You know, I’ve started to realize something. I’m not smart. I never was. My mom would always go on and on about how amazingly smart I was and how I would get straight A’s if I just turned in the work. And I appreciate her support, I understand where she’s coming from. But it’s just a lie. I can’t become anything in life. I don’t have the ability. I just laze around all day procrastinating. I can’t be a doctor, or a lawyer, or anything else that I want to be. I’m taking summer school this year because I failed two of my classes. I can never be the person I want to be. And a real low-blow is knowing that my sister is better than me. The sister that left home, the sister that is only 15. She was the same as me, not doing good. But now she’s getting the A’s, she’s getting the motivation. And I feel like I’m standing still waiting for something to click. Something to get me out of this hole I dug myself into. But I can’t find a way out. I just need to know how to climb out.
Hey friend, this is really tough. I know a little bit about finding purpose. I’m still working on mine at 33. There’s a saying that “idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” That really means a lot to me as it pertains to finding whatever your purpose is. The procrastinating, that’s what has always held me back, just like you. I know how hard and exhausting it is to keep busy, but I hope you try. If I could talk to the twenty-something year old me, that’s probably what I would tell him. I really tried to, but I dove into work hardcore and work is such a time sink. I think what I would actively like to work on today is staying busy with a lot of different things. Things that are good for me and things I enjoy that get me away from the things that are bad for me.
Try not to be so hard on yourself though. It sounds like you have some really good things happening for you too. I really understand the passion behind always wanting more though. I am really intense with it. That drive can propel you to really cool endeavors, but if you’re feeling bad about something it can totally destroy you emotionally too.
What do you think you need to start feeling better?
No one is better than you, because no one can be you. You, as an individual, have a unique heart and unique spirit, a unique story and a unique way to see the world around you. Unfortunately, we can only lose at the comparison game, especially since we’re more likely to compare ourselves to others when we already feel like we’re nothing. But that’s not true. Your sister has her own skills and qualities, she’s following her own path. It’s true for your mother too, and it is true for you. Not everyone progresses in life the same way or at the same pace, which makes “failure” and “success” some very relative concepts. The only person you can compare yourself with, if you want it to be helpful, is you. Now, what does this dissatisfaction say about you? Certainly not that you would be worthless, or a failure, or incapable to achieve anything. It only displays the fact that there is a gap between who you are today, and who you want to be. And you know, this feeling is something we can certainly all relate to, in our own ways. Just because no one is perfect at any given time.
You’re doing something very strong by sitting down and saying: “okay, something is not working right now, I am not where I want to be in life”. Even more, you’re acknowledging a reason behind this feeling: procrastination. As a huge procrastinator myself, my heart goes out to you. Unfortunately, we often mistake it with laziness while it’s not. Procrastination is more than often a habit that we develop in order to compose with a certain amount of anxiety. In your situation, as well as in mine, this anxiety is likely to be tied to what we believe about ourselves: “I am a failure, I am worth nothing, I am unable to achieve anything”. I don’t believe in myself either. Honestly I believe there’s nothing good in me and I have nothing interesting to share with this world. Heck, I haven’t been able to actively find a job for more than a year because of that. I can’t help but thinking too often that I’m probably just too lazy and my partner would probably have a better life without the burden that I am. It’s brutal, it’s how it feels, but somehow I know, rationally, that it’s unfair to think about myself in these terms. I’m sure there is a part of you, right there in your mind, that knows that you are being too hard on yourself too.
Procrastination is not a fatality, but it requires us to work on the reasons why we develop this habit of avoiding what needs to be done. Oftentimes there’s a fear of success, or failure, or both, or even just the discomfort of doing. If deep inside we’re convinced that we’re going to fail, then it makes sense that we don’t really want to actually experience that and end thinking “pff, I knew it already”. Through action though, we can learn to prove to ourselves that we are wrong for believing such negative things about ourselves. If we don’t try, we never learn. If we don’t dare to put ourselves out there, we never give ourselves the opportunity to live, eventually to fail yes, but also to succeed. When you try, my friend, you cannot fail, you can only achieve what you want, or learn and be closer to your goal. What matters is to get unstuck from the inaction, step by step, and why not with the help of a professional too. Therapists can be a huge, huge pillar of strength when we feel stuck in our life or overwhelmed with the same patterns of behavior.
There is a quote of Thoreau that says “What a man thinks of himself, that it is which determines, or rather indicates, his fate.” - Dare to change the narrative, friend. Dare to challenge these thoughts that make you believe that you are not able to do anything. These thoughts are not conveying the truth, and it doesn’t have to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. You are the agent of your life. And I know it’s scary because living is scary. Somehow we wish we could be able to know everything and achieve everything we want very easily. But know that ultimately we’re all human, we’re all learning, we’re all failing at times, even the ones that seem to have it all together and seem to be always successful. You have your part to do in this life and it’s okay if you need the help of others or a professional to do that. Don’t let this “I’m such a failure” be the fuel of your actions - or lack of. You’re not a failure. You just need to learn how to actually see the beauty and strength that’s within you.