Failure Is Human

It isn’t an easy thing to feel like a failure. And I do. All the time. I dare these great things, but I can’t do them alone and it never works out having to rely on other people.

We asked for help in every way we could, but in the end we weren’t able to follow through with our plans to hike the AT.

Too much happened, and too much didn’t. We planned and prepared to the best of our ability, but there were just too many unpredictable elements at play. Every avenue for increasing our income fell through. The car had one catastrophic issue after another. My dad was transitioned into palliative care and the reality that I may never see him again became an overwhelming understanding of exactly how much my abuser has deprived me of and taken from me.

We were offered stability. A chance to take a step forward in our lives without having to fight every day to have enough to survive when we have barely been able to afford to eat for months.

Stability seemed like the right choice, but it meant sacrificing our plans to complete a NOBO thru-hike of the AT this year.

Grief isn’t just a process you go through when a loved one passes away, but an active part of everyday life. We shy away from it because it isn’t pleasant and it is usually not very kind, but it can be beautiful if we let it be. If we move with our grief, instead of against it, we can stand a little taller and feel a little bit less like a failure and perhaps understand our humanity all the better.

I feel like a failure because I am incapable of accomplishing a goal I so publicly committed to, but I am grateful for the reminder that I’m only human.

Sometimes the path we need to take is the one with the least resistance. Not because we are incapable of forging our own way, but because we are human and need to rest on occasion.

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Comments 9

  • Matt : Feb 12th

    The trail will always be there for you Lily.

    • Lily Matilda : Feb 13th

      I appreciate that, thank you. We will return one day. As my mama says “goals are immovable, dates are flexible.” I also live in Maine, so we are going to do the Long Trail this summer and then section New England until we can get to Georgia. We are not defeated, we are just in need of a good rest.

  • Luis E Palacios : Feb 13th

    I’d rather not opine, ’cause it would be insultin’.

    Bahh, Humbug. My two cents (Please, do not take it as an insult):

    There will ALWAYS be some sort of inconveniencies (such is life), but short of Renal Dialysis, Pneumonia, Two broken legs, Catatonic Mental State, and few more medical conditions, there are no excuses… Blind people have walked it, lame people have walked it, cripple people have done it (Heck, in 2014 I witnessed two girls with Bifida spine, hiking the AT with crutches, with their 74 yo. grandpa!).

    And, It’s incredible the amount of thru hikers one finds grieving some sort of “catastrophic” event or loss : Divorce, widowhood, job, siblings, mom/dad/grandparent, or bankruptcy; many at different stages of depression. Actually, the “catastrophe” was the trigger that catapulted their adventure. Most live to never regret it.

    Yes, as Matt says: “the trail will always be there for you, Lilly”; but, if you sucumb now, you’ll ALWAYS find an excuse (as you well state. A self fulfilled prophecy).



    • Lily Matilda : Feb 13th

      I’m deaf/hoh, autistic, queer, non-binary, an abuse survivor, and a in the last year 3 people in my life have died and my dad is sitting on his death bed. And that’s the least of what I’ve contended with.
      You think we should throw away stability and sensibility for a Dream we can accomplish when the time is better for us? Our gofundme is linked in my Instagram, which you can find access to through my profile here. You think we should still go out there and get it done? Go ahead and donate that $5k nobody else seems to think we need either.
      You don’t know anyone’s story in full. When you choose criticism and cruelty, don’t quantify it with a statement like “Do not take it as an insult.” When you do that, you minimize my experience and, quite frankly, you are insulting. “Not to be rude”, but you need to revaluate your life.

  • Greg : Feb 13th


    Saddened by your post.

    Life certainly isn’t fair.

    Please don’t give up your dreams or your drive.

    I sense a remarkable spirit in your writing…

    …and I believe in your resilience.

  • Just Bob : Feb 13th

    Good morning,

    Accept your shadows, but keep the fire burning in your soul even if the wind goes silent. Don’t try to drown your demons, they know how to swim and know that sometimes strangers can be angels in disguise.

    Good luck and move forward…

  • Kate Stillwell : Feb 14th

    Lily. Trust in timing. The universe is clearly telling this is not the time for your hike. Trust that it will come at the right time. I didn’t know it, but when I set out SOBO to hike w my daughter in 2017, it was her time not mine. She finished the trail, I came home twice w injuries. The second time with a broken arm and to make sure I couldn’t return to the trail, the arm was set incorrectly requiring that it be re-broken and pinned in surgery. Clearly, the universe spoke and I finally had to listen. Take your difficult personal challenges and work through them carefully and lovingly and trust the door to your hike will open one day. Let go, for now, of the disappointment … the trail isn’t going anywhere … peace

  • DavidM : Feb 14th

    Sometimes life gets in the way. You’ll get it done. In your time.

  • Hal : Feb 22nd

    I (and probably more than a few other blog readers, trek planners and voyeurs) greatly appreciate you sharing your experiences. Many of these blogs abruptly end when their writers drop from the trail and don’t provide any hints why. I don’t think the bloggers owe us readers anything else since they’ve already been putting themselves out there for our education and enjoyment. However, the reasons a person ends (or delays) this type of journey can be just as inspiring and instructional as the reasons they wanted to start. Recognizing we’re human and sometimes need to say “no” is simply another important lesson from the trail. Thank You.

    From Teddy: It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.


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