Sunday, August 31, 2014

Failure sucks

I am a failure.

Or, maybe I should say, I feel like a failure -- as in lacking professional (and personal) success.

As in, no matter how hard I work or try, it seems I never succeed, or my efforts fail to get noticed or make money. Apparently, like the poster says, my best just isn't good enough.

And as anyone who has studied really hard for a test, or spent days working on a paper, prepared really hard for a presentation, or worked her ass for a promotion or raise, only to get a poor grade, have the presentation fall flat, or get passed over for that promotion can tell you, failure sucks.

Sure, I know that somewhere out there there are people who have failed worse than I have. At least I think there are. I don't really know because you never (or rarely) read about them. Or you only read about them after they have failed and then become enormously successful. Or they failed so spectacularly that they make front page news.

Just read Inc. and Fast Company or The New York Times or Business Insider. (Or don't. It's reading all those entrepreneur and blogger success stories that got me to start my own blog and ecommerce business -- and into this funk.)

And while failing rarely feels good, social media has made us small-time, run-of-the-mill failures feel even worse. Indeed, if I am to believe everyone's Facebook or Twitter feed, I am the only failure out there.

By the way, for all of you out there reading this and saying "J! No wonder you are a failure. You have a bad attitude. You need to think positively! What you need is... a vision board!" Fuck you. And I mean that in the kindest, nicest way. It's like telling someone who is upset or stressed out "Just relax!" (Which doesn't work either.) Or "You need to meditate! And join a book club!" (Been there, done that. Feel worse.)

If I am a pessimist -- or, as I like to say, a realist -- it's because I did everything I was supposed to (or was told I needed or had to do); followed all the rules; and yet never won or got the promised reward. While I saw people who cheated or cut corners or just knew the right person get ahead.

Wait. What's that I hear? Tiny violins? Playing just for me? Yes, I hear them, too.

But the point of this post is not to elicit your sympathy. (Though if you do feel even the tiniest bit sorry for me or want to make me feel a little less like a failure, share a link to this blog and/or to my ecommerce clothing business on your social media feeds or blogs -- or just buy a t-shirt or polo shirt.)

Frankly, I'm not exactly sure what the point of this blog post is. Maybe it's to feel a little less alone -- to feel as though I am not the only one out there (or here) who spent days, or weeks, or months, or years laboring over something, really giving it my all, or my best, only to have it fall flat or not be noticed by anyone. (If you write an article or create a business and no one knows about it or talks about it on social media, have you actually written an article or created a business?)

Btw, that's not a call for you to one-up me with your failure stories. ("You think you failed? Let me tell you about the time I failed!") Or tell me about your dieting failures. (Please, I'm begging you, don't.) Or to humble brag about your failure. (Complaining about getting a million dollar bonus while your buddy got a five-million-dollar bonus does not make you a failure. It makes you a jerk.) But I could use, or would appreciate, a little company.


Anonymous said...

You have a nice home, nice husband, beautiful daughter and plenty of good friends....Define failure in that context ?

lindaroo said...

I fell deeply into depression following a failure/rejection. It's no fun. I'm so sorry to hear you're being crushed right now. Your perspective on life so often shines light on difficult subjects. May the light shine back on you, soon.

J. said...

@lindaroo, thank you for sharing and your lovely comment. It means a lot to me.

Another David S. said...

It's important to bear in mind that we live in a materialist society, where unrealistic notions of success and failure are ingrained in the national character. Once you look beyond the simple here (U.S.) and now (21st century)--which I find much easier to do, the older I get--you understand that true success, in human terms, is staying alive, healthy, loved, and fed. Beyond that, nothing much matters. We're all going back to the dirt, after all, and all this culture and striving and "progress" we think so highly of will sooner or later (likely sooner) go the way of civilizations past, with the exception that most of what we've accomplished will be stored not on paper or stone but in electronic forms that, if even salvageable, will be incapable of being read by future generations. So, you know, why get so hung up on busting our butts?

Or to put it on an even larger scale: all humanity as we know it exists during a small break between ice ages. No matter how noble the dirt we leave behind, it's all going to end up ground into silt. So find some way to take satisfaction in where (and who) you are, and leave the rest to the ice and the dirt.

Does that help? ;-)

J. said...

@Another David S., sigh. You just gave the spouse more fodder, or reasons, to not make the bed in the morning. But I did smile and laugh when I read your comment -- and I agree. So, thank you. I think.

larissa said...

I thought I posted a comment - and a reply to "Anonymous" - but no, both were a complete FAIL. You, J, on the other hand are not one though I sure can understand, and relate to, everything you're saying. I don't think I ever even tried the fucking book club.

J. said...

@larissa, well you successfully posted that comment (though I would love to see your original one; email it, please). Thank you. Btw, I just signed up for a pilates lesson. Will let you know if it makes me more popular (or at least less depressed).

Lizzy said...

J. - I can so relate and am sorry you are feeling this way. I agree with you - social media rarely helps - it usually highlights how "great" everyone else is. But we rarely know what goes on behind closed doors, and as history has shown, many people who seemingly have "perfect" lives actually don't. I too hope the light shines back on you. In the meantime, be good to yourself and remember you are talented and loved. The sun will shine again. We may be silt by then, but we'll be warm silt.

J. said...

@Lizzy, thank you for your comment. I definitely feel like warm silt today. (It must be at least 90 degrees here and very humid.) :-)

Indeed, thanks to everyone who has left a comment or emailed me with their fail stories.

My ego and sense of self worth have taken a beating the last couple or so years. It used to be that being a good writer was enough to get you work. Now in order to get paid, or keep your job, you have to get tens of thousands of page views, which requires whoring, or pimping, your work on social media. It doesn't matter what you know anymore, it seems, but who you know. As someone who loves and values good writing, and is an introvert, that makes things very hard.

And my ecommerce business, a business I spent many months and many thousands of dollars on, has been a bust. I didn't lose my house or go bankrupt, but it still hurts. And failure is never fun.

As for your comment @Anonymous, I know you meant well, at least I think you did, but to answer your question: I never had a boyfriend until I was 25, and then I practically had to beg that guy to marry me. I've now been married for over 21 years, but when I was younger and single, I felt like a total failure, especially as all of my girlfriends had boyfriends. As for the beautiful daughter, I failed to conceive for three years and we were diagnosed as unable to have children, while all of my friends were getting pregnant, often on their first or only try. Talk about feeling like a failure. Then we found out I was pregnant and had our daughter. A miracle. We tried to have more children, but we were unable to. I often felt like a failure, though, even though I had this healthy child, because it seemed like everyone in the small town we lived in had three kids and people constantly asked me when we were going to have more kids. But I do not feel a failure as a mother (or a wife). In fact, being a great mom to my beautiful AND SMART daughter is possibly my greatest accomplishment. As for good friends, I wish I could say I had "plenty." But I feel grateful for the couple I have.