You Can Never Fail at Becoming Yourself: A guest post by The Unlost


February 11, 2013 by iamsaw

Therese Schwenkler of The Unlost

Therese Schwenkler of The Unlost

Therese Schwenkler is an ex-accountant on a journey and she is not lost. She is unlost and leading the way for others. What does it mean to be unlost? Here is Therese’s definition:

1. No longer lost; having found one’s way.
2. Possessing a clear sense of direction and purpose.
3. Living a life of one’s own making.

Therese is up to big things. And she is not afraid of failure. Exhibit A:

“I have a degree in psychology from Gonzaga University and a degree in accounting from Boise State University, but the best school I’ve attended is the School of Life. In the spring of 2012, I quit my ex-job as an accountant to travel around like a homeless crazy person and to focus on building The Unlost community.”

Upon discovering her blog last year, I reached out to her. I shared Love in the Time of Foreclosure with her because I felt like we were really up to similar things and she would dig it. Later, she invited me to contribute to this blog post on The Unlost: Rewriting the Great Love Stories of Our Time.

Given who she is, I thought of her when I was looking for A-List bloggers to guest post on Today’s Failure. When I called her an A-list blogger, she laughed. Okay, fine. But, you’re A-List in my book, Therese. And my book is all that matters.

Without further ado, here is Therese’s “failure” post… ENJOY!


never fail

You Can Never Fail At Becoming Yourself


I danced twice last week.

On Tuesday I went to Zumba class, failing miserably to keep up as the teacher shook and shimmied with ease.

And Saturday, on my birthday, I took the hand of a good looking stranger and let him lead me around a crowded dance floor over and over again.

Which doesn’t sound like a big deal or anything, but it was because, well– I don’t dance.

See, my whole life I’ve been terrified of embarrassing myself in front of– gasp!— people, and so I’ve often opted to sit fearfully on the sidelines, praying to God that no one pulls me onto the floor where I’ll be forced to put my white girl moves on display.

“My rhythm is horrible!” I tell myself. “And if I can’t do it perfectly and gracefully and awesomely, then I’m not gonna do it at all.”

It’s not just dancing, either: Putting myself out there in any way scares me sh*tless.

When I first started writing my blog almost 2 years ago, I was absolutely petrified– petrified that no one would read it, that people would laugh and sneer and say “Who do you think you are?”

When I launched my first online product, I was sure that no one would buy it, that everyone would hate it, that this creation I’d put hours and months and sweat and tears into would fall insanely, terribly short.

And when I left my accounting job last year, I was afraid I’d be called a fool, afraid I was “throwing it all away,” afraid I would fail.

It’s at times like these– when we’re doing the hard things, not the easy things– that we find ourselves wanting to crawl back into our shells and shrink away from the risk of exposing our hopes or dreams or our shortcomings. We’d rather stay in the “safe zone” and do nothing at all than step out and risk feeling like a fool, facing criticism, flirting with failure.

And yet it turns out that the biggest failure of all is not to try and to fail, to stumble and to fall, to attempt and to fall short.

No– the biggest failure of all is not to try at all

The biggest failure of all is to rest in the company of, in the words of Theodore Roosevelt, “those cold & timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

Without being willing to fail, after all, there is no room for success.

And not only this, but there’s also something much deeper at play. Because, you see, the true reward lies not just in the opportunity for success– instead, it lies in the very act of opening. The real reward lies in the person we’re becoming as we open ourselves to the world.

Even if everyone laughs at you, even if you slip on a puddle of spilled beer and fall hard in the middle of the dance floor, you have not lost, my friend.

Oh no, you have not lost!

In fact, you have won.

No matter the outcome, you have won because you have become a person who lives, who really lives.

You’ve won because you’ve been set free from the shackles of fear– fear of defeat, fear of judgment, fear of failure. You’ve refused to let the fear of falling short keep you from living your life– from loving deeply, from daring greatly, from showing up fully, wholly, authentically, imperfectly.

You have won because you have finally succeeded in becoming yourself. 

The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.

– Anna Quindlen

And so today, my friend, I challenge you to set yourself free. I challenge you to let go of your tightly held image of perfection and replace it with an imperfect but absolutely real, absolutely lovable version of YOU.

And in the act of putting yourself out there– of putting your heart and soul into something that just might not work out– remember that you’ve already won.

Remember that, win or lose, what matters most isn’t the outcome– it’s who you’re becoming in the process of risking it all.

And remember this– listen closely, my dear: You can never fail at becoming yourself.


If you enjoyed this post, please share it.

If you’d like to learn more about the author, Therese Schwenkler, please visit her blog The Unlost where she writes about “dealing with life’s suckiness” and “how to be awesome.”


11 thoughts on “You Can Never Fail at Becoming Yourself: A guest post by The Unlost

  1. Therese says:

    Thanks for having me, Stephanie! Love your project and I’m glad to be a part of it 🙂

  2. Yaa Yaa says:

    Therese, I am an Unlost subscriber and am always inspired by your posts! Thank you for starting your blog and thank you for your inspiration.

  3. Terese! Yes – “it’s who you’re becoming in the process of risking it all” – so true!!! Love it. I find I always feel more alive when I step out of my comfort zone to do something new. Sometimes it scares the pants off me, but I’m making a much more conscious effort these days to say YES to new stuff (even if I’m totally scared) instead of hiding in a corner and then later beating myself up over it.

    Last week I went to a volunteer appreciation dinner, and the entertainment for the evening was this witty, quirky guy who did all sorts of crazy tricks. Well wouldn’t you know… he walked around the roomful of people looking for someone to pull up to the front for one of his acts, and lo and behold, he picked me. Noooooo! (and I was ticked because the avoiding-eye-contact-thing didn’t work!!! Damn – I shouldn’t have worn red). I was tempted to come up with some reason not to go up, but I sucked up my butterflies and ended up tossing bowling pins with him. We may have looked ridiculous, but I actually had a blast! And it was one more fear – of failure, looking stupid, being in front of people, etc. – that I pushed through. Yay!

  4. This was just what I needed. Thank you.

  5. Amy Chick says:

    Therese, you always inspire me. Another great quote that I think you’ll love:

    It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.
    J.K. Rowling

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