I don’t know if ever I have come across a word as painful, demoralizing, or heavy to me as this one.
It doesn’t hurt when it is being used in the typical pop culture manner of the word, but when bestowed upon me as a reward for my actions not meeting the requisite standard… Sigh…
And fail I did.
I have had many people who care about me try to soften the blow. I have had some very encouraging people attempt to encourage me by saying things like, “If you did your best, its not a fail,” and “Your wife and kids still love you, you didn’t fail.” There were a good number of these kinds of statements being sent to me. On the one hand, I really appreciated them. They made me feel good for a moment.
On the other hand, they were frustrating to a deep level.
I felt as though the encouragement that was being given to me was a dismissal of what had happened, a denial of the facts, an enticement to live contrary to reality.
And so I write this now… I’m calling it what it is.
It is a fail.
I failed to meet the minimum requirements to move forward with my training. I failed to accumulate the required minimum number of points on a battery of patient scenarios. I failed to perform my job in a manner commensurate with the predetermined standard which was required of me. This is the simple reality and truth of the matter. There was a standard. I did not attain it. Fail.
I understand what these encouragers were communicating to me. I am not a failure. I felt like one. The weekend after I got the news, I walked around in a strange fog of disbelief.
It is humiliating. It is painful for me. I am heavy hitter, a hot runner. I have been ” they guy that gets things done” for a long time. For me to engage in something this difficult and not succeed is a foreign concept.
I spent a lot of time thinking about failure and how it is handled by the folks around me. I think we need to adjust fire.
I had some folks tell me they were sorry that I failed, that they had faith in my ability to pass, and that they hoped I would get back to the plate and start swinging again. This is the healthy approach.
We cannot redefine a word when we don’t like how it makes us feel. We do not have the ability to redefine the standards placed upon us after we have committed to the task. We do not have the luxury of walking through life sans consequences. We had better not communicate to those around us that we believe we can do these things.
I have started to wonder… how many times have I redefined something in my life, or in the lives of those around me, because the truth was too bitter to swallow. Have I looked at a friend and told him that what he was doing is healthy, appropriate, just, wise, or even “not that bad”, when in fact it is unhealthy, inappropriate, unjust, unwise, or quite frankly “bad”? Has this quickness to redefine what is offensive so that I don’t have to really deal with the source of offense stretched into my beliefs? Or rather, have my beliefs failed to stretch into my daily interactions with others to such an extent that I believe that I am the authority who decides what is a fail, a pass, wise, just, unjust, good, bad, etc., without really understanding that that is what I am doing?
I am not the one to determine a fail. I simply perform.
Those who wrote the course, set the objectives, presented the material, and evaluated my performance are the appropriate judges. It is on their shoulders to define the fail.
Likewise, it is not me who determines what is right or wrong, just or unjust, fair or unfair. I simply discern what I see.
The Author of all life is the one who wrote the course of my life, set the objectives, determined my purpose, presented me with the resources required, and is the only appropriate Judge who determines what is right or wrong, just or unjust, righteous and unrighteous, pure and holy, or sin and… well… fail.
Another thing I got to think about was my struggle with “failure.” I fought, off and on, with feeling like a failure for years. I had such a ridiculous, strict, narrow view of success that practically everything I did failed to measure up. I would recall all the things I “failed” at and would feel as though nothing I did was good enough. I really felt as though I was a failure. Interestingly enough it took a legitimate fail for me to see that I have not legitimately failed at much of anything in my past. I know it is ironic, but a couple weeks after my first fail and I am realizing how awesome I have been in this game of life! (feel free to roll your eyes)
In summary, I failed and I want to call it a fail. Calling it a fail is not the same as calling me a failure. Saying I did not fail is redefining reality and calling “bad” “good”. I am simply the one who failed. After getting the bad news, the Navy went through the required procedure and, in the end, decided to send me back to the beginning of the course with another class. I hear repeating the 8th grade isn’t so bad…