essay

when life doesn’t go according to plan

There is this idea that you can set your goals and dreams and go for it and achieve them, but then there are thousands (or millions) of people who have a different reality: they have goals, they work towards them the absolute best they can, and then they fail.

A writer gets rejected, not just for one book, but for dozens of them.

A lawyer hopes to change the world and help people, but ends up working on messy divorces and collecting money.

A young college student wants to study mammals, but ends up studying insects and then getting stuck in a job as an underpaid lab assistant.

People get rejected constantly: they interview for jobs and then get the call a few days later that someone else was chosen. They apply to their favorite school and they don’t get in.

There are those dealing with even bigger problems: infertility, major health problems, death, tragedy, and so much more.

We don’t celebrate those moments. We don’t talk about the failure. We often hide it. We don’t see articles and books about people who have repeatedly dealt with disappointment without the eventual positive conclusion–in most stories, failure is merely a stepping stone on the pathway to eventual success.

But so many people don’t get that success and have to reframe their life and kill their dreams.

I am sort of tired reading about self-help books from successful people about how other people can be successful too. Because that’s not how the world works. We have humongous failures and mistakes in our life. We have persistent weaknesses and constant rejection.

And that’s just as human and real as those successes. And we need to talk about it more–and not just in a way where we keep encouraging people to keep going until they finally succeed, or we romanticize struggles with an inspiration moral at the end.

We need to embrace that there are average people doing average things and that is what makes the world work. For every major success, there are usually so many failures without any happy conclusions.

(I’ve probably written this exact same thing before, but I don’t mind repeating myself.)

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