I’m a failure because I don’t have a good job. Because I haven’t found a special someone yet. Because my body isn’t the right shape. Because I’m poor. Who I am is not good enough.
So many people relate to those words. Why is the default mental narrative of so many people, “I’m a failure and I have no hope of getting better”?
Who put those poisonous words in your head? Who taught you to feel so much shame? I don’t think this is you. I think you’re trying to live someone else’s life; you’re walking in someone else’s shoes and stumbling because they don’t fit right.
Society has a lot of expectations about your life. Society has a scoring rubric about what a good career looks like, or a happy relationship, or a nice body. Society projects a lot of ideals onto us about the “right life.” And I think you’re crushing your toes trying to fit into a shoe that was just not made for you.
I’m not trying to tell you that you shouldn’t try to change. If you’re anything like me, you’ve got issues, you have scars, and there’s a lot you want to do better. And it’s good to try and do better. But you’re not going to go very far if you keep hobbling in that ridiculously poor-fitting shoe. The first step in figuring out how to stop hating yourself is to realize that the shoe doesn’t fit and it may never fit.
You Don’t Fit the Mold
The mold society has is just a guide that helps society survive. You are not a failure just because you don’t fit the mold life tried to force onto you – everyone had different experiences growing up, we have different skills, different passions, different fears. Of course we will all turn out differently.
Here’s how that mold is supposed to work: If everyone in a society tries to be healthy and climb the ladder at work, then the society would conceivably prosper. The mold itself, however, is not designed to make you happy, it’s not designed with an individual in mind, and it is impossible that more than a handful of random people could fit it perfectly. That’s why we tend to glorify workaholics and successful entrepreneurs. These are all individuals that happen to benefit the economy or their community in an obvious way. Society teaches us to value the things that are good for society – not things that are good for ourselves as individuals. If we don’t fit that mold, it’s easy to think maybe our worth is less.
You are not a failure. You are just trying to wear someone else’s shoes. Stop tearing yourself apart and saying, “I’m a failure because X.” Instead, ask if X is actually important to you or if society just said it was. Ask yourself what is really important to you and focus on that.
I spent so many nights hating myself because my career was mundane. I felt broken because I was introverted and didn’t like going out. I thought I was hideous and ugly because I didn’t have a six-pack. I thought something was wrong with me because I didn’t know how to be what society wanted.
That’s horseshit. Working 80 hours a week isn’t actually important to me. Going to bars or clubs wasn’t important to me. And I could be perfectly healthy without having a six-pack. So why did I treat those like failures?
What’s Important in Life?
I don’t know you. I don’t know the things about yourself that you really want to change and which parts simply don’t match the blueprint society gave you. But I need you to think about it. I need you to ask yourself what’s important in life. Ask yourself who you want to be. Society doesn’t know what is best for you. And life won’t get better until you figure that out for yourself.
The best you is someone who enjoys each day. Someone who doesn’t tear themselves apart because their values are different from society’s. Someone who learns what is important on a personal level and tries to be a better version of him- or herself. Someone who is not just trying to be like someone else.
Accepting who you are doesn’t mean you’re perfect and shouldn’t try to improve. It just means you’re not a failure for who you are today. We’re all works in progress. And if we stop hating ourselves for five minutes, we can look around and enjoy taking one step forward today…even if there are a lot of steps left.
When you get to the end, it’s over. When you get to your last step, you’re going to wish you had taken your time and smelled the roses along the way. You’re never going to be perfect, so don’t wish away the days that you’re getting better. You’ve got to figure out how to stop hating yourself and try to accept who you are and enjoy your time on this earth.
Stop trying to live someone else’s life. This is your life, and you can’t get it back once it is gone.
If this resonated with you then I highly recommend The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. It’s a short novel about finding what is important to you, and it’s helped a lot of people disengage from the society life gave them – one they never wanted. You will never be happy while living someone else’s life, so take off those horrible shoes. They’re causing you so much pain; you’ll go much further when you determine what’s important in life and proceed to live the life that fits you.