What I learned from Failure

A quote graphic with the words "Failure is only the opportunity to begin again" superimposed onThere’s something I learned from the 10% happier meditation app that I feel like we can apply to literally everything in our lives. Joseph said that when meditating and our mind wanders, it can be frustrating and we think we are doing it wrong, but in fact there is no wrong way. It’s completely natural for our minds to wander. If they didn’t, something might be wrong with us. All we are supposed to do in that case is gently re-direct our focus back to the awareness mediation. Again and again. A hundred times if need be and that’s ok. 

The logo for the 10% Happier app. "Meditation for fidgety skeptics"
http://www.10percenthappier.com

The same can be said about dieting. When we “mess up” and give in to the temptation to eat that cookie or that piece of bread, we can’t throw our hands up and declare all is lost. We need to remember that those mess ups are a necessary part of the process! Without them, we wouldn’t be doing it right. When they do happen, we must simply re-direct our focus back to the diet. Again and again. The same can be said about any endeavor we commit to in life. If we commit to a daily meditation practice, and we skip a few days, we can’t give up and decide to drop the whole practice forever. We must simply begin again. When our business fails or we lose a job or quit or we lose our mind and our lives are falling apart… begin again. 

I have been rejecting the idea of begin again for so long. Not accepting it at all. Considering its existence in some way a symptom or proof of failure. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. I should get “begin again” tattooed on my body. Just to remind myself that this thing is a vital part of life. It is actually the very essence of not giving up. 

When I first received the calling to open a food service establishment in the summer of 2016, I told myself that this would be it. The last time I would ever open a new business. I’d already owned three other businesses before. If I failed, very consciously I promised myself that I would never forgive myself, and that it would effectively be the end of my life. So I simply would not fail. I could not fail. This was a spiritual mission. The universe had my back!

I made a huge vision board on our kitchen wall and threw myself 100% into the project of making it a reality. Over the next full year of passionate obsession, my business plan evolved from Burger Queen, a mock fast food restaurant serving vegan, gluten free versions of burgers, fries, and milkshakes, to Munchies, a food truck serving vegan, gluten free treats: waffles, shortcakes, shakes, and kombucha on tap.

A vegan grain-free strawberry shortcake made on a sweet potato waffle with
Our bestseller, the strawberry shortcake: vegan, grain-free sweet potato waffle topped with fresh strawberries and house-made coconut whipped cream.

I want to go into more detail about my process of full-time developing this business over a year and a half of my life, but I will need to do that in another blog post. UPDATE: Read all about my experience operating Munchies here. 

A family-run food truck serving vegan, gluten-free treats. Two little girls smile in the window.
My husband José and I and our girls Mia and Lizzie vending at our favorite venue, CFAM, the Colorado Farm and Art Market.

Needless to say, when my business did “fail,” aka when I decided to stop doing it, my world came crashing down. I literally spent 2 whole months doing almost nothing but crying, in between binge watching Netflix when I felt really bad, and studying real estate when I felt ok. It’s still hard for me to remember a day in October or November of 2017 when I didn’t cry.

A Bitmoji of Stacy Mojica crying.
Life fucking sucks.

I’d read in novels about grief. But I never really understood it. They said that grief comes in waves. It does. It can wrack you with the emotional intensity of a hurricane, and in the next moment leave you in numb shock, and in the next leave you so empty you don’t remember what it feels like to be full.

Then it starts over again. And it is endless.

I may offend some by saying that I grieved this. That this felt like a death to me. A death of my dreams. In truth, during that time my hope died, my faith died, and a very real, bright part of me died. It’s been 8 months since then and I still have yet to experience true joy. I decided awhile ago that joy is not a thing I will ever again be able to feel in my life. I’m still waiting for life to prove me wrong.A quote graphic that reads "and I've been spending the last 8 months thinking all love every does is break and burn and end. but on a Wednesday, in a cafe, I watched it begin again."

There are lots of days when I still cry about losing Munchies. I thought it would get easier over time. I thought I would be able to move on. But it’s gotten harder, and it’s gotten worse. Every day I regret more not continuing with my business. Every day I feel more and more trapped into a future where I can never try again. Would I even want to? Sometimes I stay up til 4am, heart pounding, scheming that I will. But dawn always brings with it the light of reason, and reality.A Bitmoji of Stacy Mojica with an eye twitch. Capital letters at the bottom read "I'M GOOD"

Some failures are small, and some are soul-crushing. This was by far the worst of my life, and for a long time I didn’t want to try ANYTHING again. Would I be able to handle another failure?

I thought that becoming a Realtor would be a straightforward 9-5 kind of job. I thought I would be able to learn the trade, and that clients would just appear. That I would do my job, do it well, have a career I could be proud of, and make real money. Something I haven’t been able to do in 8 years, despite working my ass off 100 hours per week for all 8 years in the deluded belief that I could follow my heart and somehow magically make money.

If there’s one thing that defines the millennial generation, it’s this: I believe it is a myth that we can all do what we love and make money doing it. Sometimes no matter how hard we work, and how much we believe, life takes us by the balls and body slams us into the fucking snow.

A quote graphic reads "I believe it is a myth that we can all do what we Love an make money doing it. Sometimes no matter how hard we work, and how much we believe, life takes us by the balls and body slams us into the fucking snow." superimposed over a small snowman.

I heard a stupid thing on the radio – that millennials are the generation most likely to believe that “everything’s going to be ok.” That somehow some magic will make everything work out in our favor. Maybe we do believe that. The young ones. But then life knocks us down a few times and we get jaded. We start to realize that it’s not all unicorns, fluffy cotton candy clouds and rainbows.

