From Our Readers
September 09, 2014 11:32 am

I’m really failing at life right now. I’m not exaggerating either—I’ve been off my game. It feels like everything I do is wrong, every person I go to gets upset with me, every action I take is the wrong one. This seems to be my life for the past month or so, but it wasn’t until last week when I threw in the towel and admitted to myself that I was officially in a rut. I’ve managed to isolate myself from the most important people in my life and put my foot in my mouth more than I can count. I’ve been fearful to be honest with my best friend, I’ve upset my sister more than the normal amount, I’ve been quiet and unhelpful with my roommates, and I’ve nagged my boyfriend to the point of oblivion.

It’s hard to work through since once you get in a rut like this, it starts to feel like everything you touch will break or crumble. However, keeping it all in perspective, these ruts eventually end and when I start following my own advice, I start to feel more and more like myself again and not a bull in an emotional china shop. Here are some lessons I’ve learned so far.

1) You have to be honest with yourself—and with others while you are at it.

It’s true what they say about the first step being acceptance. It’s hard to admit when you aren’t really doing your best but it’s also one of the only ways to get better. I mean, I’m gonna be real with you, it’s no party to sit down and analyze the decisions you’ve been making, especially when the wrong decisions keep piling up, but it’s also only allowing you to get better and improve by learning the mistakes you make along the way. Everyone makes them but people who make good leaders, friends, significant others, colleagues and family members learn from them.

2) Make the effort.
If you reached the “rut” stage in this saga, I can almost bet that you may need to make some rounds to people who deserve explanations, apologies, or maybe just hugs. Owning up to your shortcomings to others makes you vulnerable and real. If you are going to apologize and be remorseful for what you did, you need to think about how to improve the next time and give tangible and concrete ways that you plan on making it better. It also allows for deeper connections, open communication and trust. All of which then lead to make-up sleepovers with ice cream and manicures. Okay, that may not be true in all cases, like with your 40 year old co-worker.

3) Forgive yourself.

This one is a toughie for me. I have a hard time accepting that I’ve made a mistake, especially when it’s a repeated occurrence. I’ve been known to go weep in my room after a confrontation just from the idea that I’ve been too harsh with someone. I don’t handle me failing well but learning that you are going to fail sometimes and still getting out there and trying again is what makes us better. Being able to love yourself with the flaws and the mistakes is the best kind of love.

4) Respect other people’s choices.
I believe that most people accept that we aren’t all perfect. Most people are going to let go of your mistakes and forgive you. Accept their forgiveness with grace and appreciation. However, sometimes, mistakes are bigger than others and your loved ones may not be as quick to forgive you. That’s their right and respecting their need for space, time, or just closure is something you should try to give. It’s a struggle everyday to not try and reach out to my best friend but I also know that if she is ready to come to me, she will.

5) Mean what you say.

My mother used to always tell us that we shouldn’t say sorry unless we were going to do better next time because being sorry means you want to do better. I used to hate it because it forced me to do better and when I was eight years old, I just didn’t want to pick up all my toys off the floor before I went to watch TV. I had shows to watch, Mom! I can’t be better! But, now it’s something that defines me and how I try to approach mistakes. Your words only mean something if your actions illustrate it. If you say you will do better and know how you’ve erred, you gotta back it up. This is potentially the hardest lesson of all—it’s never easy to actively continue to check yourself but there’s a reason for the saying “actions speak louder than words.”

Chandler Watts is a 26-year-old living in Washington, D.C. She describes herself as part self-proclaimed TV critic, part comedy connoisseur, all cheese lover. You can read more from Chandler at the blog The Penny Ledger and by following her on twitter @chandlerterp.

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