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Being okay with the mess: Not ‘failure’, but lessons.

Just a few short weeks ago in early 2016, we as Lumi gathered together for the first time face-to-face in over 6 months. We got together to talk about what Lumi means, what we want to actually offer to women, and how to do that in a way that is true to us and what we want to achieve. Within these discussions, what soon became clear for us is this: we want women not to fear or hold themselves back from things that they are capable of or opportunities that come their way. We realised after much chatting that we believe that one of the biggest fears holding women back is the fear of failure.

But why do we call it ‘failure’? Who or what tells us that we have ‘failed’? What if we instead called our mistakes – lessons?

Lessons are different. They teach us things and they help us to grow. They can still hurt, still be frustrating, still make us disappointed – but they often make us better. For sure, we at Lumi wouldn’t to be who we are today if we didn’t have our own lessons that we have learned and continue to learn. Those things we’ve gotten wrong (so. many. things!), those hard words said to us, those relationships that have not lasted, those things that have hurt, those ideas that were rejected…they have taught us so many lessons. In fact, they are still teaching us so many lessons.

Life is not meant to be an exercise of ticking boxes within your comfort zone. Does this life push boundaries? Does it open up opportunities? See, being afraid of ‘failure’ will prevent you from seeing, taking and experiencing all the possibilities that may already be around you. Yet, being willing to be taught lessons and giving yourself the personal, social, and spiritual room to ‘make mistakes’ opens up your eyes and heart to a world that is – although imperfect – possible. You reaching your goals and even dreams is possible if you’re not afraid to fall and skin your knees from a few hurdles in the race. But if you want your dress to stay ironed, hair perfectly intact and heels firmly on at all times – where’s the room for making a little mess?

Think of a child learning to walk. Do they do it right the first, second or tenth time? No. But do they give up? Nup. They keep trying and falling over and trying and falling over, but eventually they get it. It is only as we grow older that we think this falling – which sometimes means making a mess of things – is a sign that we should stop. But this is not failure – we weren’t born like this and we aren’t meant to be like this. Yet in the stage between learning to walk and being a member of society, we pull ourselves back for fear of falling. Making a mess. Does this lead to a fulfilling life? A life of would have should have could have?

We’ve – the three of us – have made a lot of mess. We have skinned many knees and ripped several dresses (literally and metaphorically!!) in our journey at Lumi as well as each of us personally (Cat even ripped her Wedding Dress 4 days before her wedding)! Failure?…Or lessons?

We’d like to say ‘we wouldn’t have it any other way – we love the mess!’ – but to be honest, that at times would be a lie. Sometimes we want life a certain way – we want it to be clean and not messy and the dinner table set every night. We want to not fall and hurt ourselves, but life isn’t like that. Little children don’t get walking right on the first go, but they are inherently determined to succeed. So why should we lose that determination in adulthood?

What if we were okay with the somewhat messiness of it all. With the trip ups and stumbles and tiptoe steps?

Firstly, it would mean we forgive ourselves. That we don’t beat ourselves up about our lessons, but we pull ourselves up (sometimes using a helping hand) and go for it again, maybe in a different way.

Secondly, it would mean that we stop attempting to lead and appear to lead a ‘perfect’ life. Perfection doesn’t allow for falling, which is why it’s impossible. So why bother pretending? Life isn’t perfect and neither are we, but our journey is, so embrace it.

Thirdly, we can live with less guilt, which is a key ingredient of freedom. If we don’t let ourselves feel that sick feeling at the pit of our stomach after saying the wrong thing, clicking the wrong box, going on the wrong date or not meeting a deadline, then how much freer would we be to look to the future and actually work towards getting things right? Paradoxically – accepting our mistakes fast could actually help us make less mistakes in the future.

If we are more free and open to making mistakes – we allow ourselves to be okay with the ‘messy’ table, with the stumbles and falls. And embracing this actually helps us to build towards being at a cleaner table in the future – or better, a more dynamic, savvy and insightful table. Would you want to sit at that table?

Let’s bring back the mess. Let’s appreciate that we are human beings and we are not perfect, but through our mistakes, we learn lessons that guide us to walking towards the right table.

So what table are you walking towards? It is perfectly pressed and impeccably set up? Is there room for a little mess?

Embrace your spillage. It could just be the lesson you need to open your eyes to that incredible future that lies outside perfection.

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