Failing Forward, Striving to Be Better Despite Personal Pain

I would like to make another shout out to thank Forrest Bourke for this awesome photo. You can see more of his work as well as support him on Instagram here: @forrest.bourke. His photography is extra special because he shoots on film and develops it himself. After reading this article, shoot on over and check out his work. Thanks Forrest! Okay, story time!

I wake up happy pretty much every day for the last year, but that doesn’t mean I am always happy. Life has a habit of throwing punches at you when you least expect it to, and, no matter how prepared you are, you are never fully prepared for failure, loss, and shit just not going your way.

In our world of perfect lifestyles, positively crafted social media presences, and an over-pursuit of becoming a non-toxic person it’s easy to forget that pain and hardship is a normal human experience.

Maybe that is why it is so difficult to connect with ourselves and others at times. If we deny certain emotions, then we deny ourselves the ability to actually feel how we feel. Maybe being perfect isn’t actually success. Maybe it is our flaws, our follies, and our failures that can bring us closer to each other. So, in that vein, I am going to share something from my heart; I’m going to share with you my Monday night.

Last night was a bit hard for me because of a few things:

  1. I was emotionally drained from a fun weekend at a West Coast Swing convention called Rose City Swing. I got very little sleep, and I believe my social meter was topped out.
  2. I didn’t final in my dance competition on Saturday. I didn’t even make semi-finals despite practicing every day for the last month.
  3. I ran into some difficulty with a client of mine. I didn’t care for the way I was being treated.
  4. I was turned down for a cool opportunity that I was excited for. I was rejected.

And, of course, all of this happened within a short span of time; like dry tinder stacked on top of each other, I was 3 seconds away from catching on fire. Do you ever feel like life punches you in the gut? You know, just a little bit, to see if you will notice. Then, without warning, drop kicks you in the face followed with a couple quick jabs while you are down.

I do. It hurts. And, in those rare times, I start asking myself questions like:

Why me?

What did I do to deserve this?

Should I even continue to push towards the things I want in life?

Should I settle for a life I am only somewhat happy with?

Monday was one of those nights. I honestly and truly felt like giving up on all the things I have been pushing so hard to have manifest in my life. I turned off the light, rolled into a ball on my bed, and started crying. So much emotion, so much pain, and too small a body to hold it all in, so I let it out.

I felt hopeless. And, from these emotions stemmed even darker times from my life, from my past. All of my past memories at one time became a savage voice which sang a lullaby like a siren to pull me deeper into my sadness. Deeper into depression.

And, for a honest second, I thought that maybe I should give up.

Then I heard a different voice:

“Don’t cry to give up. Cry to keep going.”

Eric Thomas

My past is hard to bare at times. Friends lost, cheated on, opportunities crushed, dreams scattered, disappointment, personal failure, rejection after rejection, relationships that didn’t work in the end, countless times looking the fool, people who told me that I couldn’t make it, people who told me that I was wrong, people who told me that I wasn’t worth their time, addiction, and self-destructive habits.

An endless list of my past that I simply cannot forget, so I stoked my fire with the tears that streamed down my face, and I burned it in one direction: forward.

I turned on my phone and I pulled open this video:

I listen to this when I fail. I listen to this when life gets hard.

Sometimes I need to hear someone else’s voice to remind me to keep going. Within this motivational video, I start to see a path through the fog.

I remembered why I was doing everything that I am doing. I remembered all the hard times, and I remembered that they are part of my journey. I remembered that I will not give up, and that all the hard work that I am putting in now is worth it. One particular part always stands out to me:

“I will win or I will die. That is who I am. I have never come across and obstacle that is insurmountable. The world does not barriers it provide unlimited opportunity. If I get knocked down I will get back up and I will be better because of it. Telling me something can’t be done only further ignites my desire to succeed. I know that the road less traveled is difficult but diverting from it was never an option. The only person responsible for my success is me!”

I uncurled my body, and I got on my knees, opening my chest to the heaven as tears continued to stream down my face, different tears now, stronger tears. I cried even harder, and I pushed my pain into power to fuel me forward. All the while, running through my heart and my mind I reminded myself that:

I cannot control nor change my past. Trust me, I have tried, and I have found that it is not possible. Whatever has happened, has already occurred. My past does not define me. My past helped forge me into the man I am today. I am grateful for my past.

I don’t know exactly how long I stayed there crying, but I know I stayed there as long as it took. And, when the tears stopped falling, I wiped them off my face, and I got up.

I cried until I remembered that I am strong and powerful. I cried until I remembered that I will and can achieve the things I want in my life. Yes, the price is high at times and the road gets bumpy, but the journey is worth it.

I left the scene with a renewed vigor to push even harder into my goals, into my dreams, and into becoming a better man.

I want you to know that you are not alone. I want you to know that life will hurt you sometimes. I want you to know that sometimes life will get tough. Of this I am sure you fully understand. I also want you to know that don’t think you should give up.

If you have to cry, cry. Cry to move forward, don’t cry to quit.

I am working my hardest to not give up on me, and, in part, I am doing it for you.

I want to show people that it is possible. Monday was hard, but today, today is a good day. Today is a better day than the day before, and, it is my hope that life continues to challenge me.

Today I am strong. Today I am one step closer to my dreams. Today I am one day closer to becoming a better man.

Much love, as always,

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Austin Hunt

Meet the Author:
Austin Hunt

Austin is the lead writer and creator of Points of Connection. He's been studying dating, relationships, and how to build authentic intimacy for over 9 years now. You can find him sipping away at a cup of coffee at a local shop making friends with the stranger next to him.