Finding Yourself through Failure


My house is a wreck. Like “I’m running out of clean dishes” wreck. It’s 10:30am, and I still haven’t eaten anything–just drinking lots of coffee. The tv is on, and I’ve been wasting time on my phone. I’ve got on clean clothes but need a shower. I’m being lazy and procrastinating.

The dishes! They taunt me. The sheer number that I must wash one by one. (Alas, I have no dishwasher!) It feels like I will never catch up, so I just put it off.

Sometimes I feel like dishes end up being my primary job, and I think, “I have a BA in English, and yet my job is to wash dishes!” Then I feel like a failure. I can’t even use the degree I worked for.

For a while, the future seemed so bright. I was a college graduate working on my Master’s, surrounded by friends and intellectuals. And now–dishes.

My husband tells me about the college classes he teaches, and I think about what I would do if I were teaching. Then I remember that I didn’t finish my MA; I’m not qualified to teach a class. Failure. So much failure.

It’s not because I didn’t try. For a while I did it all, but depression took it all away. I made some bad choices, yes, but ultimately I was overwhelmed by the stress, and my brain shut down. I could read words, but they meant nothing. I couldn’t write because I couldn’t filter my thoughts. I became obsessive about outlining and anxious about composing.

On the one hand, depression has taken so much away from me. I feel like I have failed at so much. But the truth is that failure builds character. It molds you into the person you are always becoming.

I have faced a lot of defeat, and finding my identity has been a struggle. I tried to be a perfect pastor’s kid, I tried to be in a sorority, I tried to fit in with my hometown’s values, I tried to be an intellectual (twice!), I tried to be an artist, I tried to be an agnostic–the list goes on. But everything I’ve tried and failed at has shaped me. I know what it’s like to feel the pressure of the spotlight, I know what it’s like to not belong, I know what it’s like to fear rejection, I know what it’s like to lose your purpose, I know what it’s like to feel talentless, I know what it’s like to feel unsure. This list goes on, too.

All these things I know, I’ve experienced, and they’ve made me a better person. I like being a nerd, a liberal, a Christian, the wife of an intellectual, the mother of a free spirited daughter. I like living in the pacific northwest and the few friends I have here. And none of this might have happened without depression. Finding out who you are is difficult and constant, but it is also incredible.

Now I’ve been writing for an hour and a half, and the dishes are still staring at me, but I don’t feel like a failure anymore. Dishes aren’t my job–they’re my task. Failure is not Lord over me–it is a tool I use to grow. I am more than my depression, but I am also more because of it.


One thought on “Finding Yourself through Failure

  1. Laura Grace, these are all lovely and wonderful and hard and devastating. Thank you so much for sharing your life and your self–this is important work you’re doing.
    Being a fellow-traveler in depression (mine is Bi-Polar Depression), there is much I can relate to, and your counsel and descriptions are spot-on. Keep writing, keep loving, keep reaching out. Remember who you are in Christ. Praying for you, dear Sister. 🙂 sdo

    Liked by 1 person

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