Sometimes You Have to Fail

You’ve heard it a thousand times: failure is a part of life. It’s a theoretical we all know. There are thousands of movies romanticizing the journey of failure. But when it actually happens to you it sucks. Sure there is a light at the end of the tunnel, sure you are going to grow and find something better and feel like this all happened for a reason and that timing is everything, sure it’s not the end of everything it’s just a bump in the road. But it sucks.

Without failure we couldn’t become the person we need to become. But becoming is painful. It’s not glamorous. There aren’t actually make overs or meet cutes with Chris Evans or constant hangouts at bars with your friends, and there are actually budgets and bills and stress acne. The world keeps spinning and life moves on even though your world is falling apart.

But despite the pain, despite the grief, despite the anger, despite the struggle, failure really is an ok thing. It’s an important part of life. And yes, it really does make you better in the end.

So. What good comes from failure? Here are some reasons why failure is actually ok.

We All Fail

It happens to everyone. People lose out on jobs they wanted, get dumped, don’t get that promotion, get fired, lose that race, and more every day. Failure is embarrassing but it’s the most relatable thing. It’s hard to see in the moment, but we all fail at something in life. Everyone has experienced failure, you are not alone.

Failure is a Good Time for Self Reflection

It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. It’s about self discovery and finding the meaning in your life. Failing sheds light on the places you can grow. By allowing failure to dig deep into your character, you come through with a better understanding of who you are and where you want to go.

Failure Makes You Stronger

Without failure, there is no progress. There are countless famous success stories of how failure lead to the ultimate success. JK Rowling, Oprah, Bill Gates, and Walt Disney to name a few. And sure, we probably won’t all become successful billionaires because of our failures. But we can learn a similar lesson: failure can be emboldening. It teaches you how to keep going and fight for what really matters to you.

Failure Leads to New Things

New jobs, new relationships, new hobbies. Endings lead to beginnings. Meet new people, try new things, explore new paths. You finally have nothing holding you back from pursuing that career, going on that date, trying that new recipe. Before you had nothing pushing you to try something new, now you have nothing holding you back.

Failure Teaches You Empathy

Life experience changes your perspective of the world. Things become less black and white, right or wrong, and you realize that life has no one path to take. Through your own struggles you become more empathetic to the struggles of others. You can be more present with others, more vulnerable, more genuine. Failure makes you a better friend.

You Learn That Failure Doesn’t Kill You

Yes, it sucks to fail. It sucks to lose out on jobs or relationships or things that were really important to you. When it happens you can feel like your whole life is crashing down, your self esteem plummets. But eventually you realize something: you survived. You find a new job, a new relationship, a new hobby, your life goes on and you may actually end up being happier because of it. And once you learn that failure doesn’t kill you, you may actually start taking more risks in life.

Failure sucks. But sometimes you have to fail to get to the next chapter. And sometimes, you may even be better off because of it.

 

Darci

5 Things to Stop Caring About

Life can be stressful. Life can be chaotic. Life can be hard. The biggest kicker, though, is that sometimes we make life harder on ourselves. By indulging in negative thoughts or memories, prioritizing toxic people, living in the past, we hurt ourselves in the present and delay our happiness in the future. I’ve been working a lot on reshaping how I spend my mental energy. How I talk to myself. What I am spending my time thinking about. Being intentional about catching myself in a negative spiral and changing the game. It’s not always easy. But it’s important work. I’m trying to retrain my brain to think differently. So this week I thought I would share the five things I am working on changing. Take a look:

1. Those Painfully Awkward Moments.

Remember that joke you made in a meeting that didn’t land? Or that answer you gave in class that was definitely wrong? Or that time you thought someone was waving to you but it was actually to someone behind you? Those painfully awkward little moments that your brain likes to recall as you are falling asleep or enjoying some quiet time and now suddenly your heart is racing. Those social blunders that were embarrassing in the moment but that was seven years ago and no one but you remembers them, let alone dwells on them. Even your bigger blunders are probably still only note worthy to you. It’s time to let those go. When your brain starts to remind you, catch yourself and tell your brain that happened years ago and literally no one cares any more. Take the power away from those awkward moments by reminding yourself that it wasn’t as bad as you remember and it is well in the past now.

