On Resolutions and Failure

Here’s to everyone who decides to make resolutions to better themselves for each New Year, knowing that the last year might not have worked out entirely as planned, but forging ahead nonetheless! The easy path lies with cynicism and ennui; so much better to criticize those who try and fail, so sensible not to bother trying. Bah. To hell with them.

I read about how the millions of us struggling with weight have more reason than ever to give up trying, and the backlash is growing against those deluded and foolhardy enough to resist everything nature throws at us to keep us heavy. Yes, weight loss as a de facto goal is ridiculous, often fueled by unrealistic, unhealthy, and manipulative media-crafted ideals.

The message that we’re ugly and unwanted unless we buy the “skinny jeans” is old news, and it’s becoming more transparently crass and easier to dismiss every year. Body type is one of a multitude of diversities that should be celebrated (or at least tolerated) instead of being marginalized in our society, and I believe we’re finally starting to recognize this.

If, however, someone wants lose weight in a balanced, healthy, way, fully aware of the gargantuan challenge they face, why knock them? Success is a real possibility for some, and failure might not be such a bad thing for the rest, if taken in the correct way. I’ve tried and failed at more things more times than anyone I know, and yet I’m dumb enough to keep trying.

I’ve learned to love failing, in a way. I don’t believe the trope that there’s a certain age when we need to realize our true place, the one where we can’t achieve our childhood dreams, in which we settle into the confines of our tiny, safe, banal “reality” for the rest of our lives.

It’s a new year, and I want to write some cheesy-but-entertaining short stories and/or a book, release an album of cheesy-but-entertaining electronic music, lose a bunch of weight, and keep it off. I resolved to do all of this last year, too, and failed. I’m 42 and frumpy, well past our society’s purported prime. Still, I have something to show for my failures – for trying and believing – and I’m not backing down.

Through the 365 days of anguish, triumph, and just “meh” that was 2011, I have precious words that would have otherwise remained unwritten, I have a few killer hooks to build upon with a more solid foundation in music theory, and I ended the year a bit lighter than I started it. With these failures, I look back at a few of my other ones over the years and find that after many attempts, eventually…

  • I lost 180 lbs. and have kept 120+ of it off for over 10 years,
  • I am now saving a percent of income for each year I’ve been alive, on track to get to 50% by the time I’m 50,
  • I live debt-free in a paid-off home,
  • I completely changed careers and found my true calling as a teacher,
  • I went back to school to complete my Bachelor’s Degree, a decade after dropping out (for the second time), graduating with a 4.0 average, and
  • I’ve found someone amazing to share my life with, with whom I’ll be celebrating a 10th anniversary this year

Trying, failing, failing, failing, and sometimes succeeding. It’s what a well-lived life is really for.

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