Feeling like a failure… when life doesn’t go as planned


Yesterday I tried for the third time to make chocolate eclairs.

Because is there anything on this earth more divine than the combination of the light, fluffy pastry, thick, rich custard and silky, chocolate ganache?

Eating an eclair is such an alluring prospect that I am willing to struggle time and time again to make them perfectly.


And each and every time, I am stumped as to how it all goes so wrong. The first two trials I followed the recipe to the letter and still my eclairs looked disappointingly nowhere close to the picture.


But in my flurry to bake yesterday I misread the recipe and accidentally missed out an entire cup of flour from the pastry. And even though I noticed and quickly tried to make amends it was too late, the mixture refused to thicken.


I thought that adding the eggs would help coagulate the dough but to no avail. I then put my hopes in the cooking of the pastry.

But unfortunately, they came out of oven looking deflated like a rugby ball that had been mistakenly driven over by a truck.


By this point I was extremely put out. I’d already used far too many eggs and a tonne of butter so there really was no going back.


After a brief reprieve I returned to tackle the custard filling. I then carefully sandwiched pairs of the flattened, pastry blobs together and merrily sprinkled the whole lot with icing sugar.


They weren’t chocolate eclairs but the custard provided an adequate distraction so that everyone ate them without complaint.


If there is one thing I have learnt over the past year it is that life is full of these kinds of setbacks and surprises.


When embarking on new adventures and sailing into uncharted territory, we are bound to make a few blunders.


We hardly ever get things right the first time around. More often than not our chocolate eclairs look more like flattened footballs than the perfect image we found in a recipe book.  


What has taken me by surprise is that the setbacks I most often come across are due to my wayward imagination and lofty expectations.


I’m a dreamer whose eyes are always starry with thoughts of the future. With dreams so vast and expansive it is hardly surprising that I find reality to be bitter and unkind.


I thought the year after graduation would be different. I thought I would breeze into a job and finally find my place in this world. I thought I would know what I want and I’d hop onto the career ladder just the same as everyone else.


But this year saw me working part time as a shop assistant, then unemployed for three months and finally working again as a waitress.


And a little part of me feels like a failure.


Because college graduates are supposed to have real jobs. Because adults should be working 9-5 and focusing on serious, obtainable goals. Because by now I should have a plan, a path forwards and an answer for when people ask me what it is that I want to do.


But I still have no answer. I still have no plan. I still don’t have a real job.


I’m not the woman that 12 year old me hoped I would become. As far as she is probably concerned, I am a failure.


feeling like a failure, failing, what is success, post-grad life, adulting, twenty something, when life doesn't go as planned, high expectations, dreaming big


But who decides what is success and what is failure? Who sets where the goalposts lie? Who has the right to tell me how I should live my life?


I do.


I’m only a failure if I believe so. I’m only a loser if I give up on myself. I’m only hopeless if once I fall, I refuse to get up and try again.


I suppose that success looks different to me now then when I was a little girl. It’s less about finding the perfect job, husband and house.


Success for me now means knowing who I am. It means being true to myself and living each day in a way that makes me proud.


Loving people even when I feel tired and impatient.

Creating something out of nothing and sharing it with the world.

Challenging myself to face my fears, push the limits and try new things.


What I am realizing is that following your own path instead of sticking to the status quo does not make you a failure.


Success doesn’t necessarily look the same for everyone so comparison is fruitless. 


The truth is, nobody really has a clue what they are doing. Most of us are stumbling along, figuring it out as we go.


So perhaps my life doesn’t look they way I thought it would at almost 22 but that’s part of what makes life beautiful…its total unpredictability.


I’m going to attempt to make eclairs again. I cannot resist, the sweetness or the challenge.

I’ll probably fail a few more times but one day I won’t.


One day the choux pastry will rise and stay crisp. One day the eclairs will retain their proper, elongated shape. One day I will bake them, fill them, ice them and present them to the oohs and ahhs of my loved ones.


That’s what success looks like to me.


Never, never, never giving up.

Previous Post Next Post


  • Alyssa

    This is beautiful- and I really do get the feeling. You are so right in saying none of us really have it figured out. We all don’t! We are just here learning and messing up and learning again and loving others in the process…. it’s a beautiful journey though!

    August 20, 2018 at 1:17 am Reply
    • Megan Hallier

      It is a beautiful journey! It is exciting not knowing where we will end up.

      August 29, 2018 at 8:54 am Reply
  • Caitlin

    Thank you for these words this morning, friend. I think in many ways society “tells” us what we are “supposed” to do and it’s incredibly draining and frustrating when none of that happens. I’m starting to realize that things don’t always come quickly and I do need to trust God’s timing. Feeling like a failure has sadly become too real of a feeling and then it’s even more frustrating to feel that way. (Like a really bad cycle). Like you said, it’s up to us to dictate how we feel. We’ve got an awful lot of strength to tell ourselves it’s OK to feel that way but then also to dust ourselves off and pick up the pieces. You’ve got this journey friend. I believe in you!!

    August 20, 2018 at 4:14 am Reply
    • Megan Hallier

      I’m glad these words found their way to you when you needed them. It’s all about dusting ourselves off and refusing to back down even when we fail. I love your attitude. <3

      August 29, 2018 at 8:55 am Reply
  • Emily Swanson

    It is so true that our minds will make us think that we are a failure, and yet Jesus picks us up again and keeps leading us forward, because in Him it is always that sweet happy ending. For so long I really wanted to get everything right, not disappoint anyone, not fail in relationships, but I’ve realized that all those opportunities were thing that taught me. None of them were wasted. <3 I love you Megan, and I love your vulnerability. I love how freely you love, how deeply you feel, how kindly you speak to others and understand the struggles of adulting in your posts. I love you.

    August 22, 2018 at 4:19 pm Reply
    • Megan Hallier

      You are right, we do learn so much in those failures too…it’s not always such a bad thing! I love you too Emily. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my posts and support me, it means the world!

      August 29, 2018 at 8:56 am Reply
  • 25 self love affirmations to pick yourself up on bad days

    […] This world squeezes us from every side. It crushes us beneath its weight. It tramples on our dreams and takes delight in leaving us feeling like a failure. […]

    February 22, 2019 at 9:33 am Reply
  • Leave a Reply

    Read this next