I hadn’t heard of Elizabeth Day until the hype around two years ago when she released her first non-fiction book. It turns out, she is a pretty talented and amazing woman, not to mention her great name 😎
Now, I told myself I would not read any more self-help books as they ironically make me feel ever worse which I find very unhelpful. This is a hybrid of a self-help book and memoir which is why I think I pulled through feeling elated by the read!
A woman in her 40s, without children and on her second marriage; Day covers taboo topics and her own situation which society still frowns upon, expecting women to be married, settled with children and in an okay job. But guess what, some women have other ambitions and priorities – and it doesn’t have to include babies! Day did want them, however, she has sadly unable to.
How to Fail is an accumulation of all the failures she has endured in a bid for reaching success as an extension of her podcast, where she speaks to other figures who have shared their experiences of success, but all the while facing failure along the way. I’m obviously binging through the episodes now, my favourite being author Kazuo Ishiguro and the super-funny Phoebe Waller-Bridge.
In her book she looks at…
How to Fail at…
– fitting in –
– tests –
– your twenties –
– dating –
– sport –
– relationships –
– being Gwyneth Paltrow –
– work –
– friendships –
– babies –
– families –
– anger –
– success –
Life is a learning process and something to be enjoyed and we are all going to face mistakes, particularly if we are striving for something greater. And that is a great thing: at least we tried!
Some of the quotes that stuck with me:
‘people-pleasing was never going to be a fulfilling way to live. That in pleasing others, you end up failing to please yourself. That in doing so, you are trying to shore your dwindling internal confidence by collecting the positive opinions of others, without realising that this never works; that it is the equivalent of ignoring a fire-breathing dragon by lighting a candle from its flame.’
‘What does it mean to fail? I think all it means is that we’re living life to the fullest.’
One of her friends says this to her when playing tennis:
‘Your problem … is that every time you miss a shot you gid yourself into a pit of self-loathing out of which it’s impossible to climb. You need to brush it off and be thinking of the next shot.’
She discusses babies and her difficulty in trying to conceive during the first marriage. Whenever I read about babies and children in autobiographies, news or academic sources, I always feel on the fence. She covers how she can sleep in whenever she wants, go wherever she wants, buy what she wants and not worry about childcare or facing stretch marks and scars on her body.
It’s things like these that really make me consider: What if I don’t want to be a parent? Will I ever want children? It is a very difficult one, but not one I want to take for granted as I know there are plenty of women and couples out there who could only dream of having a child.
How to Fail was a pleasant read: it read well, helped by the fact that she is well spoken and articulates her points and experiences succinctly whilst in an engaging manner.
So much so that I didn’t want this book to end! I loved the anecdotes within from her podcast guests, as it reveals they only got to where they are by facing failures along the way, showing we are still human and the same, regardless of their celeb status.
I found myself wanting to learn more about her failures and what she has learned, because it is proof that she has lived her life and is still continuing to learn from her failures.
Ultimately, failure is what makes us. It is an offcut as a result of drive and trying to achieve better things which should never be slated by other people, otherwise it is an indication of their jealously and lack of drive.
rating – 5/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
genre – self-help, memoir