Why My 15-Year-Old Self Thinks I'm A Failure, And That's Perfectly Okay

by LySaundra Janeé

I wrote a letter to myself at age 15 filled with dreams and goals.

It included things like college choices, career goals, relationship goals and even a list of my best friends.

According to my teenage self, by this time, I should be married with at least two children and be working my way up the ranks in the entertainment industry to become the next CEO of Viacom.

I should be living life between a house in Beverly Hills, a penthouse in New York City and a quaint little farm in Virginia.

The letter ends with a question for 25-year-old me, asking, "Who are you now?"

I simply smile at the ambition of my younger self, not because I didn't attain — or plan to attain — any of those things and feel like a failure, but because life seemed so simple back then.

Yet, there's still joy even in the midst of my current reality.

My reality is I'm slowly moving toward equilibrium, to a place where I'm unashamed and at peace about what seem like failures in my life.

Funny how a little note from an ambitious 15-year-old version of myself can force me to ponder, reevaluate and accept not achieving what I thought I wanted in life for most of my childhood.

What's even better is to accept such failures.

Maybe I'm a failure, or maybe I'm learning there's more to life than living up to society's expectations: go to school, get a degree, get married, start a family and raise kids who will hopefully repeat your steps.

Who am I?

I'm a college dropout.

I'm only 10 credit hours away from my BA, but I'm still too embarrassed to tell my family because it's not like I can afford to pay for the classes out of pocket.

Besides, I walked at my graduation ceremony over two years ago.

In their eyes, I received my degree long ago.

I left after not being able to continue balancing four jobs to pay rent and the expensive tuition, all while being a student leader and studying for classes.

I never asked for help because I'm incredibly prideful.

Who am I?

I'm perpetually single because I've arrogantly desired perfection since age 9.

I'm sluggishly learning how to accept the flaws of others while choosing to look a little closer at my own.

Even still, I'm terrified I'll expect too much from a significant other and be the girlfriend or wife from hell.

I can pretend to be proud I'm part of a generation where one can openly boast how he or she loves to "Netflix and chill" and how pizza is the greatest boyfriend ever.

But in reality, I cancelled my Netflix subscription to focus on reading more books, and I'm a health snob who doesn't even really like pizza.

Who am I?

I hate working in a conventional setting. Every day, I fight the urge to quit.

I'd rather get paid to build genuine friendships, write, attend educational seminars and people watch.

But no one told that ambitious 15-year-old about student loans.

So what brings me joy cannot be top priority when my entire generation is in educational debt.

Who am I?

I'm a 25-year-old single woman, who recently left a stable job to move halfway across the country to be a part of a church plant in Miami, Florida.

Miami is anything but a typical church city that I was used to in Bible Belt states like Missouri and Tennessee.

I don't creepily try to convert every single person I talk to, so I love seeing the look on people's faces when they learn I moved to a different state solely for a church plant.

People in my generation don't usually do things like that, especially in a place as glamorous as Miami.

Who am I?

I'm someone living with purpose.

I didn't graduate college in four years.

I haven't achieved any of the dreams I dreamt at age 15, but I am living life surrounded by people I love.

I'm living a life where I can screw up and be encouraged to keep persevering.

I'm living a life where I can have flaws and setbacks, but be free from fear of time constraints or biological clocks.

I don't always know who I am, and I don't always have an elevator speech prepared or business cards in my purse.

But, I'm joyful.

No matter what, my life is on purpose.