2. What People From Your Past Are Doing.

I’ll be the first to admit that Facebook stalking is a semi regular event. Social media makes it all too easy to take a passing “hmm I wonder” and turn it into a two hour rabbit hole investigation of what people from my past have been doing. Ex’s, former friends, old coworkers, past roommates, former classmates, all people who are in my past for a reason. And yet, the curiosity gets the better of me every time. It’s natural, though very unhealthy, to look for validation through comparison. But it’s a temporary, fleeting validation that leaves us emptier than we started. It also distracts the focus on your own life. You don’t need to compare your journey, your goals, your accomplishments to anyone to be happy. And, in fact, doing so is hurting your progress. My suggestion? Block those people you find yourself checking in on. That way the next time you are tempted to see what they are up to, you can’t. Eventually you’ll break the habit of even wondering what those people are up to and you won’t be distracted by it any more.

3. Pleasing Everybody.

It’s a cliched lesson, but I think I will spend the rest of my life relearning it. No matter how hard you try, you will never please everyone. There will always be people who take and take and take but never give. There will always be people who are too wrapped up in themselves not noticed anyone else. There will always be people stuck in the comparison game and they will never be happy for you. It’s time to stop worrying about those people. Your life is yours and you have to live it the way you know is best. So keep focusing on your dreams and your goals, keep treating others the way you want to be treated, and when someone shows resentment or expresses grievance over you simply living your life, you now have permission to involve them in your life less. Making time for people who hurt you regularly or openly root against you is silly. It doesn’t matter if they are coworkers, friends you’ve known for years, family, or even romantic partners. Your time is valuable and your mental well being is important. So stop wasting your time trying to please people who can never be won.

4. The Worst Case Scenario Game.

I’ll be honest, I am a fan of this game. Especially when I have a lot of anxiety about a situation or feel a lot of pressure. Sometimes saying your fear out loud can take some of the power away from it. But too much of anything is a bad thing. And I realized recently that I never play the Best Case Scenario Game. My what ifs are always negative. I’m always preparing for the worst, anticipating the worst, assuming the worst. And not only is that way of thinking depressing and unhealthy, it’s exhausting. I find I am always worried, always anxious, depressed far more often. All because I am far too indulgent in my fears rather than focusing on my hopes. I used to justify this way of thinking by saying “hope for the best, prepare for the worst”. But what if by dwelling so much on the worst I make the worst inevitable? What if by spending more time focusing on the best, preparing for the best, even planning for the best, that made the best happen? So now, when I catch myself playing the Worst Case Scenario Game, I make myself stop and think about what the Best Case Scenario could be instead.

5. Where You Should Be in Life at X Age.

Again, comparison is a dangerous habit that pretty much only leads to depression. Just because you aren’t married yet, don’t have kids, haven’t gotten that degree, don’t have that professional title yet, doesn’t mean you are falling behind or failing. School was very structured, and it gave all of us this false illusion that the rest of life would be too. But there is no order of events, no timeline to follow, no progress report, no big moments you need to hit by a certain time. Plenty of people followed “the plan” of getting married young to someone they weren’t actually compatible with, had kids even though they weren’t ready to be a parent, or worked their way up the ladder for a career they didn’t want. Too many people do what they are “supposed” to do without considering if they want to do it. And too many people feel like they are failing at life because they aren’t doing what they are “supposed” to be doing right now. But the most freeing moment in life is when you realize that you get to call the shots for your life and you get to decide what path is right for you.

Why is it so easy for our brains to think negatively, to be stressed or anxious or overwhelmed, to focus on comparisons or the past, but we doing the opposite takes so much work? I’ve been wondering that a lot lately as I’ve been working on intentionally changing my patterns. When did those patterns form, I wonder. And when will they change? It’s hard work, it’s consistent work, but it’s good work. And hopefully it will stop being work someday and start being a way of life.

Darci

We Are All Broken

In a world where you can be anything, be kind” – Jennifer Dukes Lee

When I was a junior in college I broke my arm. More specifically, I broke my radial head, the part of your forearm that connects to your elbow. I had never broken a bone before. And honestly the inconvenience of not being able to use my arm for the better part of two months was far more difficult than the pain. I couldn’t bend or twist my arm at all for the first several weeks, I couldn’t grip anything with my hand. You realize how much you need your arm when you can’t use it. I couldn’t do most house chores, I couldn’t tie my own hair back, I couldn’t open my own pill bottles, I couldn’t put on a bra.

I became very dependent on everyone around me and it was challenging. I needed my roommates to cook my meals, do my chores, tie my hair back so I could wash my face. I needed my coworkers to do most of my job for me. Growing bone is also exhausting, so I was tired all the time. Honestly, it was a pretty embarrassing, helpless time.

