I've seen a few people around the web sharing their various failures and mess ups. I thought it might be time that I share mine.
Failure is a funny word. It means different things to different people. To me, what we often see as "failure" is actually a learning opportunity. I had one such big learning opportunity when I quit my job on Parliament Hill to become a babysitter.
From a young age, I was convinced I would be an excellent lawyer. I had been an advocate for equality since a young age, and seemed to have the grades, traits and abilities to excel in law. Awards at school and in mock trials indicated the same. I studied law, and pursued work in challenging roles in Ottawa. I worked for the Embassy of the Czech Republic, and then for the Canadian Senate. I grew closer and closer to the world of law and politics, enveloped by it entirely. I studied for my undergrad in Law, wrote the LSAT, and applied to law school. But something did not feel quite right.
One day, during a particularly intense meeting of the Standing Committee on National Finance, while our leaders and politicians argued and pointed fingers across the table of blame, seemingly forgetting that at the end of the day, the most important thing was not their opinion, but the greater good of the country and it's people - it hit me:
This was not where I belonged.
I was infuriated with the adversarial process. I was frustrated by the arguing; the forgetting that we are all people, and that there are solutions possible somewhere in the middle - between all of our sides. And, what bothered me most was knowing that while we argued, people were actively falling through the cracks of our age-old systems designed to "help" and regulate our population.
I resigned that week.
Some might say it was a failure - my family certainly thought so. After all, I had just said good-bye to a prestigious well-paid career that most people my age would have felt lucky to have. Some might say that I failed to choose the correct path early on, and invested too much time in law and politics, when it wasn't the right fit for me. But ultimately, I know that's not true for me. What I learned that day was that I am indeed an advocate - but a lawyer and a politician I am not. I believe in fairness and justice and equality, like most good lawyers and politicians. But they WAY I chose to address this was fundamentally different. I was going to move forward in a way that was in line with my principles and morals, even if that meant working at a low-paying job (babysitting) before I got my bearings straight on where to go next in terms of how I would get to make the big changes I felt I needed to make given what I had seen and experienced, and what I now knew about myself. I learned that for me, integrity is everything; that peaceful discussion is possible (but sometimes you have to lead the way); that just because things have been a certain way "forever," does not mean that is the way they always have to be; and that sometimes being around children is the very best cure when we get out of touch with our own collective humanity.