Typically, meetings are not my thing. I really don't see the point in spending an entire hour or more chatting about something that would have taken me three to five minutes to read in an email. Then when the facilitator wants us to go around the table and introduce ourselves, I literally cringe. No one is going to remember my face and I am almost certain they will not remember my name.
This meeting was no different. We all gathered in the newly renovated conference room and the first thing we were required to do was go around the table and introduce ourselves. *face palm* Do I say my full first name or just the shortened version? What last name do I use? So much to think about just for a measly introduction.
"Hi, I am Minah Banks and I am the...."
"Oh! Minah just had a name change"
"Well, congratulations are in order"
The group in unison, "Congratulations"
It was one of the most awkward moments I have had since I've changed my name thus far and I am hoping that this is as awkward as it will get. The overall assumption: My name changed because I just got married. Really? It's actually the opposite.
I sat there and thanked them with a half-smile and a nod. I'm sure no one really noticed but I was so uneasy. What the hell was I thanking them for? This wasn't want they thought. Do I correct them? I didn't. We moved on. I was relieved beyond belief. I was just so glad they did not continue with all the newlywed rhetoric and the interrogative questioning that comes along with it. "When did you get married? Where? Was it a big wedding? Sheesh.
Honestly, I was ashamed just a little. I felt bad that they were wrong. It was not a celebration. Congratulations were not in order. I literally just lived two and half years of what can be categorized as trauma. That was not a celebratory moment. Or was it? I am not quite sure just yet. For a while I felt like a failure. No one plans on divorce when walking into a marriage. In fact, most decree and declare that divorce is not an option. I did. But, life happened. And that's OK.
No one that I have encountered, aware of my divorce, has made me feel bad for the decisions I made. No one has ever (directly) judged me. And I hadn’t felt any kind of way about it for a while until this whole name change ordeal. Up until this meeting, I thought I had dealt with things pretty well. But after that meeting, pointless meeting might I add, I was reminded that I failed.
Anything we perceive as a failure never feels good, initially. We set goals, some are lofty and for whatever reasons, the outcome sometimes is not what we expected or planned for. Sure, disappointment sets in and we start to feel horrible. We failed and failure sucks. It took some time, a lot of time, for me to come to grips that I should not feel ashamed because I decided to end my marriage. Even though it seems more prevalent now, divorce is actually a profane word to some folks. It's certainly not the most desirable thing to endure. Nonetheless, after I had "done the work", I grabbed a hold of one thing someone said to me and held on to it for dear life. "You did the best you could with what you had". I repeated it several times throughout a day for weeks. I did the best I could with what I had.
After that meeting, I am not sure why I didn’t remember this statement, I meditated on so fervently but I didn’t. The name change and the congratulatory comments served as reminders. Reminders can be used to drag you and prompt those feelings of failure all over again. So, for a few minutes I was there, recalling all the ways in which I failed. But I was determined to use this reminder to emphasize that I did the best that I could with what I had. I was reminded that there is always the chance to try again. I began to recall all of the good things that came from what I once deemed a failure; my kid being the best thing. Ending my marriage has afforded me the liberty of self-discovery. I am now in position where I can pursue my passions again.
Failure is always a learning opportunity. Each day I am learning that failure is nothing but a clear indication that real life is happening. We experience failure frequently. It’s a part of life. And the focus should not be on the failure itself but our response to it. We mustn’t allow our failures, no matter what they be, to define us. They should actually propel us to continue forward. Winston Churchill said it best, “Failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts”.
How do you respond to failure?