But because I broke my arm right at the elbow, I didn’t have a cast. They wanted me to start moving my arm as much as possible as soon as possible so that it didn’t heal in one position. I had a sling that I was supposed to wear to alert people around me that I was injured and I needed space. But the sling was removable. So I often didn’t wear it.

Because I didn’t want people to know I was broken and helpless.

All in all, it worked out. No one ended up bumping into me, I didn’t trip and fall and hurt myself more, my chores got done, my job got done, I got fed, my school work was completed. For eight weeks I went about campus and almost no one knew that I was injured and exhausted. My arm healed, and life went on.

My point, if it isn’t obvious yet, is that we have no idea what someone is going through. Not everyone you encounter will have a literal broken arm, but everyone around you is going through something. And we don’t want the world around us to know. Your coworkers may be struggling financially, your friends marriage may be falling apart, your family members may be struggling with depression.

We are all hurt, we are all exhausted, we are all embarrassed at how broken we feel.

So this week, I challenge you to be kinder. Ask your barista how their day is going and really listen, give the people on the sidewalk a little extra room, reach out to your friends who you haven’t heard from in a while and let them know you still care. If someone is short with you, give them some grace. If someone is quieter, say hello. Set aside your pride, your self-centeredness, and be kind instead. Find one moment every day this week to be intentionally kind.

Maybe we won’t change the world with kindness, but maybe we will.

 

-Darci

Punching Down

Do you ever stumble upon a phrase that helps you articulate something you just couldn’t quite define and suddenly it all clicks?

That happened to me recently when I discovered the term “punching down”. I was reading a movie review for Isn’t It Romantic that compared the film to another recent rom-com starting an unconventionally attractive woman I Feel Pretty. Very similar plot lines, but this reviewer felt very differently about the films. She said Isn’t It Romantic was smart, hilarious, and most importantly it doesn’t punch down.

And as soon as I read that, it clicked. That’s what I don’t like about certain comedians, certain movies, certain television shows, certain politicians. They punch down.

So what is punching down? Punching down is when someone of a higher rank, a position of power, a person of superiority makes a joke at the expense of the less powerful or an oppressed group. You might also refer to this as cheap shots, or making someone the butt of the joke.

Or as I like to call it: mean humor.

Punching down is used to make someone or ones feel small. It’s used to downplay, to belittle, to shame, or to dismiss all disguised as humor. Basically punching down is someones way of justifying being a total asshole by claiming it’s just a joke. And quite often, it doesn’t work out so well for the joker.

Remember when Jesse Watters on The O’Reilly Factor went to New York’s Chinatown to interview Chinese-American’s and proceeded to ask horrifically racist questions (do you know karate, should I bow, can I get a foot massage, and mocked their broken english)? It was meant to be humorous, it was meant to show the apparently inherent hilarity of the Chinese culture, when really it was just blatant racism against a group of minorities.

Punching down is all over the place these days. Most women’s issues are punched down (who would want to sexually harass you), our current president does it all the time, Conservatives and Republicans think it’s a fun way to go after the Democrats. Using humor as a way to discredit real issues like sexual harassment or racism just shows that you are a sexist or a racist, not that you are funny and certainly not that these issues are real.

Things that are really funny punch up. Instead of wasting their time going after people who are typically the minority or the oppressed, they go after people with tangible power that’s being abused. A basic element of humor is that your best stuff will come from going after people that are bigger than you.

There has been a lot of critique of comedy over the last few years, claiming that we are all too sensitive and everyone gets offended too easily. What can we even joke about now? To which I say that is absolute bullshit. Making fun of the weak has never been funny.

Michelle Wolf’s White House Correspondence Dinner routine was funny because she went after a powerful establishment with meticulously researched critiques and take downs. Amy Schumer making a rape joke about Hispanics isn’t funny because there is no data to back her up, so she is just further perpetuating a false stereotype of an oppressed group.

Using comedy as a tool to abuse the already abused isn’t just deeply unfunny, it also reveals a lack of understanding of how power is structured. And that is the root of what is really being called out right now. Women and minorities face daily battles and uphill challenges, and those need to be taken seriously. And the biggest factor to be addressed is the abuse of the power structure.

Making jokes about it is not the solution.

Using humor to put people down, make people feel small, silence people, and downplay real issues isn’t funny. When you punch down, you aren’t making a joke, you are part of the problem.

