New Castle News

June 9, 2014

Lisa Madras: Have I learned from my failures? Lord knows I’ve tried

Lisa Madras
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Which is worse, failing or never trying?

You'll have to excuse me if I've asked this question before. I honestly can't remember. Getting older hasn't been kind to my brain — which is the reason why I constantly question my decision to go back to school and completely switch careers.

I had my orientation for school last week. I'd held out hope until this point that there would be at least one other person in my class who was close to my age. No such luck. In fact, it looks like most of my instructors are even younger than I am. It's cool, because I'm not ageist or anything, but me doing this does feel a little bit like someone my age trying to wear a crop top with a belly button ring — technically you can do it, but it is really a great idea?

I then find out that the schedule is a little different than I thought it was. And by "a little different," I mean "different enough that I have no clue how I'm going to get my kids to school in the mornings." Factor in the surprise parking assignment that is a third of a mile away from the actual school building (a good 15-minute walk for someone of my less-than-desirable physical fitness level) and "a little different" suddenly becomes "oh crap, I have made a grievous error that could possibly ruin my life and my children's lives and is it too late to make a more intelligent decision such as merely donating my body to medical research or joining a cult?"

And so I spent the entire evening curled in a ball, crying, and wondering if it was too late to talk The News into giving me my job back. As I'm writing this, it is the morning after that semi-sleepless night. My eyes are swollen and red, my fingernails are chewed down to bloody stumps, and the bile swirling around in my stomach could probably digest zirconium.

I am now in complete understanding of how impossible it can be for certain people to better themselves — and it's a thought that makes me start to spiral into a darkness I haven't been to in a long time.

But I hover over that precipice, the battered and weary part of myself saying, "You should have known better than to even try," while the fighter in me clings to the lip of the cliff with what's left of my fingernails, and says, "Don't you DARE give up now."

And even while virtually every fiber of my being wants to surrender, that one teeny, tiny shred of determination (whether rational or not) is just enough to make me know that I'm going keep trying anyway.

I'm no stranger to failure. I'm the type of person who would rather eat dirt than admit defeat, but despite my best attempts, it has happened.  The crazy thing is, though, I see each one of those failures as signs that mark the trail behind me. Every single time that I've failed is a lesson learned and a realization that I at least tried.

I don't like it at the time, but I do like looking over my shoulder and thinking, "Wow, I've done SO much. I've learned SO much. I've become so ME." And I know without a doubt, that those failures happened because the time, or the purpose itself, just wasn't right.

Never in my life have I been so completely sure that I'm doing something I've been compelled to do by a power much greater than myself. How silly to think that a few snags would be enough to keep me from my life's purpose. How foolish to believe that of all the things I've overcome to get to this point that I would even consider giving up now. It's like slaying dragons and demons only to surrender to a splinter in your thumb.

Sure, it would be easy to keep doing what I'm doing now, because I'm comfortable and confident and my world is safe and simple. (Simple! For the first time ever!) But we're not put on this earth for easy, not truly.

We're here to be remarkable, through the successes and the failures — through the "try's."

“Kites rise highest against the wind, not with it.” — Winston Churchill