A letter to my younger self... // What if failure is part of success?

Written by Hayley Swindell

Dear Hayley,

This isn’t the first letter you’ve written to yourself, is it? Of course, it’s not — How many times did you write to yourself after a dramatic breakup in high school telling yourself you might fall in love again if the universe decided it was going to cut you some slack?  

Future you isn’t here to talk to you about boy drama (don’t worry,  you are happily engaged now). No, I’m here to talk about something much better — How you are going to spark inspiration in others, how everything is going to be alright even when it seems like the world is literally working to destroy you, and how you will get through every failure life gifts to you.

I’m writing this letter to you — You drill team enthusiast, queso loving, bookstore junkie, go-getter of a human because you are going to go through some things over the next decade or so that could very well shape the existence of mankind. Kidding. Sort of ;) But seriously — This letter isn’t about overcoming a breakup like the rest — It’s about living life and being okay with the curveballs that are bound to throw you off your perfectly drawn out path.

There a few words I want you to focus on throughout the next several years of your life:

  • Forgiveness — This is going to be a big one. Your family is going to be rocked with ups and downs and they are going to lean on you to fix things. (Heyyy oldest child!) It’s okay if you can’t fix everything. That’s not what this time in your life is about — It’s about loving those who love you the most, and about being there to forgive them for being human. Hey, you’re not perfect either! Remember to forgive others but also remember to forgive yourself.

  • Failure — You might graduate from college, travel to Europe and think there’s nothing that can stop you. True...but also false. You love to study so law school is going to look pretty enticing but oh wait law school is expensive and do you really want to be a lawyer anyway? I thought you loved working in that paper shop? Oh, that’s right, you do! You love people, you love bringing joy to people’s lives and love being surrounded by pretty things. There’s nothing wrong with that. Now how do you do that for a living? Start a business centered around delivering beautiful, philanthropic goods directly to people’s doorsteps? Hey, it’s a start girl. You’ll try lots of things that fulfill you and bring joy to the world. You’ll fail at a lot of things that started with great intention. You’ll feel high...you’ll feel low...you’ll feel lost and then you’ll feel found, and then you’ll do it all over again. Don’t be so hard on yourself — Take a deep breath, shake it off and push yourself to do the things that scare you most.

  • Grace — As you grow personally and in business you will learn that sometimes there are really tough conversations that have to happen in order for you to carry on. People will beat you down with negativity and belittlement, they will treat you poorly because they know they can get away with it. You aren’t perfect either — Sometimes you will let people down. You will make mistakes and the only thing you can do to make them better is to fully own them. As a leader, you will be faced with tough decisions, and people may not always agree with those decisions. That’s okay. Seriously, you have to be okay with that. And you have to handle every single one of those situations with grace — Grace for yourself and grace for others.

I could go on and on with all the words and all the wisdom but truth is that older you still have learning and growing to do as well. I’ll leave you with this for now — You’ve got this. You may feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. It is. But you are strong enough to carry that world as far as you want to take it.

Get it, girl!
Older, wiser, less flexible you.


Hayley Swindell is the founder & CEO of The Refinery, a coworking and event space for the creative community in downtown Austin, Texas. She is a native Austinite with a passion for community, southern hospitality & queso. Hayley graduated from the University of Texas in 2012 with a degree in political science, and worked in nonprofit development, community engagement, event production & e-commerce before taking the plunge into entrepreneurship. When she's not at The Refinery she can be found bopping around Clarksville, where she lives with her fiance and puppy Charlotte. 

Chelsea Francis