 

 

-Darci

Pixar Gets Feminist

I love Pixar. It’s a well known fact about me amongst my friends. Pixar has always been innovated and unique in their story telling, and their new venture is no exception. SparkShorts is their new platform of short films, which the company’s website explains is a new program designed to feature “new storytellers, explore new storytelling techniques, and experiment with new production workflows,” adding that the shorts will be “unlike anything ever done” at Pixar. This is a platform for new artists to create freely. And it’s fabulous.

SparkShorts first short Purl is all about women in the workplace, and it’s one to pay attention to. It’s clear from this first short that they are looking to discuss a more serious subject matter than usual. I love Pixar shorts, and even find some of the more recent ones quite profound (La Luna and Piper were particularly moving). But SparkShorts is going deeper, digging into the issues facing society today.

In the short, a ball of yarn named Purl tries to get – and keep – a job at a new workplace, but has trouble fitting in because she is literally and metaphorically “soft,” represented by a ball of knitting yarn placed next to human men.

Check out the short here!

The short opens with Purl, the most qualified resume of candidates, landing an entry level job at a prestigious company. Purl has enthusiasm and hope as she decorates her desk in “soft” things, like knitted patterns, and attempts to join in on some water cooler chit chat. Then Purl tries to navigate a meeting by joining in on the conversation and being a team player, but her colleagues insist on an “aggressive” approach to “win”.

So despite being smart and capable, Purl feels out of place and ostracized because she is different from her male dominated work place. So her solution? Conform to the work environment and masculine expectations, literally re-sewing her “clothes” into a suit. There are plenty of metaphors here, but the most obvious one: to thrive at a company, Purl has to lose any semblance of her femininity.

But everything changes when Lacey, another female, joins the team. At this point, the pair seem to recognize that their femininity and unique qualities are actually an asset to the workplace, and they shouldn’t have to conform to succeed.

Kristen Lester, the director, said that the inspiration came from Lester’s experience being in the field of animation. “My first job, I was like the only woman in the room, and so in order to do the thing that I loved, I sort of became one of the guys. And then i cam to Pixar, and I started to work on teams with women for the first time, and that actually made me realize how much of the female aspect of myself I had sort of buried and left behind.”

Purl is very relatable for many women in the work force. In a world where masculine qualities are preferred for leadership, but only when they come from men, women are left behind constantly in the work place. As women continue to point out the atrocities in how we are treated, shorts like Purl help communicate our circumstances.

What I love most about this short is the ending.  That by women supporting each other, by women embracing their strengths, by giving women more opportunities in the work place, the experience improves for everyone.

Pixar is set to release two more SparkShorts this month, and I am looking forward to seeing what they do next.

 

-Darci

Toxic Masculinity: Should Men Be Better? 

Gillette made an ad suggesting that men could be better. And then the internet exploded.

I watched the ad before diving into articles and comments and opinion pieces. You can watch it here if you haven’t seen it already.

The ad illustrates “Toxic Masculinity” through examples of young boys being bullied, sexual harassment, catcalling, a man speaking over a woman in a meeting, and the “boys will be boys” line. The second half of the ad then goes on to call men to be better, with Terry Crews suggesting, “men to hold other men accountable”. And then the men in the ad go on to break up fights, stop their friends from making women uncomfortable, all while being seemingly pleasant men. The ad implies that men should be behaving better and redefining masculinity, because the boys watching today will be the men of tomorrow.

And oh boy, were some men angry about this ad.

It’s not surprising that this caused controversy. Despite the fact that women have been pointing to the problem of toxic masculinity long before #MeToo, I’m not surprised that in 2019 the majority of people still want to deny that there is a problem, let alone that they might be part of the problem. Self reflection is hard, conflict is hard, and change is even harder. Sure enough there were lots of “Not all men!” cries when this ad came out, lots of comments about how it’s too generalized, or that this doesn’t apply to me specifically so it’s not relevant.

So let’s break it down shall we?

What is Toxic Masculinity?  
Toxic Masculinity is a narrow and repressive description of ideas about the male gender role. Defining masculinity with exaggerated characteristics of violence, sex, status, and aggression. Toxic Masculinity is a result of cultural masculinity taking control; where strength is everything and emotions are weakness, “feminine traits” – which can range from emotional vulnerability to sexuality – can take your “man” status away, when sexual conquests are how a man establishes and reaffirms his manhood.

