Your Failure Resume
Piggybacking on Sunday’s post about presenting the whole picture and not just the highlights reel, Lifehacker had an interesting idea a few weeks ago about creating a failure resume. So think the opposite of your actual resume. It’s a document that catalogues all the times you’ve failed.
But there’s a point!
By doing this exercise, you stop telling yourself a messed up version of life where you pretend everything came to you easily. Instead, you remember how far you’ve come and the times where you’ve had to navigate a difficult path to emerge out the other side.
I was trying to think about how I would arrange my failure resume, similar to the way people highlight different aspects of their experience depending on their job. My chemical pregnancies and preterm labour should probably go toward the bottom of the document at this point, similar to the way I tuck my degrees towards the bottom of my resume.
I guess I would start with not getting into my first choice college. That sucked. I remember crying so hard that I couldn’t breathe, and my friend, Matt, taking me out to see My Own Private Idaho for the sixth time as a condolence prize. I was miserable about this fact until October of my freshman year of college when I decided that it was okay that I wasn’t where I wanted to be, and I was going to be happy where I was. I had a fantastic four years, and zero regrets in retrospect, though… at the time… it sucked.
And I would currently end with all the agent rejections followed by the publisher rejections that I’ve collected over the years. Connecting with my current agent took a lot of time and a lot of “no, thank you,” emails from other agencies. And then landing all of my publishing contracts also came with a heaping dose of “not for me.” It wouldn’t be that hard to crawl back through my email folders and start listing all the names and places as a reminder.
I really love this line from the article: “The notion that any person can achieve meaningful success without experiencing setbacks and disappointments seems hopelessly naïve.” Have I learned from all of my mistakes? No. There have been plenty of setbacks that haven’t taught me anything about myself or how to navigate life. But there are plenty that should be listed, if only to remind myself that sometimes shit happens, and sometimes we even get through it.
What do you think of making a failure resume?