Do you ever go through those phases – be it just a few hours or even a few weeks – where you think you’re a complete and utter failure? I’m not talking #epicfail putting Savlon on your toothbrush or spilling your Honest Burger down your new Cos shirt. I’m talking about that “oh my god what am I even doing here I’m failing at life I just cant even anymore!” panic that floods all over you like a giant salty wave, knocking off your sunglasses and taking your bikini top with it. It leaves you feeling panicky, confused, and well, just a bit exposed.
To be truthful, I have these phases a lot. It comes as part of the parcel of being a twenty-something graduate working in a creative industry, living in London and trying to build a life/career that’s as glossy as my instagram makes it out to be. Sometimes I can’t ignore the voice in the back of my head that’s saying “You can’t do this” because ultimately, it’s hard to argue with a voice that’s your own.
Are you guilty of this? I certainly am. When something doesn’t work out, like you don’t get the job you interviewed for, it’s easy to be counterproductive and doubt your capabilities. But this doesn’t mean there was something wrong with you, it just means that there was someone else they saw as a better fit. You don’t know the other side of the story, so don’t make it up in your head.
Instead, think about everything else that you have accomplished- I bet that it’s more than you think. Whenever something goes a little tits up for me this is the first thing that I do. So I didn’t get that job, but I did get a distinction in my Masters degree, and I have some exciting freelance work coming up. Plus, the interview was really great experience and I’ll be much better prepared for the next one. Suddenly, you feel less like a failure when you weigh up exactly how far you’ve already come.
It’s so easy when you’re failing at something to gloss over and pretend like it’s not happening. That’s just a simple coping mechanism. Ignore it and it’ll go away, right? Just bury your head in the sand until it all blows over. Wrong. If you know you’re failing then just admit it and deal with it. Everyone makes mistakes and messes up sometimes, it’s natural. How else do we learn? There’s a lot to be learnt from past failures, so work out what went wrong and how you can be better in the future.
Soooo my best friend just got a promotion at work and is being paid a shit tonne of money and has an amazing title as fancy-pants executive of whatever. LinkedIn keeps emailing me telling me to congratulate her, and although I’m happy for her, all I want to do is feel sorry for myself that I’m not as fabulous as she is. Stop comparing your life to your friends. People work differently and cope differently in certain scenarios. Just remember that everyone’s life journey is completely different and there is not one straight route to success.
People who feel like failures quite often also tend to be pretty stubborn. Why’s that? Because the people who feel as if they are failing are the ones who are too stubborn to ask for help. Pride has a lot to do with this. I have a lot of pride, so asking for someones help sometimes makes me feel like I’m compromising my pride. This is entirely counterproductive, so drop the ego, and just ask for help.
As I’ve said before, no journey to success is ever straightforward, and everyone feels like they’re failing something at some point. Talking to friends about it helps because it puts it into perspective that everyone’s human and everyone has low points. Their stories of how they dealt with feeling like a complete failure will probably help to inspire you to pull yourself together and keep pushing.