Rest and Rejuvenation Day 26: Feeling like a failure

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Topic of the Day: 
On Failure 

2020 really did a number on all of us. One of the biggest side effects of 2020 for me was the fact that it destroyed so much of the self-esteem that I had made for myself in terms of my work/education. My undergraduate experience was not the experience that I thought I would have. I learned quite a lot of things about who I am as a person and who I am as a student. While I learned that I truly do love learning and being a student, I recognized that there were a lot of other aspects of my life that I had not considered enough. For example, I knew that after 16 straight years of schooling I needed to take a break. Taking this break between undergraduate degree and graduate degree did not mean that I was not smart enough but it’s simply meant that I knew myself enough to take a break. However, 2020 really change that for me. Since graduating in 2017, I had worked so hard to get to a place where I did not think I was less of a person for only finishing a certain amount of school by a certain amount of time. All of that hard work and self-evaluation was destroyed in a matter of 1 year.

Even though I had gotten an undergraduate degree, I became upset with myself for not taking certain opportunities. I also became upset with myself because of the GPA that I graduated with. Frankly, it took me a very long time to separate myself and my worth from that number. It took me a lot of time to understand that just because my GPA was lower than recommended for law school, it did not mean that I would never go to law school. There was more to me than just a simple number. It’s so devastating to know that my mind has forgotten a lot of that. As I watched many of my peers graduate from law school, I rated myself for taking the time off between undergraduate degree and law school. I kept telling myself, “if you had gone straight into law school, you would also be graduating now.” It’s incredibly sad to admit that I can’t remember the last time I felt like such a failure as I did in that moment.

Even putting aside the whole school thing, when my company closed down because of the pandemic and I was left without a job, and I also felt like a failure. Aside from not going to law school, I hadn’t even managed to keep up a job. Obviously, I was fully aware of the fact that it was a pandemic that I did not cars. My company closing down and losing my job was not my fault. It was also something completely out of my control. But for whatever reason, my mind blamed me. I began to over analyze every single decision I had made leading up to that announcement. Maybe if I had done that at an earlier date I wouldn’t have lost my job. Maybe if I had a left the United States at an earlier date I wouldn’t have lost my job. Of course, I wasn’t even considering that any change of decision would not have left me with a job. My company was going to close down regardless of what decision I made.

Which brings us to now, 2021. If I’m being very honest, which I always try to be, riding the above was incredibly hard for me. I don’t know why but admitting that I was not doing well in terms of my work/education was not easy. It was also incredibly hard to admit that I had fallen down the rabbit hole that I had never wanted to come down again. And maybe this is me being a little too hopeful, but the air in 2021 feels a little bit different for me. By the time 2020 ended, I had done quite a lot of work to mentally and emotionally get myself into a better state of mind. I definitely think that that paid off because I am feeling a lot more at peace with the events of 2020 than I was before. I found that there were three main things I had to do in order to move on from feeling like a failure.

I realized near the end of 2020 that I am not the kind of person who can hide her emotions.
One of the most important things that I have to do in order to work through my emotions is actually go through them. I needed to allow myself to feel annoyed or angry or devastated about my current situation. Trying to act chipper and happy about my education was not going to lead me in any good place. After I finally allowed myself to feel my emotions, I came to understand that I made the best decision I could have. Had I gone to law school right after my undergraduate degree, I think that I wouldn’t have done well. The decision I made in 2017 was the right one, even if it was one that I never thought I would make.

Along the same lines, I had to really understand that I was not happy in China. I know that there are people who can work through the cultural differences in a matter of months or even a short amount of time, but I was not one of those people. There were a lot of barriers that I was struggling to walk through. I would get upset with myself because I felt like I wasn’t trying enough. What I didn’t understand was that not every place is going to be for every single person. I gave China a chance, and it was just not for me and that was okay. I will admit that giving China a chance opened my eyes to a better understanding of where I see myself in the future. Even more so, where I don’t see myself in the future. I also learned what I am looking for when I am living in a place. Living in China also confirmed the fact that I can survive in a completely new place by myself. The latter half of 2020 was spent pretty much coming to an understanding of all of these things. I can say that I am at peace with my decision to not return to China, regardless of how hard it was to get here.

The second part of this entire ordeal led me to understand that I am a kind of person who likes to have a plan. Unlike what I previously thought, this plan does not have to be incredibly detailed. Actually, I would prefer it if the plan was not incredibly detailed. Instead, a bare-bones plan is best for me. I’d like to know where I would like to see myself in the next couple of years. And so, after allowing myself to feel all of my emotions, I sat down to research some planning methods, short term and long term. I don’t entirely know where I found this but I came across an article that talked about breaking down goals into increments of 5. I needed to ask myself where I would like to see myself in five days, five weeks, five months, and five years. For whatever reason, those clicked for me. In less than 30 minutes I had the answer to all of these questions. They were specific enough as they needed to be and vague enough that changing them would be pretty simple. At the time of writing the list, one of my goals was to simply read 2 books in 5 days.

The third and final aspect of this trio was to talk it out with people. As much as I love journaling and as much as it has helped me, I’ve come to realize that sometimes I need to simply talk to another person. I tend to journal my feelings out or literally yell it out to the void. I’ve come to realize that this is not really helping me as much. However, talking about my feelings regardless of how hard it is to do it has been incredibly helpful. Whether this is me finally opening up to my family or going into some of my friends I trust, I really want to talk about my feelings with people. I would love to be able to go to therapy but I cannot afford that at the moment.

I don’t entirely know what this post is supposed to do. Maybe it’s just a place for me to vent about how I was feeling in 2020. Or maybe I am hoping to get something out of this post that I haven’t yet found. But I wanted this to be on this blog to help me in the future. These things could change at any time and it could be such a wild adventure. 

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