When the world comes crashing down on your head, the absolute first thing we always want to do is make it go away. And can you blame us? It sucks – why on earth would we want to keep it around?
Particularly any reminders of it. Get rid of those too. Get rid of everything to do with the mistakes, the shame, the bad luck, whatever it is, and let’s get on with life and try to pretend it didn’t happen.
But I’m slowly learning the grace that can come from honouring the crap that happens in life.
My own reminder
This year, I’ve managed to accumulate some debt. Not a whole lot – less than a thousand – but enough that it annoys me. I think more than anything though, the thing that bothered me about this debt was that it was a reminder of the mistakes I’d made to get myself into debt.
And not “Oops, I went on a $500 shopping spree” kind of mistakes. Mistakes wherein I forgot myself, and tried to fit into the mould. I took some business risks that were not in alignment with me (unless my ego counts) and I had been regretting them, or at least, attempting to make peace with them.
So this monthly statement, this monthly reminder, of my mistakes? It was starting to rub me the wrong way. It was a reminder of falling down, and I just wanted it to go away already. However because I’m living on my own now and have increased expenses elsewhere, I can make the minimum payments, but I’ve been unable to pay off large chunks of it.
So it’s just been sitting there, mocking me. And I’ll be honest – I wanted nothing to do with it.
Wishing it would go away
There’s been a secret part of me that’s been wishing for some kind of financial windfall where I could just pay it all off and forget about it. And if you’re hoping for that, you’re not paying a whole lot of attention to actually paying the thing off in steady increments.
And more than the actual number itself, it’s the shame that’s attached to it that’s really been burning me up. I just couldn’t even look at my statement, because it felt like such a slap in the face. Me and my stupid mistakes, I’d think. Me and my lack of backbone. Me and my stupid ego. Grumble grumble grumble.
So I’ve been putting a lot of energy into reframing my debt, and reframing my shame. Because I couldn’t take this self-inflicted stalemate any longer.
And that’s when I realized something.
The debt isn’t a sign of my shame
It’s a sign of my strength. Sure, I made some mistakes, but I learned a lot of really, really important lessons from those mistakes.
I learned how to be strong. I learned what I wanted and what I didn’t want. I learned where I wanted to go and where I didn’t want to go. I learned about my own creativity and how to have a better relationship with it. I learned how I really wanted to run my business. I learned a whole helluva lot about me.
So my debt is something I want to honour – it’s a symbol of the mistakes I made to gain the wisdom that I have now. It’s something I want to respect, as a symbol of the backbone I’m learning to grow.
Sure, I may have completely faceplanted it. But if I hadn’t faceplanted it, I’d still be running around making the same mistakes as I was before. I wouldn’t have learned anything, I wouldn’t have grown at all. And this isn’t about forced gratitude (ew). I really had to work to get to this place. I really had to gain some perspective before I could see all of my mistakes as learning experiences instead of just “Oh my god, what was I thinking?!”
But now that I’m here, the last thing I want to do is ignore my debt and shove it out the window. I want to thank it for reminding me of the lessons I learned the hard way. (Which really, isn’t that the best way sometimes?)
It’s here to show me that yeah, I faceplanted it. But I lived. I got back up, dusted myself off, and made damned sure I learned my lessons. And that’s nothing to be ashamed of.