“It’s fine to celebrate success, but it’s more important to heed the lessons of failure.”
According to the internet, this is something Bill Gates said. I don’t have much in common with the richest man on earth, but I figure he’s probably right about some things in order to be in his position.
And today, I need to heed the lessons of failure. Well, hopefully tomorrow I’ll heed. Today I’ll just write about it.
The weekend is drawing to a close, and with it the end of my fifth day as a fitness and diet guru. Right? Shouldn’t I have lost 10 pounds by now and discovered inner peace?
Alas, all I’ve done this weekend is one list of things I should be doing, another list of things I shouldn’t be doing, and feeling like an epic failure in between.
Friday night I went to the movies with my husband. I skipped dinner so I could have popcorn and chocolate at the theater, and I went to seep feeling okay about that choice, just this once.
Saturday morning I went to see the first Harry Potter movie by myself. It was a special screening and I’m a huge Harry Potter nerd, so I had to go. I snacked and forgot to log My Fitness Pal, which started the guilt train. Then I felt lonely because I was out by myself, but I’m by myself a lot and I’m usually used to it. This guilt was brought on by the fact that most of my friends were sitting at home watching General Conference for the Mormon Church (which I belong to) and I was watching Harry Potter instead.
So I went home and joined my husband and son and quickly turned on General Conference. Phew. I was doing something on the list of *shoulds.* And it was fulfilling. Only no one in my house cared about my change of heart – my son was doing laps around the kitchen and my dog was needing walked and played with and my husband was napping after playing with our son all morning so I could watch Harry Potter and my computer kept freezing so I was missing half of the talks I wanted to be spiritually edified from and on and on.
Weren’t most of the people I know surrounded by loved ones, eating Lion House rolls and singing hymns in unison in their perfectly clean living rooms while I was sitting alone with a toddler and a frozen computer screen?
By the second two-hour block of conference talks I was feeling better. My husband watched some with me, I baked cookies with my son and I felt the pendulum swing again into the *should* category.
But I was still feeling lonely. It had been building up all week, where I spent my days with my two year old and my nights doing homework, devoid of any socialization or connection with human adults. I needed fresh air, so I went for a quick drive.
To the ice cream shop.
Screw it, I thought. I’ve been such a failure all day. I’ll finish with ice cream.
Sunday- today- I woke up weary but ready to start fresh. But as I started watching General Conference again, and the house erupted into chaos, I kept thinking of all of the loving homes with reverent children, and probably fruit salad instead of the three cookies I just ate, and how they all sat around feeling spiritually and personally fulfilled.
Fail, fail, fail, I thought. I’ve done it all wrong for so long. You can trace it all back sooo far.
So we ditched General Conference and decided on a more worldly pursuit- the pumpkin patch. I fetched out my favorite autumn jacket from the past few years and it wouldn’t fit. It was so tight in my arms I couldn’t fold them. It buttoned but I was more lumpy than a sack of potatoes.
I felt the pendulum of my weekend success slide way over into the *should not* category. After the pumpkin patch, we went to my husband’s company picnic at a park and I ate a cookie. And chips. And a non-diet Coke. Screw it, screw it, screw it, I thought. We came home tonight and I ate chocolate just because we had it.
Now, there’s a few things to know about me: I like to think I’m quite self-aware, and I definitely don’t think I’m mopey, in general. I do take issue with the societal expectations placed on women and I don’t think I am correct to feel like a ‘failure’ at every turn like I did this weekend. It’s not the ‘normal me.’
But I’ve recently moved continents, and that’s a big change. I’ve had to adjust to a lot more time by myself and a lot more time with my thoughts. I’ve switched from having people to talk to about everything to internalizing a lot of my struggles.
And I often feel like an outsider in my new life, here in Fargo. Like I don’t fit anywhere very well.
I don’t always have weekends like the one I just described, but I wanted to recall an honest account of what went into thoughts and decisions this weekend.
If a therapist asked me to synthesize what I’ve written, I’d be able to point out how often I emotionally ate. That’s not something I realized I did! I’d be able to spot my all-or-nothing attitude. As soon as I felt myself sliding, I let myself down for the rest of the day. I’d also realize I’m probably having some self-esteem issues, which may be related to my weight, or to the move, or to my relationships with others, or a whole host of things. Life, I guess.
I titled this post Epic Fail, but I know that the weekend wasn’t. Yes, I failed at My Fitness Pal, and I ate cookies and ice cream. But I got a lot of good snuggles from my two year old and painted pumpkins with him. I got to see his joy at decorating cookies. I was spiritually edified by my church’s broadcasts (when I was able to watch). My husband made me breakfast this morning and let me sleep in both days!
I’m sure there are plenty of Epic Fails to look forward to. For now, I’ll chalk this up to a learning experience and remember that tomorrow is a new day!