falling is not failing

by Joanna on July 18, 2012

Last night I went to my favorite yoga class and during the balance track, I was reminded of something I’ve been wanting to share for a while.

It must’ve been a year and half ago that I heard this phrase during a balance pose. It brought tears to my eyes that first time because of the pure truth of it.  And it’s stuck with me ever since.

Falling is not failing.

Falling is not failing.

Though the balance poses are seemingly simple and don’t require much physical strength or stamina, they can be very challenging.  Sometimes you’ll lose balance or focus and start to wobble a little bit but catch yourself.  Other times, you’ll topple over and touch the ground.  But if you keep at it, you’ll find your way.

But touching down on the ground is not failure.  It means you pushed yourself, it means you tried.  If you didn’t try, you couldn’t fall. If you didn’t try at all, you wouldn’t find the pose.

In life, we all fall sometimes. But when we do, it’s important to remember that falling is not failing.

When it comes to my career I toppled over quite a bit on the way to finding my balance.

For as long as I can remember I wanted to be a teacher.  I taught right out of undergrad and lasted three months. My life long dream of changing the world one child at a time lasted all of three months.  I couldn’t do it. I quit before Thanksgiving of my first year.

I started at my current job in the development office of a university here in DC shortly after.  Within six months, cubicle life started to weigh on me. While I enjoyed my job and the people around me, I knew I wasn’t doing what I was supposed to be doing and I was constantly on a search to figure out what I was going to “be.” Part of me still couldn’t believe that I wasn’t a teacher.

Though I never wanted to go back to teaching, teaching/educating/inspiring people was an integral part of me. I explored options within my current field while at the same time taking classes with my tuition benefit. I started down the path to become a career counselor and finished a group of courses on the subject.  I applied for a Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. I didn’t get in.  While of course it stung to get rejected, part of me was relieved.

But I was stumped.  Now what? Over the next year or so I grappled with what to do. I decided I’d try a course in the business school. I always thought an MBA would be practical and that I’d be interested in it.  It’s versatile.  Why not? I was able to take a class without being admitted into the program so I dipped my toe in the water with a course on organizations and leadership. While I thought the course was interesting when class was in session, it was literally like pulling teeth to get me to start on assignments. I felt an overwhelming amount of stress from one class that was really not that difficult.  Something about it just didn’t sit right with me.  When I decided to drop the class I’d enrolled in for the second half of the semester, I was immensely relieved.  Huge weight off my shoulders.

And now, after falling a handful of times over the last four years, I’ve finally found the right fit: I am a life coach.  Now that I’ve found it, it makes complete sense.  All of the things I tried up to this point had aspects of coaching in it but none were exactly what I wanted. And so, after a while, I’d topple.

But not now.  Not this time. With life coaching, it’s like I’m beaming in star pose.  This feels completely right.  I start my formal training next weekend and I couldn’t be more excited.  I’ve already done a bunch of lengthy assignments for the program and while they were challenging, they never felt like work.

It wasn’t easy to get here.  In front of family, friends, and co-workers, it seemed like I toppled over arms flailing again and again. I fell so many times.

But you know how it feels when you finally nail a pose–like crow pose or something–and though you’re scared to death that you might fall flat on your head if you lose balance, when you find yourself holding the pose, even for five seconds, there’s that elation, that feeling of pure bliss, like wow. You know it?


Yeah, that’s what this feels like.

So no matter what you’re trying to figure out, whether it’s a career or a significant other or a new recipe or a new way with money or whatever, remember falling is not failing.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jordan July 18, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Really great post! It’s funny how relevant this is for me because I just told a friend I’d go to a yoga class tomorrow and yoga is literally the one class that makes me feel super uncomfortable with myself (I have NO balance.) I always feel like that I’m that one person that everyone is staring at because I’m falling over so much and so I usually don’t go because I feel like such an idiot; which ironically is how I feel like my day is going today in all aspects of life. I need to hit the reset button and start today all over! Woosah…”falling is not failing” will have to be my mantra for the next two days. Thanks for the reminder!


2 Jacquelyn July 18, 2012 at 11:02 pm

Beautiful! I feel like this all the time. I am in a field I love, but not necessarily my dream job. I too thought I would be a teacher but after having watched my mom struggle with, not the teaching, but the bull that comes along with it I realized that’s not me. So I went into teaching college while getting my Masters and I loved it… only problem is it doesn’t pay the bills. And that’s how I ended up working for Macmillan Higher Education where I sell college textbooks. I absolutely love working in higher education and publishing but this kind of sales isn’t quite my cup of tea. I’m loving it while I have it because I am ridiculously grateful to have any kind of job right now!
Life coaching sounds amazing! It’s something I thought about for a bit since I seem good at giving advice but not always following it 😉 People who follow my advice seem to do well though so maybe I should consider listening to myself more often. I’d love to hear more about this!
Finally, I’ll end with the best piece of advice I’ve ever received: I took a semester off of college the fall semester of my senior year. I hit a wall and had a panic attack not knowing what to do with my life. I was an English major and started to wonder if I should change it to secondary education. I stopped going to classes and didn’t tell anyone. When I finally realized I dug a hole too deep to climb out of, I admitted everything to my Dad. He looked at me and said “Jacquelyn, I’m 43 and still don’t know what I want to do with my life.” It calmed me down so much and made me realize that not all of life’s decisions can be made at one time. And that we place too much pressure on high school and college students to decide their entire life at such a young age. Good for you for finding your passion!


3 Dana July 24, 2012 at 2:27 pm

Amazing post! I have just started my life in the real world and it is tough! I take comfort in the fact that so many others are struggling/have struggled the way I am now. It must be an amazing feeling to find your path and I hope it happens to me someday.


4 Joanna July 24, 2012 at 2:38 pm

You will find your way! Just give it time. Try new things. Don’t be afraid to change directions. Believe in yourself and the power of your dreams. And if you ever have questions or need a little encouragement, don’t hesitate to ask!


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