It’s the end of December, and so another year comes to a close. I know many of you cannot WAIT to say goodbye to this momentous year and sail off into a new one.
Weirdly, for me, 2020 was actually a year of triumphs.
An astonishing number of things I’ve been working on for yeeearrrssss finally came to fruition this past year. If you’ve been reading these missives, you know the highlights: we moved from bleak prairie suburbs to a magical green island, I bought my first house at age 43, finally published the memoir it took me ten years to write, then published a children’s book. If you’re in RichJuicyStarryBeauty, my inner circle community, you know that eeeeeven more big things (both triumphant and difficult) went down in 2020 than I’ve shared publicly.
But I really want to tell you about the year I had before this one. Because I’m pretty sure it was that brutal, hard year that gave birth to this epic one.
You see, 2019 was a year of many, many failures.
Don’t you wish people shared that part more?!?!? I do!
In the personal dev world we like to TALK a lot about failing. How great it is, how we should all be doing it, how it builds character etc– and yet we never REALLY hear about people’s actual fails until years later. Usually only once they’re wildly successful, and then those stories seem like quaint, unbelievable anecdotes. There’s no sting to them, because you know the end of the story. (And to prove this true, here I am waiting a full year to share my own. Read to the end if you crave the whole messy story as it unfolds.)
When you’re living through the fails, and the end of the story is still unwritten, they can feel devastating. They can feel like reason to stop. They can feel like the universe telling you that you’re on the wrong path, or doing something wrong, or like you’re embarrassing. But I do think it really is true that successful people really do truly actually honestly fail more– they just don’t talk about it.
Every time I share something squirmy, someone writes to tell me that my vulnerability made you feel BETTER. Like you’re ok. If I feel this lost and confused, it means that there’s nothing wrong with you when you feel like that too. (There isn’t, dearheart! Especially this year. It’s just life! It’s a fucking mess! It’s a glory of gorgeousness! Both!)
We are so used to hearing only the highlights of peoples’ lives that we can start to think that that’s the whole story. BUT IT NEVER IS.
So I want to share with you my best fails of 2019. I walked my talk that year, trying new things, putting things out there, taking risks, doing scary things, and I thought you should know that MOSTLY I got “nos” in response. These were sometimes disappointing, sometimes devastating, sometimes funny.
Here’s a list, in no particular order, of places I pitched myself in 2019 who turned me down:
O, the Oprah Magazine
South by Southwest
The Alberta Arts Council for a grant
World Domination Summit
Alt Summit (they accepted our joint talk, and Nick’s individual talk, but not my individual one)
12+ personally pitched literary agents
9 film festivals, including Sundance
32 brands we pitched a collaborative project to
a mortgage broker
4 tv stations
2 radio stations
the Modern Love column
At least 7 interviews (radio, podcast, video series) that we recorded but JUST NEVER AIRED?!?!?
3 coaching offers that bombed
2 international postal packages returned with no explanation
1 pan of charred bacon
and a partridge in a pear tree! (ok, actually, a beautiful jasmine plant that I killed)
So there you have it!!!! That’s a lot of failures for one year!!!
Like seriously. Holy shit. Whoah. And that doesn’t even touch my parenting fails or things I said to my husband that I reeeallly wish I could take back.
And yet?!?!? Reading that list?!?!?! I want to laugh.
It’s so hilarious! It’s so human! Life is just so RIDICULOUS sometimes!!!
And to keep it all in perspective, that was still the year in which we completed a documentary, went to a major film festival, won an award for our very first film, went on live TV, and got a mostly-free trip to the Bahamas. I went horse whispering twice, spoke in Marfa at a conference with a bunch of creatives about energy and magic, and visited the most magical green island on the planet (ahem, foreshadowing) and felt my SOUL fill up. I came out of a dark night of the soul and found my footing again. Oh my goodness! What a great year!
2019 was a year of failure. And yet I came out of it more strong, hopeful, excited, vibrant, and FULL OF BEANS than I had felt in years.
I was so proud of myself for trying so many things and failing so hard that I could feel I had shifted my own energy.
I could feel that something new was coming. Something good. Something juicy.
And oh, it did– for all its heartbreak and disruption, 2020 was also the year in which my life changed forever. Finally sharing my memoir brought me peace. Publishing it myself was an initiation and a reclaiming. Creating the RichJuicyStarryBeauty community grounded and lifted me. Our new home floods me with nurturing, magical energy. I am beyond grateful for this year and all it has brought.
But before I could have the year of triumph, I had the year of failure.
They are, in some way I don’t fully understand yet, intimately connected.
At the end of 2019, there were no signs that 2020 would bring such good things. (And in fact, at first it looked like 2020 was only full of terrible things.) But I just kept steering, and that is the key.
That’s how you make it out triumphant: you keep steering your way through, failing and failing, trying again, getting lost and then getting back on the path, keeping your eyes on where you want to go– no matter how unlikely it seems.
You build muscle in the seasons of failure. And it turns out that those muscles help you steer the thrilling but sometimes overwhelming waters when things suddenly reach a tipping point and you’re not failing any more.
My best tool for steering through life, no matter how choppy or glorious the waters?
and it’s yours that way too.
Dream big. Dream bright.
Keep steering, no matter how dark the night.
And write down all your failures like the glorious mortifying rich treasure they are, dearheart. You never how close you are to turning them into gold.
P.S. I shared this list of failures (plus some juicy personal morsels I edited out of this version) with my RichJuicyStarryBeauty beloveds a full YEAR ago. I’d love for you to join us there, where I share more intimately, in real time, about everything going on behind the scenes. And, when you join us, you get instant access to one of my most powerful tools– the compass to help you steer this coming year and beyond. Join us here.