When You Feel Like You’re Failing At Life

I realised life is always a challenge of being in or out. Right or wrong. Enough or not. The right fit or the wrong fit. Accepted or rejected. Chosen or left behind. Winner or loser. Making the cut or not making the cut. Every single thing in life seems to have a line and your constant battle is to cross the right side of it. You battle for a job. You battle for a relationship. You battle to be loved. You battle to stay healthy. You battle for being acknowledged. Everything seems to have become a question of either enough or not at all. There is no in between. You gain or you lose. And that is hard and messed up most days.

Yesterday I received some unfortunate news. Currently, I am a final year medical student and honestly, life is tough. Not only is medicine something that takes you several years to complete, meaning you’re kind of old when you get there, it saps you from all strength and time to live a full life. You give up your life to save someone else’s in more ways than people think. In every way. Having never failed an exam throughout my 6 years, today I was told I did not pass my surgical exams and need to repeat them in June. Talk about feeling like an epic, idiotic failure. Knowing I’ve started at the top and been through many hurdles to get where I am it now feels like they’ve pushed me down to the bottom, where I mostly crawl to move through and carry on, when you hit a wall that makes you doubt your capabilities and you realise life seems like you’re just having fall after fall, you tend to wonder… What if I’m done? What if I’m too ruined… Too damaged… Too far gone to keep going and my mind has hit a wall it cannot get past? And time isn’t waiting. You look around you and see people your age married, some with children and some so far ahead in life and you’re just here crawling through with no strength of mind or body to even try live for more and yet you try anyway. You’re working so hard to keep the air moving in and out of your lungs and you’re trying to be enough to make the cut. But what if trying to be enough is a fight you’re sick of fighting?

I have the habit of kicking myself more when I’m already on the ground and my mind runs in a million different directions, considering every single choice I’ve made and am yet to make, where I am going and is it where I still should head? Planning for plan B, C and D in case you break irreperably and you’re cornered. My mind jumps ahead to every single possible outcome. Am I going to be able to be mentally strong enough to survive this world and reach more than just crawling and falling and lagging behind? Am I ever going to be enough? Enough for someone else, enough for the world and enough for myself. Because really, all it ever seems one is trying to do is prove one’s adequacy because that is how the world now works. The world’s greatest question is, “How adequate are you?”

Not all of you have the same career path but I believe many of you face the same choices and struggles and have thoughts that run away with your sanity when it’s 2AM and you’re lying in bed, staring at the ceiling amidst the blackness you’re submerged in. Your life is just not how you thought it would be and you’re just not where you thought you’d be… Right? Crawling and just getting by and having walls hit you in the face with a tired mind being stretched to limits you aren’t sure you can hold onto much longer.

It’s one hell of a fight you need to fight. The bad news? It’s never going to be less of a fight. You are always going to have a fight to fight. One morning in my anger towards life I wrote this; “Well, life goes on, right? Even if it hurts, even if you bleed, even if you fall and even of you cry. You can’t control it. You can’t change it. Even if your heart breaks. Even if you’re tired. It just. Goes. On. Because what can you do? What can you say? You cannot bend the rules. You just have to go on. Even if it isn’t fair. Even if you’re tired. Even if you feel stuck. You are choiceless. You go on. Because life demands it and you cannot break its rules.” Those are pretty direct words that are like ice water being thrown over your head while you sleep.

So then how do you keep motivating yourself to keep doing this? How do you get yourself to the point where you want to wake up every morning without dread? Without wondering why everything you love always gets taken away from you no matter how hard you fight and bleed for it. You just do. You crawl your way through if you have to. You keep moving forward one day at a time and you have hope that everything will work out for the best. Even if you don’t understand it. Even if it hurts you tremendously. You take the hits and you stand. Life is just a gamble. You would never know how great or bad it might be but you don’t get to give up on it because that means you gave up on yourself. You’re already hurt, you’re already in pain. So get a reward from it. And if at the end of the day there wasn’t a reward, you rest in the fact knowing you didn’t back down, you didn’t quit and that makes you brave and strong. You know you fought with dignity. You need to know that.

You need to also remember that everything happens in its own time for everyone. No one has the same story, the same monsters to fight, the same thoughts and approach to life. You are the sum total of every moment of your life and no one had those same moments. So you can’t constantly compare yourself to others and feel like you are less than. What matters is that you have a hope of a place where you’d like to be and you are repeatedly deciding every single day to get up for that hope. Even if you do it with a broken heart, you don’t stop. And through the process, even if it’s hard, you have to try to persistently find the beauty within something in it. No matter how small. Even if you pretend to believe until someday you actually really believe.

Faith is all we have. Faith and moments. Moments that are gut wrenchingly terrible and painful, moments that just are, moments that are great and moments that are beautiful. In all these billions of moments you will have in your life I can guarantee you, you will have moments that feel significant and worth it. I could say live for those moments, but I rather want to say, live for all moments. Even the difficult ones and painful ones. They touch you in ways that change something in you – ignites a feeling, a thought… That ultimately leads to a choice, an action or a lesson.

Life is tough my darling, but so are you.

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4 thoughts on “When You Feel Like You’re Failing At Life

  1. “Life is tough my darling, but so are you.” Yes it is, and, yes, are you! I had a hunch this past week that the exams had not gone well, but wasn’t going to ask unless you were ready to tell it. I’m sorry you have to repeat them and I hold the thought that you will prevail. When I try to think what all could be covered in an exam on surgery, my mind boggles. Bad news days come and so do good news days, which reminds me of a story, a very old story from China:

    The Farmer’s Horse
    There is a story of a farmer whose horse ran away. That evening the neighbors gathered to commiserate with him since this was such bad luck. He said, “May be.”

    The next day the horse returned, but brought with it six wild horses, and the neighbors came exclaiming at his good fortune. He said, “May be.”

    And then, the following day, his son tried to saddle and ride one of the wild horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. Again the neighbors came to offer their sympathy for the misfortune. He said, “May be.”

    The day after that, conscription officers came to the village to seize young men for the army, but because of the broken leg the farmer’s son was rejected. When the neighbors came to say how fortunately everything had turned out, he said, “May be.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing this. I love this story. As the farmer, I will also trust and say “may be.” My mom always used to say, “It’s not the end, it’s just a bend.” And that too, I will remember.

      Liked by 1 person

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