There are days when it feels like our best simply isn’t going to be good enough.
Days where we try and fail and feel defeated by our failures rather than encouraged by our continued efforts. Days when we just want to give up or get in the car and drive somewhere, anywhere, but here.
I had a day like that.
After many consecutive near-sleepless nights, I was exhausted. I woke up with circles so dark under my eyes that no amount of makeup could minimize them. It was one of those wet summer days when it’s raining just enough to discourage activity but not enough to feel truly cleansing.
I spent my day in a haze of exhaustion, my single parent status weighing heavily on me as it so rarely does. I had to struggle to be gentle, to be kind, to be patient. I had to remind myself that my children are little and learning and that they can’t be expected to adjust all that. I was so weary that I could have fallen asleep standing up.
I recently wrote about how our suffering is necessary to our growth.
Funnily enough, I wrote this only a few days before the full weight of my exhaustion had set in. My sleep began to be disturbed by a restless toddler night after night, and I was also running on this strange creative energy that would not allow my body and mind to rest. When the energy ran out, I was depleted in every way and was still expected to carry on. I had to remind myself that my pain was a necessary part of my challenge to keep growing but all I wanted was the oblivion of sleep.
The entire day was a learning moment for me.
I had to sit down with my children and apologize for my short temper and talk to them about how we have to learn not to be controlled by our emotions, but rather find ways of expressing them. I had certainly modeled what not to do, and then took the time to apologize and talk about how I can only do better next time. My daughter seemed to take it to heart and later apologized herself for her behavior earlier in the day, and used my own apology words right back to me.
It was in that moment that I knew that I had not completely failed that day.
I felt like I couldn’t be good enough for what the day required. I felt defeated from the start. I had to remind myself that the feelings of discouragement come and go, like all emotions come and go. I allowed myself to feel them, and then I allowed myself to learn from the experience. And hopefully I taught my children that we all have our difficult days, but we can apologize and we can do better next time. I hope they learned that a difficult day is no excuse for bad behavior but happens to the best of us.
We all have days where we feel like giving up. We have days when our responsibilities feel overwhelming, and we long for relief. What’s important to remember, is that we haven’t failed when we’ve at least tried, and if we’ve learned something from our experiences, we haven’t failed at all.
Failure, true failure, is not trying and not learning when we make mistakes. It’s when we refuse to apologize for our regrettable behavior. We fail when we don’t own up to our mistakes. We fail when we don’t even try to do better and won’t try next time either. We fail when we allow our difficult moments to define us rather than using them as teaching moments to challenge and change us into better human beings.
I know that I’ll have more tough days, and I know that I won’t get through them all with perfect behavior. I also know that I’ll keep trying. That’s all any of us can do, and we can honor our own struggles by allowing ourselves to be beautifully imperfect. We fall, we get back up, we keep moving forward. And we reach inside of ourselves and pull out our gratitude and our hope. We hold them tight and never let go.
We know that we are resourceful, we are powerful and we are worthy.
Some days we just need to allow ourselves time to recharge.
To eat well, to rest our minds and bodies, to give ourselves the space to feel what we need to feel. If we’re lucky, we can reach out to someone and ask for help when we need it. And we can rest in the knowledge that as long as we’re taking good care of ourselves and doing our best, we’ll be okay.
“It’s only a bad day, not a bad life.” ~ Johnny Depp
Author: Crystal Jackson
Editor: Sara Kärpänen & Ashleigh Hitchcock
Photo: Holly Lay / Flickr