I may be biased because I have depression, but there are some days that I feel like a complete failure. Someone who is failing at life and not achieving their true potential. I know what potential I have, the problem is I don’t know what to do with all of it. It’s a weird feeling to describe. I know that I am a highly educated person who can do anything, but I still feel like something is missing in my life.
When I was growing up, the last thing on my mind was money. I didn’t start working until I was 18 because I was always focusing on school work. Probably too much now that I look back. In my senior year I got a job at a grocery store. I ended up working there for three or four years. It was a great job. I made a lot of friends there and I generally enjoyed going to work. I only got paid around nine dollars an hour, but it didn’t matter to me. I was still living with my parents and they were taking care of most of my major expenses.
Once I got my teaching job, I felt like I had finally made it. I spent five years in college getting my degree. I spent a semester student teaching (I think student teachers should be paid, but let’s focus) getting ready to teach for the rest of my life.
I did enjoy teaching. I loved working with the kids. They always told me funny stories and made me happy. The best feeling in the world was seeing those kids learn something new, like reading a book. I mean, that’s pretty amazing that I taught that kid to read. It was such a rewarding profession. I also got paid really well for a 24-year-old. Three thousand dollars a month? Hello!
However, teaching wasn’t what it was like when I student taught. When I student taught, I just taught. I didn’t have to do all of the paperwork. I didn’t have to attend all of the meeting or summer training classes. Even though I was teaching students, I wasn’t the ultimate one responsible for the students. My co-operating teacher was. So I didn’t feel the pressure of making sure that all of the kids passed every assessment. I tried my best to make sure that they did, but I wasn’t the one directly accountable.
They don’t teach you this kind of stuff in teaching school. Soon, I realized that I couldn’t do this anymore. Teaching wasn’t what I thought it was going to be.
Depression kicked in, and soon I was in the hospital. I was taking new medications each week. My source of income was gone. I had become a failure.
I will be the first to say that I am my own worst critic. I remember in fifth grade that I never wanted to write in this thing called “the book”. The book was basically a record keeping system where students had to write their names in if they got in trouble or didn’t do their homework. I put so much damn pressure on myself to be perfect all of the time.
This attitude stayed with me throughout high school. I was so shy and quiet because I didn’t want to say anything stupid. I wanted to be perfect all of the time. If I wasn’t perfect, then I was failing myself. I was failing my parents.
Looking back, it’s incredible to see that. I look at former classmates who were mediocre students at best, and now they are contributing to society and raising families. The smart one here is taking pills for depression, anxiety, and mood swings. Plus, I don’t even have a job.
Somewhere along the way, money became my source of happiness and self-worth. I didn’t care about money until I actually was making a lot of it. Now that I’m not working, I think about money every day. I think about how I could make money. Am I going to have enough money? How can I cut back on my expenses? How can I save? Then I have a panic attack and have to take a Klonopin. It’s an endless cycle that really brings me down if I don’t change my thoughts.
I feel like a failure because I am not producing money. Which is ridiculous because even if I had money, I would still have depression. If I was bringing in a thousand or so dollars a month, would that cure my depression? Would being a millionaire cure my depression? I don’t think so. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but money isn’t going to make me happier. Sure, it would help pay for bills and medication. But money is not a treatment for depression. It is something that I have to continue to remind myself so I don’t stay up all night stressing out about it.
So no, I am not a failure. I think the problem is that I have all of this knowledge and experience, I am just lost. I don’t know what to do with my life. I’ll be turning 26 soon, and I don’t have a clue what I want to do. I am taking personal training classes, which are really interesting, so I hope that is the eventual goal down the road. Hopefully that works out for me.
People put way too much pressure on themselves. It could be a societal issue. We praise people who put in 50-60 hour work weeks. But why? They are spending more time at work than with their own families. We are such a work loving country that we all think that money is our salvation. Money will ultimately bring us happiness. But that’s not the case. Money doesn’t solve ALL of our problems. If they did, then we wouldn’t have all of the issues that we do in our country.
Maybe we just have to remember this: In order to succeed, you must fail. The sense of failure is a stepping stone. We’re may feel like we are at rock bottom, so there’s only one way we can go. That’s up.