Dealing With A Perceived Lack Of Success

by Caitlin Rondino

The socially accepted and expected norm for a 20-something-year-old is to get into college, pursue a degree, graduate and go on to contribute to the world in some way. Hopefully you will have acquired a steady peer group, a job that fulfills your needs and if you’re lucky, maybe a significant other.

One would think that it being 2013, there would be more interpretations to this ideal existence in your early twenties, but most people are still comparing their lives to the implied expectation. This isn’t to say that there isn’t anyone who has reached the expectation and loves every minute of life, but what about the ones who haven’t and aren’t?

Because things don’t go exactly how we thought they would or we feel inadequate because we couldn’t live up to the implied expectation, we develop a perceived lack of success. We didn’t end up where “everyone else” ended up or when they ended up there. For whatever reason, this feeling develops and it’s natural to feel like a failure.

But if those feelings are ignored for too long or you’re wallowing in them, that negative attitude will begin to permeate into other areas of life. A negative attitude metastasizes and we can all see exactly how miserable you feel. This won’t exactly do wonders for your social life. You don’t look attractive as a friend or a romantic interest.

I can relate because I lived with the negative attitude for years before I realized that I was the sole culprit for this perceived lack of success, and not because I wasn’t thinking clearly, but because I wasn’t doing a damn thing to change it. I will leave it up to your imagination as to what kind of guys I ended up with. Sitting in limbo waiting for someone to assign you your destiny is not something anyone should hold his or her breath for. I sat in limbo for a few years and hopefully to no one’s surprise, nobody assigned me my purpose in life.

Snapping out of this mindset is easier said than done and that can’t be sugar-coated. It is a matter of wanting to be done, blaming the world for our problems and being bitter with the people who never had those problems in the first place. It won’t be an overnight transformation, but the transformation won’t occur if nothing is done to kick start it. We have two options: either we can sit on our asses and settle for less or, we can correct our thought processes and fight for this so called sh*tty life.

We’re all so quick to give people advice, but never to apply it to our existence. I used to be that person too. Until I woke up one day realizing that everything terrible that had happened to me wasn’t a stroke of bad luck or the universe working against me, it’s because I had the wrong idea about everything around me. I was also in serious denial about it. I may not know exactly who I am yet, but I’m damn sure that I don’t want to be that girl.

The first step in battling this destructive conception of ourselves is to first define what success means to us. It isn’t a one-size fits all concept, what success means to one person doesn’t have to apply to you or anyone else. If having a family and being a 1950s type of housewife is your vision of success, then I say put on your apron and a smile. The second is admitting that you are the only one stopping yourself from succeeding.

Stop comparing yourself to everyone else your age. You’re an individual whether you like it or not, so don’t try to be like anyone else. You’ll feel a sense of failure tenfold with that approach. I find there’s more dignity in sucking at being who you are than sucking at being someone else.

We’re all allowed to feel our feelings when we feel like it, but trying to measure our potential against someone completely different won’t make us feel any better, nor does it make any sense. Take the time from wondering and worrying what could have been or what will be. Just open your eyes to what’s in front of you and make something out of it.

Don’t get into a relationship. Let’s face it: you aren’t fit for one if you’re feeling like this. You aren’t happy with yourself, your surroundings or your accomplishments so bringing some poor innocent individual is probably the worst idea. It’s just another distraction from focusing on you and fixing what needs fixing. You’re also inevitably going to make someone else miserable and that won’t make you feel any better about yourself. Get your life together before attempting to mesh with someone else’s.

It’d be beneficial to ditch the routine because chances are it's blocking out experiences that could potentially dissolve this perceived lack of success. It obviously hasn’t worked either if you’re feeling unsuccessful and without direction.

If all else fails or you need a bit of a fire lit under your ass, talk to a therapist. It doesn’t mean you’re crazy nor does it mean you have some lingering mental disorder. It means you gave hearing the truth half a chance. Because you are most likely the problem and it’s a very difficult thing to come to terms with, but it is worth every minute of the struggle. There’s nothing wrong with getting some honest and professional insight.

Parents, siblings, friends and whomever else we’re comfortable with cannot give us insight of that nature. They aren’t being malicious or trying to hold you back from being successful. But they aren’t objective in your life and therefore cannot give you objective advice. There’s too much emotional investment from these people because they know you, they know your life and they most certainly have an opinion about it. The emotions need to be removed if you want to move forward. The truth sucks, but we need to hear it.

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