What I’ll Tell Sweet E: You Are NOT Your Failures, Losses or Tragedies

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When you get to be my age you’ve had your share of failures, losses and tragedies.

Some of them may leave scars that never fully close.  Some of them are brought back to you by a seemingly innocuous reminder, years after you thought you had firmly dealt with the pain.  Some of them embarrass, torment, or spur deep contrition and guilt.

Life.  My dear Sweet E, if you’re living it, and I know you are, you’re gonna get cut.

What I want you to know, what I have lived my entire life proving, is that you are not your failures, losses or tragedies.


Don’t doubt for one moment I don’t know what I’m talking about here, because, baby, I can prove you wrong a thousand times.

You Are NOT Your Failures, Losses or Tragedies

This is not to say that you forget or dismiss the events in your life that are the hardest to reconcile with the life you envision living.  Nope.  It means you move through the pain, you make sure you understand the pain, you learn and grow and become better in-spite of the pain, and then you come out the other side of the pain, to a fire-forged strength and purpose.

The twist is this: your failures, losses and tragedies are a part of you; they, in part, make you, you.

The truth is this: YOU decide how to move forward, how to respond, despite what happens to you in this life.

Victim or conqueror? Choose conqueror, if for nothing else but the coolness factor.

Your unfortunate circumstances can ~ahem~ suck it.  You are NOT your failures, losses or tragedies.

You, my sweet boy, come from tough stock.

You have the fierce passionate blood of adventurers, social activists, entertainers, soldiers, writers, business owners, care-givers, and a great-great-grandmother who decided to give Hitler the finger by hiding her Jewish friends during WWII, running through your veins.

You are bigger than what befalls you and you have it in you to overcome whatever has you by the short hairs.

Whenever you doubt that bit of wisdom, think about the strength that flows through your bloodline and draw from those that beat back life before you.

This world will try to define you.  They will see your failures, losses and tragedies and make assumptions about who it is you are.

People will want to see you carrying your burdens for the rest of your years, because that is what they do.  When you refuse, they’ll remind you in hopes that you pick them back up.  You did this.  You didn’t do that.  You failed.  You lost.  You suffered.  Too bad.

Never believe that is the way to live.

If you’ve done something to another, apologize and ask forgiveness.

If you’ve suffered at the hands of another, tell them.

If there is no explaining the difficulties you face, find a way to accept what is, then move on.

Moving on is the key.  Don’t let others tell you any different.  You can’t control what anyone thinks of you, but you can control what you think about yourself.  There is a life still left to be lived.

How are you going to proceed?

To make mistakes, to suffer losses, to fail is universal; to accept that you are what happens to you, is not.

Have the courage to keep reaching and stretching and trying, knowing that not everything you do will succeed.

You are NOT your failures, losses or tragedies.

Remember that, my Sweet E.


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  1. So true. Our failures, losses, and tragedies are simply a part of this life, and in my experience, I have learned more from them than from all the easy times. They have changed me, shaped me, and helped me develop greater patience and empathy. But, they are not who I am. What a beautiful message. Thank you!

  2. I’m going to echo Elizabeth…this is a wonderful message. All of this is part of life…and they are learning experiences that shape us. But we ultimately have the end choice of who we become! Beautiful, Patti!

  3. Hallelujah!! Wish I had learned this earlier in life! This wisdom would have come in handy in my 20s & 30s!

  4. If only we could find the secret to instilling self-confidence and trust in oneself to our children and grandchildren. Your message here, repeated over and over again, is a great way to start!

  5. Thank you for sharing, I need to copy and paste a lot of these words and read daily. I so much needed to read. Your words are healing, compassionate, and so true.

  6. I like to remember that even when I have failed, I was brave enough to try.

  7. With a grandma like you, how can Sweet E lose? He can’t. Brilliant, hard-earned advice. Thanks, Patti!

  8. This is wonderful! Thank you for such a positive message. I have a hard time not letting my faults tear me down. I’m a firm believer in the power of choice, and how we choose our lives and attitudes, but sometimes I forget I can choose how to think about myself! Thanks for the reminder. 🙂

  9. Needed to hear this at this point in my life when the trials sometimes feel overwhelming. Love what you said: Victim or conqueror? Choose conqueror, if for nothing else but the coolness factor. I’m gonna quote you on that. Yea, I wanna be cool…

  10. This is a simple and wonderful article I’ve ever read about success and failure.


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