How to Deal When You Feel a Little Bit Like a Failure

How to Deal When You Feel a Little Bit Like a Failure
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This summer I found myself in a funk. I’ve sat on this post for a good month now, trying to decide if it had the right “tone” for my brand and my blog. I love my blog. LOVE it. I love that it’s light and fun and full of beautiful inspiration. I love that it inspires and might actually mean something to people. But the girl behind the blog – nerdy, shy me – she’s very real.

For the past many weeks I’ve had this overwhelming feeling that I’ve been failing. At everything. So much so that I was going to title this post, “Because Sometimes I Suck At Everything,” but then I realized that would upset my Grandma (Hi, Grandma!) and I realized I could find the positive spin.

It all started when I learned that I had made not one, but two, rather stupid mistakes relating to my work. I’ve been a full-time blogger for a year, managing my blog for more than six years, and juggled both blogging and a career as a lawyer for six years. Yet in just the past few weeks, I made two mistakes I’ve never made before. I was able to correct both, thank goodness. But both made me feel like I was awful at my job. The funny thing is, I dealt with much more pervasive issues – people’s lives, health, finances, and futures in a demanding legal career, while juggling a growing blog, for six whole years – and yet even making a mistake on a blog post about something almost inconsequential in the grand scheme of things, reduced me to tears and left me doubting my ability to be “good” at my job.

Those blog business mistakes, e-mails I’ve yet to return, missed opportunities because of my schedule, and a “to do” list that feels miles long, along with a brand new house filled to the brim with moving boxes that my clumsy toddler keeps walking into, plus a trip to the emergency room this past weekend when Scarlett fought the coffee table and the coffee table won (and the worst part is: I’ve vowed for weeks to get rid of that stupid coffee table for this exact reason, but “busy” got in the way and I plain old forgot), has me feeling like a total failure. For the record: Scarlett is perfect – just some minor bruising on her ear. She was actually happy as a clam even as we waited in the ER and hubby and I knew we had officially suffered our first major first-time-parent overreaction.

Failing at life stuff and even the occasional business mistake, while it sucks, I can deal with it. I can make amends and try to be more organized. Failing at being a mom, that hurts. I know inherently, that I’m not. Dinner is on the table, mostly made by me, every night, and Scarlett is well taken care of, learning constantly, and is so loved. But it doesn’t stop the guilt train … it barely slows it at all.

What is it about mom guilt that can knock you down so fast, no matter how hard you’re trying?

I’ve worked tirelessly for months moving us from one house to an apartment then into another house (the current and hopefully somewhat permanent house) almost completely on my own. I adore my husband, but as a resident, he’s barely here, and most of the home burdens fall to me. Then, the last two weeks, I’ve spent hours each day – often neglecting my own blog work, which I’m sure contributed to the above mistakes – unpacking boxes. If you’ve moved, you know just how awful unpacking can be. Unpacking with a toddler is a whole different ballgame. I stare at the boxes some days and think, “Forget it, we’re living just like this, boxes and all.” Other days I get so frustrated that I set out determined to find help at any cost and send out e-mails looking for a professional packer.Note to self: help does have a cost, and it’s way too expensive. So back to the boxes I go.

And then Scarlett stumbles into the same open cardboard box twice in one day, leaving two neat cuts on her little arms and it takes everything in me not to cry right along with her each time she gets hurt. Her hitting the coffee table; that was even worse. When your baby falls or hurts themselves, you panic, and rightfully so. When your baby falls or hurts themselves because of something you did, you feel like the world is ending. Typically, that’s accompanied by feeling like the worst parent in the world. It’s one of the most horrible feelings. It’s also stupid and unfounded and totally overblown, but as a parent, it’s the state of things. Sadly, we felt that exact feeling before when Scarlett was just a few months old and she had to be hospitalized for eye issues and later, and on several occasions, for stomach issues. When she cried, because I had taken her to the doctor, hospital, ER, for a procedure, etc., I did that to her. I know it’s not rational. I know it was the right thing to do. I know I’m just trying my best. But it feels … devastating.

As it were, the combination of all of this stuff, has made me feel like I kind of suck at everything. Maybe if I did one thing, or possibly two, I could do those things really well, but trying to be it all, do it all, it makes me feel like a fraud. Perhaps brands are only getting a fraction of the blogger that maybe I could be, our pretty little house could be so much more but I just don’t have the time, bills sit waiting to be paid, my friends wonder where I’ve been, and Scarlett is only getting a part of the Mom she deserves. The juggle is real.

So what’s a girl supposed to do?

I look at this little bug.

Photo by Annie Watts Photography

Growing up right before my eyes.

I remember what’s important.

I plan day trips and weekend trips and someday vacations. I put those things in my calendar so that I can remind myself that they are there and that the good things are ahead. That not everything is about work.

I give myself a break and cut myself some slack. I tell myself that even though a small mistake feels monumental in my world, so long as I act with grace and humility, and attempt to fix things and do my best, I’ve done just that – my best – and in all likelihood, it’s not monumental at all.

My friends know that I’m here, but that I’m busy, and that I love them. I try to make new friends too, because moving to a new place, it’s lonely, and loneliness gets overwhelming too.

Photo by Annie Watts Photography

But I want Scarlett to know that I love her right now. Not that I was always working or worrying. So I put down my phone when we drag out the plastic pool to splash around in the startling late summer heat. I remind my tired hubby to do the same; to tuck her into bed and to read her too many story books at night, even though he comes home exhausted. We make new traditions; Taco Tuesdays is Scarlett’s current favorite.

I can’t say that I have all of the answers. And frankly, this week, even though I told myself all of these good things on repeat just the other day, I feel crummy again. I can’t lift that stupid coffee table on my own, and hubby has been working long shifts and he looks so tired at night. I feel behind today, and overwhelmed, and unsure about the path that I’m on. But I am sure, crystal clear in fact, that being this little girl’s mama, a good wife to my hubby, a good daughter, sister, grand-daughter and friend, a person who is passionate about what she does, that I’m not so bad at those things. That to those people and passions, I’m just enough. I hope that helps you too. You are enough, and you’re doing your very best.

So tell me, how do you deal when you’re feeling a little bit (or a lot) like a failure?


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