Failing is hard

First of all, I have to say, that I don’t really know what I want to achieve with this post. It’s something that has been bothering me for some time and I’m writing it here to get it of my chest.


The following is my personal experience. When I made the choice to become freelancer I would have never expected that it would have this big of a effect on me. In that period I have had my fair share of past dues, bailiffs, notifications of foreclosure of my things, phone calls from the bank. It has been that bad that in July 2013 I was 2 days from bankrupt.

Do I tell you this, because I want your pity, no not at all. The reasons were plenty, by myself aswel outside factors. But what I want to tell is more how these things have impacted my life in more ways than I could imagine.

During the last 6 years, I lived in a constant state of stress, let me give you some exampels.

  • Every time I went to the mailbox, I expected the worst
  • Every car that stopped in the street, I feared it was a bailiff
  • With every telephone I had the fear of needing to find a new excuse why I didn’t pay yet.
  • Every time I came home, I checked the door for scratch marks of the locksmith, because the bailiff passed to write up my things
  • Every doorbell, I hid my important things
  • Every time I checked my account, I wondered what to pay first
  • Every moment of the day I was looking for creative solutions to pay something and still being able to live

That are only the small things, I had learned to hate and evade the question: “How are you doing?”. I didn’t want anybody to know that it wasn’t well, not that anybody wanted to hear that anyway. So I kept the charade going

But I wasn’t sleeping anymore, I stopped eating, I only drank water. I had small panic attacks. I hope for some good luck and started playing on the lottery, against my better judgement. I hoped for accounting mistakes from my clients, I stopped taking phone calls from unknown numbers

I hoped that hiding would solve my problems, but actually I was slowly killing myself, mentally and physically. I supposed it was part of the entrepreneur experience, as nobody was talking about it. Even those admitting to failure on the Fail conferences, never talked about the negative effects, only about getting up after you fall. So I must have been exaggerating.

One day I decided to stop hiding and just told everybody that asked, no it’s not well. As I made the click, it seemed that all felt in place. When the day came that I almost payed off all of my debts, it thought great, from now on it will be all better.

However, with my debt, I also lost my drive. I do realise I’m still not safe but I’m tired, I can’t go at 250% anymore. I’m still doing 90%, but that feels like standing still. I’m tired, empty, broken. I’m still passionate about photography and my jobs, but all other work is too much.

At least that is the feeling I’m having for the last months. So when yesterday, on the Failing Forward conference I heard every speaker talk about failure as a stepping stone to success, I had a bad taste with all that. Failing is not only a stepping stone, but also very tiresome and hard. You only get hit by it afterwards. You only know what it took, the moment you get up again.

By the way I still expect the worst, I’m still a bit anxious when opening the mailbox, going to the door or arriving home.