It’s Time to Redefine What Failure Means

I’m sitting in Starbucks in a strange city, staring at my planner trying to figure out a reasonable date to call it quits from my Denver job search. A month from now? Two months?  

I recently moved to Denver after about a year of talking about it, and five months of applying for jobs long distance. I arrived January 21st and immediately moved into an Airbnb. For the last two months I’ve been hopping from Airbnb to Airbnb and occasionally my friend’s boyfriend’s apartment hoping for a job offer from one of the many jobs I’ve applied for.

After a hard conversation with my mom and another one with my friend, I’ve decided to set an end date for my cross country move. As my bank account dwindles and my car gets more unorganized and the job rejection emails keep pouring in, I realized I need to redefine failure.

Before I made this move, I thought failure would be not coming to Denver, or coming to Denver and not finding a job. But the reality is, I’m not the first one to pick up and move to Denver. Millennials across the country are moving to Colorado because the job market is swimming with jobs. Which is great, except there’s a ton of competition for all of these jobs because Denver has no shortage of job seekers.

When we talk about taking a large risk, a big thing that holds us back is failure. It makes sense. Failure is embarrassing, its soul crushing, it’s a feeling full of guilt. So, if we take the negativity of failing out of the equation, what are we left with? Plan B (or C or D). A new idea. The next big swing and the ability to pull ourselves out of the dirt.

There’s so much pressure on young adults to go out and see the world, take big swings and immediately recover if they fail. But failure is soul crushing and it can be hard to brush off. So how do we combat the fear of failure while taking risks?

I think the answer is in the hard decisions. I feel the East Coast tugging on my heart, trying to pull me back and every day I don’t throw my suitcase into the car and drive east, is a day I succeed. Even if I cry over how much I miss my other friends, my family, Virginia – it’s another day I haven’t failed. Each time we fight the urge to do the comfortable or take the  easy way out, we can say we succeeded.

Here’s the reality of failure: we define it for ourselves. So I’m working to get out of the failure mindset. For now, I’m applying for jobs everyday, constantly looking to improve my LinkedIn, resume, and cover letters. I am trying my best to make my life in Denver work. But even if it doesn’t, there is always somewhere else to go.

Lauren Gustafson

Lauren Gustafson

Lauren is a Virginia native and graduate of the University of Mary Washington where she majored in English. She reads passionately, bakes occasionally, and loves rugby. Lauren has spent multiple summers supervising children at overnight camps and she is a pro at dealing with awkward and inappropriate questions. Her goals in life include: being a crazy book lady, living on her own, and traveling any chance she gets.
Lauren Gustafson
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