Failing Successfully At Being Special

How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success?

I’m back home again after a day of corporate warfare and my eyes are tired. My theory is that that weariness happens when you stare at a screen all day. My other theory stems from a soul tiredness which crops up from time to time.

I turn into a mess once in a while, an amalgamation of what-is-even-left-to-live-for and I-need-to-take-a-nap. I’m not suicidal. Maybe I’m just bored. Sometimes life seems so empty. So what if I have a job? I’m grateful. But then what? What if I’ve travelled enough to know it doesn’t change you as much as you hope it will? Then what? My goals are supposed to be as follows: become a homeowner, a parent, a lover, the ultimate free bird, a world-changer, or want to be a billionaire ‘so freakin’ bad’. Then what?

My 11 year old niece told me the other day that she wants to be a celebrity. Not that she wants to be good in anything in particular. She just wants to be a celebrity. She’s entitled to her own dreams but sometimes I find myself asking what is it all for? For other people? If she existed in a vacuum, would she care about celebrity? It isn’t fair that, suppose, she feels a void because she’s not widely known or very rich -as this is how she defines celebrity. When did that work its way up to the top 3 most popular dreams among 11 year olds?

Was it always like this and I just didn’t notice? I thought we used to know that there were popular people, then there were ordinary people and that’s okay. We don’t seem to know that anymore. Average became failure at some point. You shouldn’t be average or “different”, apparently. But you must be special.

And so I’ve become a little jaded, maybe. World-weary. I’m tired of the things we value. I’m tired of wanting too little, even though I keep being told I should be striving for the extraordinary. I’m tired of being thought of as weird if I don’t crave things -a case of unrealised potential, if I don’t have them. I’m tired of having to want them, or pursue them, so that I earn a substantial amount of social capital with which to navigate this world -racing to become the epitome of a human commodity. I’m tired of having to pretend I want them so that I don’t seem too weird.

This feeling will pass, in the sense that I’ll remember how to ignore it so that I can keep my life together. I came back home weary of people and their desires. I’ve left work as soon as the clock struck 5. And I’ve climbed straight into bed. I’m taking a nap. Recess.

How has failing to want to be special set me up for success?

Well, whenever I am who I want to be, I am able to revel in it. I’ve learned how to enjoy a personal win -with or without any prestige that may be attached to it. Maybe I have learned to respect the advantages of a successfully average existence.


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