Failing Boldly

In 1990 when it was unheard of for someone with schizophrenia to hold a job I obtained my first position as the administrative assistant to the director of an insurance business.

From 1990 to June 1997 I was laid off–that is terminated–from 4 out of the first 5 jobs I held in that time.

One office manager told me over the telephone not to show up the next day.

I was in my twenties and early thirties when I thought that having a corporate insurance office job was what I wanted in life.

I was 25 when I started my first job in that field.

Decades later I shake my head wondering what possessed me to to want to do that.

Here is what I can tell you:

You might have wanted to work at a job or career and it turns out not to thrill you years later.

You might have been convinced you wanted that job or career and it goes up in flames because it’s not the right one for you after all.

Failing boldly is nothing to be ashamed of. I don’t like to use the word failure because it’s a loaded word.

There’s a negative connotation to failing in American society.

It’s doubly hard to allow yourself to switch gears when you live with a mental illness.

The average Joe or Josephine on the street doesn’t get their behavior scrutinized half as much as we peers do.

Only when an option you chose didn’t work out it’s not that you failed–it’s that the strategy simply wasn’t the right one for you to pursue long-term.

I’m 55 years old today. Thirty years after failing boldly in my first career I’m a different person than I was at 25 years old.

So much of what we peers could do starting out in recovery might be done in reaction against our diagnosis–in the quest to be “normal.”

I would tell readers to choose from different alternatives the option that resonates with you today.

For any number of reasons–and for those not having to do with having an illness–your first choice might not work out.

What you learn along the way in life–either picked up on a job or in a relationship or with a hobby–is hard-won wisdom.

This wisdom will serve you well throughout your life.

I’ll end here by saying that sometimes the best of us can be in denial. We ignore the subconscious dreams we have at night that are red flags telling us not to continue down the road we’re on.

Or we’re afraid to risk doing the thing that is our wildest desire in life.

Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of rejection, and fear of other people’s judgment among other hurdles must be overcome if you and I are to have a life of our own design.

In the coming blog entry I’ll talk more the way I see things. I’ve been living in recovery for 33 years so far.

The more I live my life the more impressed I am with peers who have the courage to stand in their truth and tell their stories without feeling guilty or ashamed.

Be proud of yourself for risking doing something, for trying and possibly failing, and for continuing in the face of this setback.

Coming up what I’ve learned from living in recovery 33 years.

Author: Chris Bruni

Christina Bruni is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Left of the Dial. She contributed a chapter "Recovery is Within Reach" to Benessere Psicologico: Contemporary Thought on Italian American Mental Health. As well as an author and activist, Bruni is an artist and athlete.

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