The Sound of Failure

Failure is usually measured in absolutes.  Your tire can fail, leaving you stranded along the side of the road.  A water heater can fail, forcing you to suffer through an icy shower.  A sports team can fail and lose a single game or a shot at a championship.

Those scenarios are very black and white, but how do you tell if a life has been a failure?  It’s not as simple to assess the success of years of decisions and outcomes, and often the best you can do is to compare one life against the lives of several peers.

I have a perverse habit of constantly comparing my own life against the lives of others, be they friends, family, random acquaintances on facebook or even people I’ve never met.  This always ends with me coming out on the short end of the comparison and end up feeling that the sum total of my actions and decisions over 38 years of life has been a complete waste with nothing at all to show for or be proud of.

My girlfriend and I spent the past weekend in a small colony of vacation homes in Old Lyme, CT.  It’s the kind of place where families rent a tidy little home close to the beach for a week or two.  You see all kinds of people either walking to and from the private beach or making the rounds on golf carts.  I spent most of our time there fantasizing about having enough money to rent one of these places and spend a week relaxing and entertaining friends.

Upon returning home and being faced with the prospect of heading back to a job that not only can’t pay for a vacation home but can’t even pay our rent without help, I felt the crushing weight of failure descend upon me.  I can barely pay the bills and put gas in my car while my peers post pictures of their vacations in locales around New England and beyond.  Have I failed at life, or am I just failing to appreciate what I do have?  It’s easy to lose perspective when I am being cruel to myself and playing the game of “How I don’t Measure Up.”  It’s a game I wish I could stop playing because there is no way to win, and the only prize is a big pile of self loathing.

~ by schlippo on June 22, 2015.

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