Here are some defining beliefs of toxic masculinity:
-Interactions between men and women must be competitive, not cooperative.
-Men can never truly understand women, and men and women cannot be just friends.
-That REAL men need to be strong and showing emotions is a sign of weakness, unless the emotion is anger.
-That men can never be victims of abuse, and talking about it is shameful.
-That REAL men always want sex and are ready for it at any time.
-That REAL men solve their problems with violence.
-The idea that any interest in things that are considered “feminine” would be emasculating for a guy.

First of all, not all men have Toxic Masculinity. No one is or has ever suggested that. However, pretty much everyone is impacted by Toxic Masculinity. Men and women alike.

A lot of socializing went into the development of Toxic Masculinity. Men don’t start out toxic, and not all men become toxic. Are these men just a product of their environment? Perhaps. But this socializing has lead to a drastic problem that needs to be addressed. It doesn’t really matter which came first, the toxic man or the toxic environment, because the problem exists in both people and environment and needs to be addressed overall. Maybe you aren’t aware of your behavior, maybe you are just doing what you were taught, but either way there is a Toxic Masculinity problem that is affecting women AND men in a very negative way.

In my mind, I would almost think that defining Toxic Masculinity and pointing out the characteristics and how it hurts MEN would be a relief for men. It’s a growing understanding that societal pressures are just as high and damaging to men as they are to women. Suicide rates are high in men, and that is not a coincidence. Basically what we are saying is Hey, #MeToo wasn’t just about women, this behavior negatively affects you too. Bullying, boys will be boys, swallow your emotions, treating women like objects, that isn’t good for men either. Toxic Masculinity isn’t a woman’s problem, it isn’t a man’s problem, it’s a human problem.

Acknowledging that there is a problem, that men need to be better, is not admission of guilty behavior. Being part of the solution doesn’t mean you need to be a drastic part of the problem. But being complacent in this issue is contributing to the problem. Standing by and watching a problem persist and doing nothing because it doesn’t directly affect you is contributing to the problem.

It’s time for all of us to reflect on how we can be part of the solution. Bullying does not need to be a normal part of society, sexual harassment does not need to be a socially acceptable thing. We could all make little changes that would completely shift the dynamic. And the biggest thing we can all do is lead by example. We need to be allies for each other now.

So what can you do to be part of the solution?

 

-Darci

A Self-Care Reminder for the Holidays 

Holidays bring a lot of happy celebrations. From Christmas parties, to presents, to caroling, to the hope of snow there is a lot of joy and magic during this time of year. But the holidays can also be full of struggle. Just because there is cheer all around us doesn’t mean all of our problems disappear. The holidays also bring lots of temptations that can get in the way of our long term goals, like health and financial goals. And with the stress and the struggles can come a lot of guilt for not being cheerful enough.

So this year, amidst all the joy and holiday cheer, it’s important to be mindful and intentional about yourself. Here is a checklist to help plan your self-care:

Take Care of Yourself
With all of the holiday parties and events and family time and friend time, this time of year books up fast. Don’t forget to carve out time for you. Take your moment, your evening, your day, to just be. It’s important to decompress. Seek out a quiet space from time to time so that you can collect your thoughts and recenter yourself as you need. Take a walk around your neighborhood, enjoy a luxurious bath, find a show to enjoy. The important part is that you still get you time.

Be Mindful About Alcohol Use 
I am not someone who drinks terribly often, so the holidays hit me hard. With all of the gatherings and parties, with all of the holiday stresses, a glass of wine to take the edge off or join in the celebration is very tempting. And suddenly my one glass of wine translates into a glass of wine every day. So it’s important to be mindful and aware of your consumption during this time. Pick a personal limit, find an event to skip the drinks at, and check in with yourself before your next drink.

Practice a Healthy Relationship with Food
There are many tempting indulgences during the holiday season. From an abundance of sugar, to larger portions, to decadent meals, food can take as much a toll as alcohol and make you feel out of control. Find the balance for yourself between enjoying the special holiday food while also paying attention to your bodies needs. I love all the fun holiday food, and I only indulge in most of these things once a year. It’s not about denying or depriving, it’s about balance.For me, being hyper intentional during the work day about eating good things, and being more intentional with a healthy breakfast on the weekends can really make a big difference in my holiday relationship with food. Find your balance, and don’t forget that your body still needs some vegetables.

Remember, Holiday Stress Will Pass
Just like all things, this too shall pass. Keeping a strong sense of self during the holiday season will give you a sense of consistency and security during the ups and downs during the holidays. Focus on the things you enjoy, breathe through the things you don’t, and remember that this holiday season will eventually come to a close.

 

As always, be kind to yourself. Happy Holidays!

 

-Darci