alone, to somewhere financially sustainable.  I know, young people and their crazy ideas, right?

After I graduated college (a year and a half late, by the way), I was pretty happy that I had a job right away.  Of course, it didn’t pay me any money.  I got to be a working student for my trainer, which was the coolest job I could have asked for.  (For the non-horsey folk out there, working students are common in the horse world; though usually they are just out of high school or on summer break from college, not twenty-four-year-old graduates, but that’s beside the point.)  Working students help take care of the barn and horses in exchange for their own horse’s board and lessons.  If you think it sounds crazy, I’ll explain it to you the same way I told my non-horsey friends who thought the same thing: it’s like an internship, the idea is that you learn about taking care of horses and running a barn, and get experience for future jobs.  And yes, it’s crazy.  A lot of people don’t last; they think it sounds fun, until they start doing the work, and decide it’s too much.  They’re right, it’s too much work for too little pay, but for those of us who are really passionate about horses, it’s worth it.  I even considered it fun.  In fact, the almost-year-and-a-half I was there was one of the best parts of my life.  I had a blast and learned so much about horses and riding I could hardly believe it; I was getting to live my dream.  However, at the end, I found that I didn’t really feel that I was any further along in the rest of life than I had been when I started, and I began to question what all those skills I gained from that experience had gotten me, in the long run.  As I said before, horses are not really a viable career path, no matter how much I pretend that they are.

Anyway, the point of this post is not for me to rattle on about horses (trust me, I’ll probably do that enough anyway), the point is to explain what has gotten me to this spot in my life.  It has been a little over a year since I was a working student.  Since then, I have gone back to school to get licensed as a veterinary technician, worked briefly for four months at a small-animal clinic, hated it, and quit.  I’m still in school, with the hope that the knowledge will help me in my imagined future career with horses, and that being in school means I can at least pretend I’m doing something others might consider productive.  I am often quite hard on myself.  I said before how I felt like being a working student hadn’t gotten me anything.  Well, that is just not true.  That is the rest of society talking, telling me that anything you do that doesn’t fit into their nice little squares is a waste of time.

I told you I am writing this blog for you, for anyone who is having a hard time figuring out life.  That isn’t completely honest, and I said I would try to be completely honest here.  So, here is the whole truth: I am writing this for me, too.  I need this reminder as much as anyone, and seeing it written down somehow makes it feel more true than when I tell it to myself in my own head.  The only time I have ever wasted was in doing things I didn’t care about, trying to meet other people’s expectations.  The skills I got from the experiences I have had so far have gone well beyond the obvious, and I learned a lot more than just some stuff about horses and animals, more than I have room to go into now.  I gained things I would not have gained had I followed the more acceptable path out of college of getting a 9-5 job in the city.  I need to remind myself of this every time I start to panic that I have messed up so far, or that I am not where I should be in life, or that I don’t know exactly where I’m going.  I’m sure others in a similar situation can relate, it’s hard to keep faith that everything will be okay, when life right now seems so shaky.  So, for what it’s worth, here is my life advice, terrible as it may be: true success is what you make it, not what others tell you it is.  Think about what you want out of life.  Then go for it.  I know this phase of life is scary.  One step at a time.  You got this.

 

[1] One of my favorite quotes in the world was something a dear friend of mine said to me: “don’t should all over yourself.”  Wise words.

[2] A common saying in the horse world is: if you want to make a million dollars with horses, start with two million.

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