The year was 1996…
I had just moved up to Berkeley to start my first year as a student at UC Berkeley. I was OBSESSED with Sarah McLachlan’s album Fumbling Towards Ecstacy. And I was ready to give college my all.
Except I wasn’t.
Because I was really, truly, exhausted and broken. I had spent my entire youth fighting for a normal that didn’t exist, trying to make sense of a world that honestly didn’t. It was after church wound #<I Lost Count>, and I was “Done.”
I felt like a failure, but I just kept fighting against it all. I was always a scrappy fighter, after all.
And I kept trying to see my failures as a battle. As some claim on my identity. So everything seemed so impossible and daunting and like something I had to *win* or *overcome.*
So I got into my dorm. With the heroin addict raver and the party-girl sorority sister who kept bringing her boyfriend back to the room to have sex. And though I was well capable to do the coursework, I was fresh out of shits to give. I went to my English class and picked a fight with the tenured professor for being banal. I passed my environmental science class because… it was a lot of walking around? I got rejected for the accapella singing group, which crushed my dreams of ever being the voice for a Disney animated film.
I lost heart. I lost hope.
And I completely bombed. It was almost spectacular how much I bombed. I mean, became a drug addict and entrepreneur while blowing through a hefty trust fund in any attempt to blitzkrieg my mind. So my report card? Those UCB transcripts?
F. F. F. C (happy Environmental Science)… and a couple withdraws from the next semester. Because really, once you’ve failed an entire semester, who *doesn’t* register for the next one!
I was never going to be an English professor, and I was never going to be a Disney voice.
So what now?
I failed even harder, figuring if I was going to lose, I would *win* at losing. I got into an abusive relationship, and literally blew my life up. The recovery from that period of my life has *literally* spanned decades.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Because it cleared the decks. It was like that polaroid that never develops, and you have to just remember. It was like the spill on the canvas that makes you start from scratch. It was like being planted so deep in the ground that there was no way I wouldn’t grow into a mighty Oak tree.
You see, sometimes our failures are small. We can learn from them the smaller lessons – try differently next time.
Sometimes our failures are epically big. Like PTSD inducing, life-altering, the whole world changed because this thing happened.
But no matter what… as long as we remember that *WE* are not the failure… they are opportunities for being planted.
Sometimes I think about just how deep a hole I dug for myself.
And then I realize that it is this priceless gift. Because it gave me deeper roots than I ever could have had otherwise. I was planted every bit as much by my failure as I was by my success.
And so are you, my beloved. So are you.
Because you are not a failure.
You. Are. A. Seed.
When we allow our failures to become the holes that we’ve prepared to plant ourselves, they lose the power to make us afraid or overwhelmed. We can instead envision the garden of our lives that is destined to grow.