I used to think it was bullshit.
Not that I don’t help people. I do. I enjoy it. But I never really did it to get something out of it. I did it because I wanted to help. I genuinely did it just for the other person.
But it wasn’t until recently that I realized that helping others would make me feel better about myself when I was feeling pretty crappy.
A couple of weeks ago an organization I was involved with at school had a women’s conference. All these college girls in leadership roles came down to my city to participate in workshops, team buildings skills, and Q&A panels.
Now I wasn’t the typical alumni. Most that graduated are suit-and-tie successful, working in nonprofits, schools, and business sectors. Stuff where you have an office, an assistant, and a business card. I tried to rally some of them up to go, because they’re pretty awesome women who would have blown their minds, but no one could or wanted to go.
So I went on my own.
I wasn’t sure what I could contribute seeing how my path wasn’t and isn’t a straight connect-the-dots-A-to-B story of success.
But when I went I heard similar stories from the young women there, uncertainty scared them, the future worried them even if they were prepared, finding connections, jobs and the “real world” after college concerned them.
I realized … they were scared of failure.
I was like, man. I got this! I felt like I was on Jeopardy and my category was up. Failure for 300 please.
I know everything there is to know about failure. I fail at least once a week.
So with this alumni panel speaking words of here’s the path to success, here are all the steps I took that led to success with no problem, I spoke of failure. I spoke of how it WILL happen, no matter how much you study or how hard you prepare, you are going to fail, and if someone tells you it hasn’t happened to them … they’re lying.
I continued with my speech …
Failure happens. Nobody ever told me that. Good people, hard working people, smart people, they fail. And you shouldn’t be scared of that.
It’s gonna happen, and you’re gonna think that you’re the only one because no one is going to talk about it. But they do fail. We’re out there. Everywhere. People who fail.
You just have to get up.
That was the key. Not giving up.
I mentioned that a lot of my failures make for great stories. Just have to find the funny in the not-so-funny situations.
I was asked the night before to read one of my stories, or something that had been published during the workshop. Funny enough, there was failure in it. The amusing first love, coming-of-age story that turns out all right after failure. And the thing is, that was the first time I had read my work aloud to others.
It was trip.
I was talking about failures and ended up having a small success up on that podium. It felt good to have them respond so well to my piece, but it felt even better to know that I was able to give them something of myself that might one day help them out.
You know the day when failure happens and they feel every bit of awful in every part of their heart and spirit, and they’re chugging on that Two-Buck-Chuck wine bottle from Trader Joe’s or scraping the bottom of that Dryer’s Chocolate Chip Ice Cream tub. When they’re at that low point, I hope they remember my story, or mini-speech on the alumni panel, and I hope it makes them feel better.
It might. I had a feeling when I left, that I had made an impact on a few of them. Having my experiences with failures help someone out … dude that definitely felt good.
Buen Camino friends!