When You Utterly Fail At That One Thing You’re Usually Really Good At

I suppose this is a bit of a serious post for a Friday, but it’s been a while since I dug deep into some life lessons. But when I made a cake for our anniversary that was truly a comedy of errors, it got me thinking. I pride myself on baking – it’s “that thing Meghan does” for a party, a work event, etc. It’s the thing that I would do for an income if I had any guts. So when you have a total cake disaster, you feel kind of shitty (excuse my french).

For the record, the bottom is raw.

I won’t go into all the details, but let’s just say… it started with my oven being on “broil” instead of “bake” and it ended with me adding brown sugar to my butter cream icing when I ran out of powdered sugar. Aaaand it looked like this…

Yes, shut up, those are supposed to be hearts. I know.

I think we are all a little familiar with that feeling of totally sucking at something you USUALLY really pride yourself in. It started kind of young for me. I took piano lessons for 13 years, and every February in the Wisconsin snow we would trudge to some distant UW satellite location for me to compete at Federation. I would spend an entire YEAR practicing two songs over and over, hoping to earn the top score, a “Superior.” In order to earn a Gold Cup, you needed 15 points. A “Superior” earned you five points, so in theory, you could get a cup every three years. OH how we coveted the superiors and the gold cups. There was much bliss and happiness UNTIL…the year I earned an “Excellent” which only meant four points. That REALLY THROWS OFF THE GOLD CUP MATH GAME, PEOPLE! And I was devastated. In the end, it actually took pressure off the rest of the years, and in high school I played concertos too which were worth like, eight points each, and I ended up with five gold cups that are now in a box in my mom’s attic, but the POINT is that I felt miserable for “failing” at the one thing you worked your bootay off for.

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Let’s move on to the OTHER thing I really prided myself in during my adolescence: School. I worked hard. I worked many jobs, usually two if not three at a time. I was pretty much straight As and graduated with like a 4.2 (which seems super silly but whatever). All that hard work earned me a full ride to a top-20 school, and I was thrilled. And then I got there. And I failed. Not just once, but over and over and over. I refused to drop out of pre-med, and just kept taking the hits one after another. I’ll never remember having a meltdown during freshman Christmas break because I didn’t want to go back and take the second semester of bio, chem, and calc. I don’t know why I didn’t drop the medicine track then, but I didn’t. And it was a blow to my ego like I had never experienced. I spent the next three years working even HARDER (and eventually dropping premed – but only after practically acing organic chemistry. who does that?) and managed to graduate with a 3.0…barely. And for all that drama, I now have a master’s degree from the same school and a great career track. So wah wah, boo boo, you’re FINE, megster. Just fine.

We’re getting a little long-winded over here so let me get to my point: failing, even at things you’re usually good at, is hard. But it humbles you. And I really believe it’s made me stronger. That said, I still do feel a pang of jealousy towards people who seem to have THAT ONE THING that they rock at. I don’t think I like being a jack-of-all-trades type: Good at baking, but not the best. Good at piano, but not a natural. Good at school, but not without tons of work. Even in my career, which I enjoy, I have been really struggling for about a year: not feeling challenged in some ways but feeling far too challenged in others. Where is the balance? I am just relying on the fact that God calls us to be diligent, patient, and to trust Him. Clearly, things have worked out fine before, and they will again.

So HAVE HEART! Hang tight. If you fail, move on. If you succeed, celebrate!

3 thoughts on “When You Utterly Fail At That One Thing You’re Usually Really Good At

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