Failure Survey, 2015-2016

I’ve been reading a lot of articles about the pernicious effects of social media: how we see only the highlights and victories of other people’s lives, and how that makes us feel less accomplished or worthy.

I’m guilty of perpetuating this, of course. On Facebook I only share the most beautiful photos, positive praise, and inspiring events in my life.

So for a change of pace, today I’m sharing a list of my failures over the past two years. Each of these has been a real struggle or concern in my life, and I don’t have a good solution for most.

Business: Many of my recently launched Unschool Adventures trips have not met minimum numbers, and I’ve had to cancel them (see them here). I haven’t grown my business’ audience enough to make these trips viable, or I’m offering the wrong kind of trips.

Dance: I’m an extremely slow learner, and I’ve had the experience of dancing with a stranger at an event (dance festival or tango milonga) who obviously doesn’t enjoy the experience and actively avoids dancing with me again.

Girlfriend: In my pursuit of a meaningful long-term relationship, it’s been swing-and-miss, over and over again. I’ve invested more hours in online dating than I care to admit. I make wrong guesses about who’s attracted to me, I misread people’s intentions, and I send mixed messages.

Running: Though I’ve been going on cool runs, I’m not getting any faster or more efficient. If anything, I’m getting slower. I’m really bad at doing anything resembling “training,” like going on shorter runs at faster paces.

Writing: Both of my big published works this summer, How to Live Nowhere and Off-Trail Learning, have received minimal traction. I’m trying to write for wider audiences and not doing a very good job of it. And my podcast listener numbers are flat, not growing.

Health: I’ve given up on strength training over and over again, despite my friend Fred even making a custom work-out plan for me. I’ve done nothing to curb my sugar addiction that I know is detrimental to my long-term health; I eat large bowls of ice cream most nights, and eat out when I could easily cook for myself (with healthier meals and less money spent).

Family: Despite living only 3 hours away from my west-coast family, I’ve failed to visit once this summer.

Long-term projects: As I review projects that I’ve launched with fanfare over the past years, I’ve given up or stalled on many of them (see: Open Master’s and Hogwarts).

I’m not writing this post so that you’ll comment and say “Oh Blake, don’t worry, you’re wonderful.” I’m not looking for sympathy or praise. Just trying to keep it real here in the online world.

  • Paige

    I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this sort of honesty. I’ve been trying to be more honest on social media, too, and not fall prey to that sense of fomo that is so easy to feel when we all post gorgeous pictures of traveling and playing in the mountains!

    (btw Sasha and I were binge-listening to your podcast when we drove cross-country in August!)

    • Thanks Paige! Yes, those summer Sierra pics are especially FOMO-inducing…

  • I ❤️ this post. I also appreciate how much goes into all of the ventures you mention. Fwiw, I love the podcast and mention it regularly to people I think might enjoy it.

  • Alexandra Heller

    I love this… you are definitely winning at being courageous and openly honest. Most of us avoid reflecting critically at all the ways we’re not achieving what we think we should be, let alone sharing it publicly. Refreshing!

  • Catalina

    First thing I thought about the ice cream part; you’re living my dream! Lol.
    But anyways, thanks for this post.

  • I’m genuinely surprised that How to Live Nowhere isn’t getting much traction. It’s the best resource I’ve ever read on that topic, and I’ve been all over the googles. I’m in the process of writing (read: trying to get around to starting) a similar guide for digital nomads, and the awesomeness and comprehensiveness of yours is kind of intimidating me *shakes fist in the air*

    I hope this article brought you some more podcast subscribers – I’ve accepted I’m the only person on the planet who doesn’t like them, otherwise I’d have provided you with an ego-boosting +1 myself. Maybe I’ll meet you somewhere on the planet one day. Good luck with your everything!

  • Lara Baeza Fernandez

    Thank you, Blake, for a breath of fresh air! Authenticity!