26 and feeling like a failure

“woman touching her hair in front of mirror” by Mikail Duran on Unsplash

At 26:

  • I have lived on 4 continents,
  • I have traveled to over 25 countries,
  • I have earned 2 masters degrees from top institutions with excellence scholarships,
  • I have worked for some of the most exciting companies on the planet,
  • I have cultivated for 6 years a happy relationship with a girl I love more than anything,
  • I have never lied to, cheated or betrayed anyone,
  • I have bootstrapped a company with 5 full-time employees, 6 figure revenue from my campus dorm,
  • I have always respected and loved my parents and family,
  • I have always helped those I could,

It is definitely weird to list out ones accomplishments like this.

But, here is the thing.

I often feel like a complete failure.

Not all the time, but sometimes I can get deeply saddened by this feeling.

In this article, I will try to deconstruct where this feeling comes from.

And also how and why it can affect young people.

I hope it may help you.

It’s more of a feeling, but, I have always struggled with “fitting in”.

I have put aside the idea of having a “normal” corporate career early on.

It just didn’t fit with me. I have chosen an entrepreneurial, independent path, which is very different and one could argue, harder.

Harder, because, far less scripted.

But, that’s not the problem.

The problem is that being “different” can build up so much unconscious guilt.

You could be different in so many ways but taking responsibility for being different and acting on it can be exhausting.

Younger, you are taught to fit in.

At 26, you are still young. And I believe you haven’t learned how to manage that difference.

So, you feel guilty.

And this can definitely be increased by your environment. For example, if your family disapproves or when you see other people happily fitting in, and you are not.

The way to cure that guilt requires:

  • Accepting your difference consciously everyday. You can use a few helpful tools like, meditating or keeping a diary for example. I have picked up both. The idea is to have a platform where you can look inward and understand yourself better. Take a few psychological tests as well, such as MBTI, or Enneagram tests. Apparently I am an INTP, which explains a lot.
  • Meeting people like yourself. Communities can unload you of that guilt. It shows you are not alone. Hanging out with other young struggling entrepreneurs has always helped me.
  • Working hard on your “vision of success”. Work hard and harder. Being different, means you have a different “vision of success”. Only when working towards that vision of success and seeing that you can accomplish it, you’ll see the guilt alleviate.

So you have guilt as a companion. It’s definitely a burden.

And you can add another burden: not having a clear and personal vision of success.

Success can be defined as a set of subjective metrics, only you can measure. You can see success in something, where someone else doesn’t, because you are not using the same metrics.

And, you can apply these subjective metrics to different areas of your life, your personal relationships, your work, your finances, your children, your involvement in the community…

So success is a function of 2 things:

  • Subjective metrics within an area (“I choose to measure success this way in this area of my life”)
  • The different areas in which you want to apply these metrics (“I choose to measure success in this area, this area and this area etc..”).

The combination of these 2 factors creates your vision of success.

And it’s so easy to have the “wrong” one.

By “wrong”, I mean adopting an external vision of success, conveyed by the culture, family, friends…We grew up with external ideas of success and hold them true.

It’s only by realising and quitting this external vision of success, that you can strengthen your sense of self-worth.

No, you might not need that house, car, relationship, status, job, company and so forth; those were maybe not your ideas in the first place.

What is it that you truly need? How much of it do you truly need?

If you are in your 20’s, you probably haven’t figured it out yet.

It takes time to explore those different areas of our lives by which we measure success.

Accepting that chaos can only save you a lot of pain.

You are not a failure, you are in a process.

And time is your best friend. Despite what you might think.

Hope this story helped you. If it did, leave some claps, or follow us on Medium. :)

Co-Founder @ Implement. 👉 join-implement.com | Podcast Host | Book Author