Last week on my blog I wrote about poetry and the risk I felt in writing it. I wrote nobly about how failure would be good for me as it wasn’t all about grades. Which was alright to say when I hadn’t had a grade back. But now I have. And I don’t like it.
The mark took me back to getting 4% in my O’ Level physics class and the shame I felt. Back to the the times where I didn’t make the first netball team, where I was reserve for the high jump, where my best friend, small and blond, got all the boys and I was the girl who they spoke to only to speak to her.
Failure hurts and I had forgotten that, when I glibly wrote last week’s post.
Poetry in no way matters in the real world. No one cares. My life doesn’t depend on it, nor my work. Most of what I write is only read by other students, I haven’t put it out in the world yet, it feels too personal.
So maybe there’s the rub. The poems matter, I care about them and feel protective. They feel intimate, so a poor mark for them, feels like a poor mark for me because we are umbilically connected.
The mark feels like I’m not being seen or understood, which as I write that, is silly, because that isn’t the marker’s job, nor the reader’s, it is mine; my job to see and understand me. I gather fragments from my life and shape them into something more, something which for me, feels coherent and transcendent, giving me insight and clarity. Which is a gift in itself. But still failure hurts.
I’m a life coach and so know lots of cognitive techniques to cope with failure. I can rationalise, put into perspective, de-catastrophise, challenge negative thinking, look for alternative evidence, find new narratives to counter the story of failure. I can do all this and know it works.
But actually I want to feel this because I care about the poems.
Sometimes failure needs sitting with, needs acknowledging. There is a loss in failure that needs attention and care, balm and kindness. When failure stings, we find what matters most to us and this can be rich feedback about our values and passion.
So this failure is sore and raw, but I will be curious about it and see what I learn.
If you enjoyed reading this please share it with friends. You might also be interested in talking to me about coaching , or maybe try some of my online courses (some are free).
Thanks for being here.