Building Castles From Mud Piles – How to Turn a Negative Past into a Positive Future

“The road to success and the road to failure are almost exactly the same.” — Colin R. Davis

It’s ironic to think that my greatest achievements resulted from countless years of misery. Over and over, I failed at life. Romantic relationships were not my forte, school-life was hit and miss, friends came in and out of my life like the inanimate couple does a cuckoo weather house, and society seemed to have no place for a person like me. As a result of these experiences, Sacha the teenager walked through life a whiny little emo girl with the weight of the world on her black hoodie-ridden shoulders.

If only she’d known what an honour it was to experience all that shite.

The thing is, if it weren’t for all of those crappy events, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Make no mistake, I am not rich or famous or have the perfect life by any means. But what I do have is wisdom, knowledge and a sense of freedom from a past self who couldn’t see light at the end of the tunnel.

Unlike those who’ve been fed with a silver spoon, I’ve grown up. And trust me when I say that being an adult is nothing to do with age. The same goes for success. Without good values, achieving success is not a case of simply following a venn diagram. Achieving success is a maze. A confusing, stupid and irksome maze you go round and round in, scream at a few times, curse the bushes surrounding you and collapse in a hopeless foetal-positioned heap on the floor in. But once you finally crack through the confusion of it all, the world is yours for the taking.

Stamina, flexibility and a growth mindset are the key elements to achieving this, and they cannot be obtained without first facing failure. In the famous words of William Prescott, “an obstacle is often a stepping stone.” So whilst your happy-go-lucky counterpart seems to have their shit together, just remember they’re walking this world blind. And as soon as they face trouble ahead, they’ll be up crap creek without a paddle.

Capitalising our negativity into positivity is where it all begins, and using our innate ability to adapt to new environments will channel that process. Charles Darwin proved this when he made the argument for evolution, by saying that, “it is not the strongest of the species that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” Therefore, it would be wrong to say that success and failure are the opposites of one another when in actual fact, they run parallel.

How we manage our encountered failures is what will determine our success, and making the effort to grow and learn, even in the face of failure, is the key to that achievement. If we believe that failure is not a permanent state of being, then we will continue to try hard and take chances.

If opportunities don’t come knocking, build a door. 

However hard we may try though, we can’t always do this alone. We need support from others. And by the same token, we must also support others in return. Strength cannot be derived from an army of one. But a positive outlook and the belief in collective ability will take you from strength to strength. Remember, two heads are always better than one.

Talking of failure, an old parable of the wise and foolish builder provides a rather relevant notion. They taught me this one in primary school and it’s stuck in my mind ever since. The story follows two men building houses. The first man chose to build his house on the sand because it was easy to access and quick to make, and the other man took the hard route up the rocky hill and spent many months building his house up there. As you can imagine, it didn’t take long for Mr Sand’s house to get swept away once a torrential storm broke out. Whereas Mr Rock’s house was safe. No matter how hard the storm hit, his house was immovable. His foundation was solid.

His efforts paid off.

So, just like with the maze, stamina and determination are the undeniable arrows that point you towards success, and even if you don’t think you’ve achieved it yet, it doesn’t matter. It’s all in the timing. For when the storm comes, you’ll be glad you’ve built those foundations.

Our last mistake is our best teacher. 

Failure is critical to success.

Castles can be built from mud piles (at least metaphorically, anyway…)

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3 thoughts on “Building Castles From Mud Piles – How to Turn a Negative Past into a Positive Future

  1. Tash says:

    This was such an inspiring read Sacha! I’ve faced so many failures over the years and always felt like every time I tried to do something, it would never work out. It’s only now I look back on my life and realise that I NEEDED those failures to bring me where I am today! If they had not happened, I would not be in the position I am today. Years ago, I got onto the Cosyume Design course at Nottingham Trent University and thought “yeah, this is it! I’m gunna be a successful costume designer when I graduate!” Blah, blah, blah… anyway, fast forward two years from when I stated it, and it had made me feel so miserable, my confidence went to mush and I turned to drink/drugs as a coping mechanism to try and fight through my unhappiness. As a result, I made bad decisions and my once close relationships with friends and family, and the people I loved most, dissolved before my eyes. I failed the course and as a result of my anger and frustration, withdrew from it – as well as my once happy self. I was in a mess, both mentally and physically. “Is this it?” I thought, “is this the hand I’m gunna be dealt with for the rest of my life? F*** this, and f*** everyone! I’m done!” I withdrew from the world and I had never felt so alone. So empty and so frustrated with everyone and the world around me.
    Fortunately, this was around the time where two little fluffy bundles of joy came into my life – Rick and Vivienne the two cats. Something as simple as caring for, and helping the kittens grow up into lovable and doting creatures made me realise that I needed to change my life. I began picking myself up. I started having counselling and it was one of the best things I ever did for myself, learning about myself and my triggers and learning that despite a slightly crappy turnout from the last few years, this WOULD’NT determine the rest of my life. It was also a time to figure out what I wanted to do and all along, my passion had been art. Creating things that intrieged me and made me feel happy – that’s what I was missing! I finished my counselling and decided the next step was getting myself back into education. It requires endless hours of hard work, tears, sweat and aany bucketfuls of perseverance but I finally managed to bag myself an interview onto a fine art course at derby university.
    It’s funny how things work out, over five years later, as I sit here and write this, whilst scanning through my dissertation feedback and degree show exhibition proposal, as well as an embarrassingly long to-do list as long as my arm of things ready for the degree show, I think back to what brought me here. It wasn’t luck, it wasn’t chance and for the first time, I believe it wasn’t purely fate; it was failure upon failure, tears, tantrums and having a long hard look at what is important in my life. Thank you Sacha, you are a credit to this world. Keep up the wonderful writing!

    • Sacha K says:

      Reading your comment brought tears to my eyes, Tash! I never even realised your journey had been so hard. I guess it just shows that the person we portray to the outside world can often be a far cry one from reality. One thing’s for sure though – YOU ARE AN AMAZING LADY. You’ve learned from all of the shit life has thrown at you, waded through the muck and come out a stronger and more determined person. I am so proud of you! We need more Tash’s in this world! And more cats, too. They do seem to be a powerful catalyst…get it? CATalyst…I thought it was funny haha. Anyway! Thank you for sharing your experience and for always showing endless support to my writing 🙂 Stay awesome! ❤

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