A quote graphic superimposed over a picture of an old transistor radio.

How wrong I was. After I became a licensed Realtor in February 2018, I started going to classes 2-3 days per week, networking events 2-3 nights per week, and slowly, it started dawning on me what this career really was. It was my own business. “Nooooooo!” My subconscious screamed. “FUCK NO.”

A Bitmoji of Stacy Mojica saying "Nooooooooo!"

This is not what I signed up for. Fear crept in, and sometime in March, I started crying myself to sleep at night again.

A Bitmoji of Stacy Mojica holding a cup of coffee. The cup reads "I HATE MYSELF."

Being a Realtor is hard. Not harder than I thought it would be. But I didn’t know how much I would have to market myself. And worse, I never anticipated the level of disrespect I would have to deal with. Not from other agents of course, but from other people who do not understand what a Realtor does. Not only is there is so much confusion and delusion about the nature of this career, but it also happens to be a sales job. And sales people don’t get respected. They just don’t.

One night I went to a networking event at Bar K. I was talking to a guy and he asked me what I do. I said brightly, “I’m a Realtor!” He made a face and said, “Ew.” I was appalled. “Why ‘ew’?” I asked, smiling. He said, “I don’t know. Just, you know, ew.” He was at a loss for words, and our conversation quickly died. I asked him why, but I already knew.

After 3 months I stopped going to networking events altogether. Because I realized that whenever someone asked me, “So, why real estate?” (and they invariably always would), I answered every time with a different answer. It became The Dreaded Question I actually tried to practice avoiding. After about 2 dozen networking events, I realized that I had a dozen different answers for this question, and none of them were good. They were all true, but none of them were real.

Sometimes I would say, “because my husband is interested in real estate.” Another night it would be, “Oh because I love real estate investing! It’s a tangible, low-risk investment opportunity…” Exasperated, “That’s a complicated question. (change of subject).” And when I could barely talk through the tears choking me, I only managed to whisper, “I don’t know.”

Inside I was saying, “Because my heart is broken, and I need to distract myself from the pain, and I need to make money, and I don’t know what else to do.”

I have 2 investor clients who keep me busy writing several contracts per week, going to showings, and creating CMAs (finding comps). I’ve developed my CMA style over many, many hours of diligent practice. I can do advanced price adjustments and ARVs. I have actually enjoyed developing client relationships, building trust, and rapport. I co-teach a First Time Homebuyer’s Class with Brother’s Redevelopment every month. It’s been 6 months since I became a Realtor, and while I feel 100% confident that I can represent any client in their best interests, with the depth of knowledge that I have gained, I know now that it is not going to be my lifelong career.

I am still a Realtor because I have invested over $8,000 in this new “business” (my subconscious is throwing up), I haven’t made a single penny from it, I need to recoup expenses, and I don’t have any other work options left. I’ve applied to dozens of jobs, but haven’t heard back from a single one. Let’s face it, I majored in English and made a career in nonprofit volunteer work. If it weren’t for my husband, I’d be living in a box.

A meme of a college student peeking out from inside a cardboard box smiling and giving a thumbs-up. Capital letters above and below read "I MAJORED IN ENGLISH! NOW I'M LIVING IN A BOX."

My biggest regret in life is not pursing a law degree after college. I missed my calling. I would have made a great lawyer. I would have been able to feed myself. Instead I followed all the STUPID grownup’s advice to “follow my heart.” Follow your heart is a lie.

It was a good thing for me to start working at the juice bar. It’s been good therapy for me. If I close my eyes, I can pretend I’m still working at Munchies. It makes me happy to serve good food to good people. And for the first time in 8 years, I’m actually making money. It might be like $800 a month. And almost 100% of it might go towards my minimum credit card payment and agent bill. But hey.

A Bitmoji of Stacy Mojica smiling and fanning herself with eight 100 dollar bills.
How I felt when I got my first paycheck of $453.
A Bitmoji of Stacy Mojica
How I felt after I paid my credit card payment and my Agent Fee.

On good days, I dream of someday having a real career, so that my daughters can look up to me and see a mama who made something of herself. So that in a very tangible way, I can support them on their life path to do the same.Every time I read a self help book or see another one of those motivational quote memes, it makes me sick. It reminds me how far away I am from my life path.

A quote graphic that reads "Some trite inspirational quote about overcoming things or some shit I don't know fuck off." superimposed over a setting sun.

I know I’m only 29 and my life isn’t over yet, but most days I still feel stuck living a life that doesn’t feel like my own. That feels so out of alignment with my soul purpose. That consists of whole days feeling like I’m in the wrong place, at the wrong time, in the wrong fucking universe.

At least once per week I tell my husband, “I should have kept the food truck.” And he always says, “If you’d kept the food truck, you’d be dead.” If I had kept doing the food truck, I’d probably be dead, but at least I would be happy.

On most days I am desperately unhappy. But I’ve had a lot of time to reflect about the choices I’ve made in life so far (most of them wrong)(unless there’s no wrong way), and I am at least getting to a point where I can shift perspective. One does not simply regain lost faith. But very slowly, over a very long time, maybe we can collect all the pieces.

A quote graphic that reads "At any giving moment you have the POWER to say this is NOT how the story is going to END." superimposed over railroad tracks and a man walking away.

I saw begin again as failure. Now I see it as perseverance. If one thing doesn’t work out, despairing over it is true failure. Deciding to begin again is true success.SaveSaveSaveSave

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