Last year, a business I started, a food magazine, collapsed and closed. It was my lack of entrepreneurial understanding, inexperience, and bad timing that brought things to such an untimely and untidy end. As a result, I nearly had to declare bankruptcy. I managed to negotiate payouts with the lenders and pay them in increments. The pain of failure stemmed in large part from having to let go of my employees (of which there were two) and sub-contractors (of which there were hundreds). That pain was magnified by the fact that some of these people were my friends.
In the midst of such a colossal financial and emotional collapse, I turned inward — absolutely terrified to face the world. So I withdrew. I took myself off of social media, and limited my social engagements. I concentrated instead on learning to like myself again … to find ways to identify myself as more than just the business that failed. I spent time with my family; Bringing my attention back to them was very grounding. I went back to doing research work, a profession I’ve been doing for a long time and found that there was a deep sense of comfort in its routine and familiarity. I focused on my marriage, which took a toll from the magazine, and found new ways to reconnect. And I think the most important thing of all is that I took the time to forgive myself.
Success is not final. Failure is not fatal; It is the courage to continue that counts.
Forgiving myself was a difficult thing. Quite often the guilt of what “could have” was the biggest block. This self-blame wound its head in every memory until even the happy ones are tainted with the bitter taste of regret. But what was is what was. No amount of guilt can shift the past. I had to accept this and try to move forward in courage.
I realize now that the magazine, for however much I identified with it, was a business. But it was so difficult to separate myself from something I created. At the magazine’s conception, I equated it to having another child. It certainly felt like that, and was one of the reasons why I held on for as long as I did. I should have heeded the warning signs and started closing things down sooner than I did, but instead I forged on with unrelenting optimism, thinking that positivity can manifest the cash needed to keep the ball rolling. And if positivity wasn’t enough, surely loans will suffice. And when loans weren’t enough, my 401k was a good substitute. I lost myself within the identity of the magazine, thinking that its success was vital to my existence, forgetting that I was someone before it started, and will continue to be someone after it closed.
I am whole. I forgot that simple fact. I forgot that the sense of brokenness was only ever in my mind, even when I felt wounded and raw from the experience. I rather admire the 29 year old that decided to leap against the odds and start such a incredible endeavor. This failure will most likely not be my first because I am worthy of daring greatly again. And to dare is to invite failure, but it also invites curiosity and a sense of achievement even if it doesn’t take flight. I don’t know where this blog will lead, or what I am going to do next out in the world but I am here: big-hearted and hopeful to venture back out to the world with renewed courage, holding my experience like a badge against my heart.
Thank you for joining me.