I do not consider myself the perfect student, and I understand that not everything in life comes easy, but I cannot ignore the fact that I feel so unsuccessful in everything I do nowadays. I failed a major exam, and I try applying for different things but keep getting rejected. I understand that not everything is always going to be a win, but it feels as though the losses outweigh the victories.
The worst part is I know someone who I would not particularly call a friend but more of an acquaintance, who is successful at almost everything they touch. I know for a fact that in everything they go for, they always succeed. I find it almost impossible to not compare myself to them and feel less accomplished. They are more active, do more activities, have more of a social life, are in more executive positions, while I am barely surviving.
I am sorry to hear that you feel like you are barely surviving and that you have had to face rough patches in life domains that you prioritize. Failing an exam certainly stings, but as with any shortcomings in life, try to see what you can learn from the experience before discarding it. Was this a one-time issue, a result of particularly hard questions or not studying enough? Or is it indicative of a trend in that class that means you need to reconsider your current academic focus?
Change what you can to make your circumstances better suited to your strengths, and continue doing your best. Life promises us very little and failure is inevitable. Just as inevitable, however, is the process of getting up, dusting yourself off and trying again.
I encourage you to examine, adapt and move on because wallowing in your own pain will only cause lurking negative feelings to fester. It appears that alongside your fear of drowning in the rising tides of your life, you are also struggling against jealousy. I don’t blame you; it is hard to keep your eyes from wandering towards other people’s paths, especially when they seem to thrive.
It feels almost like a personal slight that they are so content while you feel so miserable, but ask yourself, Red: is the object of your envy going to advertise their failures? This person is your acquaintance, so they have even less reason to open up to you about what is plaguing them. Behind their success is likely a mountain of stressors and fear and impostor syndrome, and they keep the illusion of sparkling success upright for their own sake. You have your own burdens that they are not privy to, so is it fair to assume that they lack a tumultuous inner life?
Perfection is a myth, Red. The object of your envy is only perfect so long as you see them as an object. As soon as you allow yourself to see their human failings, the illusion crumbles. Instead of spending time inside this green world where everyone else is happier than you, return your focus to your own path and work toward your own contentment. The opportunities that have passed you by and the grades that disappointed you are behind you. Ahead is a future that awaits your dedication and it doesn’t need to be perfect. It doesn’t need to look like anyone else’s; it just needs to make you happy. Go make yourself proud.
I believe in you.
Got a question? Ask Aroog at tinyurl.com/askaroog.
Aroog Khaliq is a junior from Overland Park studying English and psychology.