I have to tell you the truth. Lately, I had not been doing well.
Ever since I came back from Bali, my world had been turned upside down. I was excited to help an animation studio founder in his business, but when I came back, it didn’t turn out the way I expected.
I was left jobless. And I felt devastated.
I hadn’t felt that depressed ever since I left my audit job six years ago. There are other job opportunities in the market and I know I had the capability to get a new job. But I just find it so difficult to be hopeful.
And I didn’t know why.
It wasn’t until I had a breakdown after watching a Ted-Talk about overcoming shame by Dr Brené Brown, that I realized I felt ashamed of myself for the past one year. And I had been hiding it from others.
Why I Felt So Ashamed of Myself
I felt ashamed of myself because of my book, Fearless Passion. Most would have thought that being an author, one should feel proud of their book. But I don’t.
In my book, I talked about my journey from being an accountant to an animator. But after being an animator for six month, I realized that making animation is not my passion. So I decided not to be an animator anymore and went back to HBO Asia to help out with their accounting systems.
The six months that I was back in HBO Asia, I almost wanted to dug a hole and put my head in it. Everyone knew that I was pursuing my passion in animation. And now, everyone knew that I had failed.
Ever since I left my animation job, I hadn’t been making the effort to market my book. It’s not that I don’t have the time or don’t have the know-how. The truth is I felt embarrassed to promote my book. I felt like a fraud because I failed to do what my book said.
Who am I to talk about passion when I’m not even doing something that I’m passionate now?
Selling my book to others seem like such a lie. And I didn’t want others to know about this book.
How Not Admitting Failure Had Led Me to Bad Decisions
You know it took me two weeks to write the post about my decision to not to be an animator. Three months in my animation job, I already knew that animation isn’t my passion. I wanted to practice what my book preaches:
“Follow your passion, but don’t follow your passion blindly.“
However, if I don’t do animation, I would be announcing to the world that I’m a failure.
So I took the middle ground approach. I wrote a long post that explains why I not doing animation isn’t a failure. Finding excuses to justify why I’m not contradicting my book, I even said that I would come back to animation industry one day.
In my post, I have not once mentioned that I’ve failed. I didn’t want to admit that I’ve failed because it’s humiliating. I didn’t want to be perceived as weak or as someone who gives up easily.
But not admitting my failure had caused me to make very bad decisions. It had led me down the wrong path:
- I thought I needed to start a business related to animation. That restricted my choices and I felt stuck.
- Even though my gut was telling me that something wasn’t right, I jumped at the opportunity to help the animation founder and be in the industry.
- I wrote blog posts about animation resources which were the type of posts I don’t enjoy writing.
I limited myself by thinking that I need to associate myself with animation. Why is this so?
It’s because I didn’t want to admit that I was wrong about my passion. Subconsciously, I was thinking if I somehow make it back to the animation industry one day, I’ll be able to promote my book and I’ll not be a failure. And that’s why my whole world came crashing down when I realized I wasn’t going back to the animation industry.
Overcoming Shame and Admitting Failure Are Liberating
I had been reflecting and I had forgotten that my book, Fearless Passion, isn’t all about passion. Half of my book is about courage. Even though I might not be doing what I’m passionate now or doing it all the time, but I definitely have the courage to start all over again. I would not stop trying.
But me not talking about my failure and my shame have held me back from moving forward.
Who doesn’t want to be successful? Who doesn’t want to do what they love? But it’s impossible to succeed without failing. Being successful without honoring your failure is not a true representation of your journey.
Have you seen a movie that is happy from the start to the end? No. There’s always struggles. There’s always failures. Because that’s life. No story could be told when everything is perfect.
So today, I’m overcoming shame and letting down my ego. I’m announcing to the world:
“I’ve tried. I’ve failed. And I’m moving on.”
Animation will not be my focus moving forward. I was wronged about it. It isn’t my passion. I still would utilize that knowledge when necessary. But if it doesn’t fit into my future plans, I won’t force it.
Brené Brown: Listening to Shame
Below is the video that gave me a lot of insights about myself. I hope you enjoyed it. Here are some meaningful quotes from Brené Brown:
“Vulnerability is not weakness. Vulnerability is pure courage.”
“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.”
“Vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage.”
“You know what the big secret to Ted is. It is like the failure conference. Very few people here are afraid to fail. Not one who gets on the stage so far I’ve seen had not failed.”
“Life is about daring greatly.”
“Shame drives two big tapes: never good enough and who do you think you are.”
“Shame for women is do it all, do it perfectly and never let them see you sweat.”
“Shame for men is do not to be perceived as weak.”