I just found myself sitting on the couch, watching my son stick his tush in the air. He’s up on all-fours, grunting with determination… He is inches, if not centimeters, away from crawling. He has been stuck in this lull for a couple of months now, and I catch myself every day saying, “today will be THE day you crawl! C’mon, keep it up… you can do it! Don’t give up.”
My parents were visiting over the Thanksgiving holiday, and they were convinced that he would be running laps around the house before they went home last Sunday. It did not happen. I just caught myself saying this on repeat to my son, and I stopped. I stopped and thought about all of instances in life where I feel I am failing and where I am tempted to throw in the towel and quit trying. So many times I catch myself trying to succeed at a task, whether it is baking from scratch without setting off the fire alarm or finding a way to earn income as a freelancer, and I am tempted to give up after being met with resistance or what appears to be failure.

Back in my past, failure was NOT an option. If I struggled, I worked harder; if I thought I could not, I would find a way to find my internal “you can do it” and persevere. Life has gotten in the way in more way than one. My successful management career was derailed by the failed housing market, and my last job ended up in dismissal when I was nearing my third trimester of pregnancy (yes, sexism is alive and well in corporate America. That’s for another time.) On more occasions than my husband would like to admit, he finds me crying on the couch or in the bedroom and I am lamenting that I cannot succeed, and that I am a failure.
When the stresses of not succeeding are not overwhelming my sense of self, I realize I am ridiculous. I have an amazing son, a nice home, and for the time being I am at home with my child 24/7. I have an education- a Masters degree, even- and despite that fact that does not seem like an accomplishment at this point, I have to think that I went that distance for a reason, even if it is not visible at this juncture. Lately, I have been working on starting a marketing business from my home. I have years of experience, I learn quickly and I want to write my own success story. Day after day, I check my business email address (I’m so fancy), I log into my AdWords account, and I check any other statistical site that might show my impending millions of revenue… nothing yet.
I usually get frustrated, feel slighted… a bit overwhelmed. The urge to give up and have a pity party takes over and my anxiety levels skyrocket. I imagine feeling the sense of failure as I walk out the front door to another dead-end job that surely awaits me. I dread this day, and I pray it does not happen.
I pick my head up (just as my son is now, swaying back and forth on his knees), and tell myself that I will find a way. I will not fail, and I will find a way to succeed at backing that pie, and earning that income. If only there were a way to emboss a mantra to one’s soul that was always flashing, even during the darkest hours of self-doubt, “you can do it! Don’t give up! Believe in yourself. You can, and you WILL, do it.” Images in my mind create a compilation between “The Secret” and a token college graduation speech where the newest class is promised that they can accomplish whatever they want, as long as they work hard. I remember that speech, and the feeling in the pit of my stomach that followed. The excitement, vigor and determination to accomplish all that I wanted to do in this life.

Where did this luster go? Was it taken away over time, by blow-after-blow from the corporate world?

Was it losing in the stock market and seeing a nice savings account dwindle down to almost nothing? Where in the course of life did my subconscious decide that these figures are how to judge success? So, I might not have the luxury car and downtown condo that I once owned any longer, but I do have a healthy son who I love more than anything, a roof over my head and great friends and family who would do anything for me.
How did life go from loving the moments that matter to dreading ones that might never come? It is truly time, for me, to start taking my own advice. I need to stop doubting myself, stay up on all fours, keep my head held high and listen to the voice that says, “c’mon! You can do it! Today is the day!” I am already learning from my son, and he is so much smarter than he even knows- I have never seen him give up. He found ways to move from point A to point B, even if it involves barrel rolling across the carpet, or screaming at me to pick him up and carry him. As long as he continues to move forward and persevere, it is my duty to do the same.