failure and living well

I was flipping through the May 2010 issue of Oprah Magazine last night (Yes, I read it. No, I’m not embarrassed about that.) And I came across this article all about failure and living well, written by Elizabeth Gilbert, who wrote “Eat, Pray, Love” and “Committed.”

The whole piece is a great, quick read that I think every woman should read. Click here for the full article.

Here’s an excerpt:

By all rights, every one of these clever, inventive women should be radiant with self-satisfaction. Instead, they twitch with near-constant doubt, somehow worrying that they are failing at life…(And) all of them worry that they need to lose 10 pounds.

It’s terribly frustrating for me to witness this endless second-guessing. The problem is, I do it, too. Despite having written five books, I worry that I have not written the right kinds of books, or that perhaps I have dedicated too much of my life to writing, and have therefore neglected other aspects of my being. (Like, I could really stand to lose 10 pounds.)

So here’s what I want to know: Can we lighten up a little?

As we head into this next decade, can we draft a joint resolution to drop the crazy-making expectation that we must all be perfect friends and perfect mothers and perfect workers and perfect lovers with perfect bodies who dedicate ourselves to charity and grow our own organic vegetables, at the same time that we run corporations and stand on our heads while playing the guitar with our feet?

I loved this article – again, I recommend reading the whole thing – and I couldn’t agree with her more.

Try, just for a minute, to believe that everything you do and have right now is already exactly perfect. That your life today is as good as it’s ever going to get – that you will never exercise more than you do today, never be more organized, never use up your groceries any more efficiently, never fight with your spouse more constructively – the way you are today is how you will be forever.

Sure, it sounds boring and stifling. Because we are humans who thrive off growth and change. But isn’t there part of it that seems like a little bit of a relief?

We put so much pressure on ourselves to CONSTANTLY be improving, growing, changing, losing weight, gaining friends, making career advancements, having our laundry done, keeping the bathroom clean and fitting into our skinny jeans that the idea of turning off that motor for an afternoon (or a lifetime) has its merits.

I’m not saying we should stop striving. Striving is part of what it means to be a woman in today’s culture.

I’m saying we should be a whole lot nicer to ourselves about the whole game.

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3 thoughts on “failure and living well

  1. Love this! The secret is out, I get O Magazine too – how did I miss this article – Hmmm, must be buried under all the food magazines. Thanks for the reminder Jen!

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