As a perfectionist and high-achiever, I spent too much time listening to my anxiety-provoking thoughts in an attempt to prevent any undesired outcome. I felt disappointed to realize that I wasn’t driven by my curiosity; I was driven by my anxiety. My wins then became a reflection of my anxiety and restless weeks. It’s so easy to say that failure is a part of growth, but I had to truly experience it to break down core beliefs regarding my self-worth. I wanted to be driven by my curiosity and desire to learn, not perfect.

We are so complex. And I’m sorry if anyone has ever made you feel like your worth can be measured. Because the truth is, you have an unmeasurable inherent worth. I hope you can recognize your beautiful complexities that make you who you are. Please don’t disregard them. You are loved because of your imperfections, not regardless of them.

I didn’t want to be defined by my mistakes or failures, so I hid them. But in an attempt to hide them, I let myself be defined by my output. I thought I should only share my failures when I achieved something else to counterbalance my shortcomings. I thought I should wait before I could talk about my failures. But I really think I’d be doing a disservice to myself and those around me to wait to share my failures. Because I truly have learned a lot through them, and I don’t want to wait for a success story to talk about how much I’ve learned. Because just as I am not defined by my failures, I am also not defined by my success.

And the thing is, sometimes you fail. And that’s it. But you gain something else—you break down old core beliefs that didn’t serve you, you throw out old roots that pulled you down, and you learn to flourish into who you were meant to be. And it really isn’t that bad down here.

I want to share my failures because I wish my past self knew that they do not define my capabilities and worth as a human being. At a young age, I felt tremendous shame with grades, body-image, identity, and self-worth.

Life is not a linear progression. I’m ready to learn how to surf the waves of disappointment, joy, success, sadness, failure, grief, hope, inspiration, frustration, shock, denial, gratitude, and more. Because this is all part of the human experience, and I can’t run away from half of it.

I am not a hostage of my past experiences. I share them as a way to let go. My past does not define me but it shaped me into who I am. Being humiliated over and over again was painful, but it forced me to devalue the ridiculous notion of minute by minute ever fluctuating social relevance and likability.

I am not a blank slate. I am made of cracks, scars, and imperfections. And I can no longer run. My attempt to remain strong only made me weak. I’d like to officially announce and proudly say that I have fallen apart. And I have no desire to put myself back together.

I am Reema AlYousef. This is my story. And it’s only the beginning.

For those who struggle to accept their failures, this is for you.

Here’s a timeline of everything I failed at or would have been too ashamed to share:

My Failures