An excerpt from How to Succeed at Failing
by Abby Schachner


A good way to go about failing is to decide that everyone’s better than you. At what, you ask? Does it even matter? Let’s just say everything. Everyone’s better than you at everything. They’re better at breathing, living, raising their kids. Hell, you might not even have kids. You might never have kids. You wanna know why? Cuz everyone else is better.

They’re better at lawn care. They’re better than you when it comes to career. Really, they’re so much better you might as well off yourself. But you’re not going to do that, because you’re good at failing. Not just good. You’re a success at it.

You are destined to be second fiddle to even the second fiddle.

In fact, you forgot your fiddle.

Everyone’s better than you.

Deal with it. Revel in it.



What’s the point of trying to break a bad habit? Or to stop some sort of behavior that’s stressing you out? Just keep on doing it. One day you’ll either explode or fall to pieces from hitting the same walls, or you’ll magically change or… you won’t. Is that the worst thing in the world?

We’ve all found ourselves repeating the same patterns over and over again.

Maybe you’ve woken up in the beds of countless strangers.

Maybe you’ve woken up in your own urine thinking, “Holy shit! How much tequila did I drink?” Maybe you woke up in a bathtub full of ice, with stitches alongside of you, missing a kidney in the middle of a nowhere Mexican town.

Maybe I created all those examples because I have a thing for waking up with shame.

No matter! We’re successful failures. We deserve to celebrate. One kidney or two.

Maybe you find yourself starting smoking again every time you become obsessed with a man. And you think, as you puff on your cigarette, “next time, I will not obsess. And…I won’t smoke”. I seem to have fallen privy to this pattern again and again. And again. I repeat this obsessive pattern like the directions on the back of a shampoo bottle. I might die a lonely old woman with charred lungs because of it. Uch.

But changing is hard. By the way, that’s a great mindset for the successful failure.

Change is hard.

Insofar as repeating negative behaviors, the same goes for squeezing my face. I see one imperfection, real or imagined, and the next thing I know I’m butchering it with my fingers. I have scars along my face like constellations. I could see this as a positive thing if I made wishes every time I see a pimple on my face. Unfortunately though, I squeeze and squeeze only leading to scabs. I’ve been doing it for years.



If you really want to succeed at failing, another great pattern to get into is to constantly talk about how you need to change, but don’t. This is imperative. DO NOT CHANGE. Tell all your friends about your new, soon to be made ‘changes’… make a few phone calls… set up lunch dates… talk about the weight you need to lose, the job you need to get, the man you want to nab, but don’t change a thing. This is crucial. DO. NOT. CHANGE. But, if luck has it that you do make improvements, be sure to slip back. Regularly. Hell, what else are patterns for, but to repeat? That’s what pattern means. To repeat. So… repeat. Keep it up. Patterns are beautiful, right? Innate. Look at a leaf or a sand dune. Nature knows a thing or two about patterns, and do you think it’s beating itself up about it? No! Why? Because nature is beautiful. We need patterns! Otherwise, what else do we follow?

Also remember, it’s good to feel a little uncomfortable once in a while. The world would be so boring if you were perfect. Keep it gritty. Follow the patterns of your life. Going against the grain takes up way too much time and energy.

Being a failure is FUN! Keep up the good work. Make a pattern of failing and you’ll soon be a success (at least in my eyes) and just for the record, my eyes are quite pretty. Hazel with flecks of gold. Truly. At least when I’m bawling my eyes out and sitting close to the mirror.




Every morning after writing the ten things that are wrong with your life, repeat them out loud. Then, remind yourself “Change is hard”.













Welcome all setbacks. In fact, hang back with the setbacks. Talk about all your setbacks and never come up with solutions. This is a good way to go about life. When you fall in the mud, just lay in it for a while. Failures enjoy the squish. They enjoy the stain. So much so, they often purposely get themselves there.


Find a puddle, or if you really want to take it up a notch, find a pile of fresh dog shit. Step in it. See? Isn’t your life hard? Go step in another pile of shit. Now, go tell five people how hard your life is, and what bad luck you’re having. Wait at least a day or two, before you scrape off the bottom of your shoe.

Look how good you are at taking direction! I’m so impressed.

All in all, smell the shit. Get a good whiff. Enjoy that stink. Wade in the cesspool of your life. Don’t it feel like home?



Pulling yourself up by your bootstraps isn’t for successful failures, it’s for followers. Everybody learns to try to do that. Pulling yourself up by the bootstraps is an overused, trite phrase. As a successful failure, you are going to do something different. You are going to stay down and explore the failure. Wear your figurative galoshes, and get stuck in it. Repeat this over and over ad infinitum. Kinda like purgatory. Only this is your life.

The truth of it is, when you’re a stellar failure, purgatory almost seems like heaven.

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