I am a failure. I have failed at everything I have ever done which is precisely why in time, I have learned to excel in those exact same areas.
Feelings of failure and obstacles come and go as scenarios and the GameBoy-like levels of life change. Different cities, people, and even the weather can catch us totally off guard and knock us off our A game. My greatest failure was writing. I walked away from it at a very young age. I was scared and I was pretty sure that I would be criticized for being impractical and stupid so I decided not to pursue it. Instead, I explored of long list of marketing and financial opportunities. At first, I felt foolish for having done this. Not because I knew what I wanted but because the minute I began working, I knew what I didn’t want. I felt I had wasted time, money, and energy on… I don’t even know what. I was pissed off and frustrated for a long time and it’s only now I see everything that was actually going on.
Looking back now, I realize that being lost was actually the best thing that could have ever happened to me. I’m not exactly sure what I would be writing about if I hadn’t been. Here are a few lessons I picked up because of it:
- When I first came to New York, I interviewed for roles ranging from assistant to a model’s agent. I began to learn things about different industries, I began to pick up on how things differed across sectors, even in neighborhoods. I even began to understand New York through the people I met. I learned to talk to people that I had no interest in listening to, to ask questions that made me sound interested, and more importantly I learned what not to say. I’ve learned how coworkers in marketing, fashion, and finance think. I acquired a mean set of analytical skills over the years, all of which I use day in and day out for my writing. I feel comfortable in a wide range of industries and roles because I was so busy fidgeting with what I could try next. My skills needed to be transferable, I needed to pick things up quickly and I soaked up the information around me like a sponge. I have the skill set to survive while I’m not writing and sh*t load of content to use for when I am.
- The content I have acquired over the years is priceless. I’ve worked for sh*tty people. I have been in the corporate world. I’ve interviewed in more buildings in New York than I’ve had dinner at. I’ve been arounnnnd my friends and one day, I’ll tell you all about it.
- I’ve been rejected. If interviewing was a sport, they’d honor me like Jordan. Sometime last year, I became very comfortable with rejection and I stopped taking it so personal. That’s when interviews started getting fun and … when I started getting offers. As I become more confident in my writing, I have seen this same fearlessness of rejection float up to the surface. I’m more interested in getting better than being hurt. I hear as a writer you need thick skin… so there you go.
- I learned that when you decide to fit in somewhere, somehow you do. I decided to be an assistant in one of the most erratic industries and I excelled. I now apply the same attitude in my writing. Sometimes, I feel frustrated and I remember the first time that my boss asked me to “create a high yield bond chart showing spread to worst for commodity chemicals”. It’s always the same feeling… a quick chill passes until I remember that I know how to do them on my own now. I suddenly feel foolish and it’s easy to get back to work after that. It’s not always the best work but it beats the melodrama of thinking that I can’t do it.
- Most people don’t know what they want or what they are good at but it’s the restless that tend to find it.
So, I don’t know what’s been frustrating you lately but it could be that the wheels are already in motion. Jobs said it best when he encouraged us to stay hungry.You’ll figure it out.