Feelings of Failure

I’m currently a university student. I started late, in my early twenties, due to having children early and never finishing high school. I did a diploma in health sciences in my first year, with the aim of going into a midwifery degree, but my university cancelled the degree programme that year. I had to reassess, and start over.

I then started on a degree in English, with the aim of going to teachers’ college. I rapidly learned that I hated university English, but that I was utterly in love with Classical Studies. Well, classical studies is still a high school subject. So I dove into that with a passion, and the plan remained unchanged.

Things happened. Stresses built. Mental illness intervened. And now I find myself at age twenty-six with another three semesters of part-time university work in order to complete my undergraduate degree. It’s taken me longer than most, but I’ll get there. I’m bright enough and hardworking enough to complete an honours year, and I’d really like to do that.

After that though, it gets a bit fuzzy. I’m really not sure if I can go into teachers’ college unless I’ve been stable for several years, and even then it’s questionable. It’s a job that doesn’t take kindly to needing time off because your sanity is crumbling, and it’s a very high-stress environment. I don’t know if I can pull it off.

I feel like all this, all the work that I’ve done, has taken a large portion of my third decade. What will I have to show for that? What job prospects will I have? I may be doing very well in my studies, but I feel like in terms of the real world, I’m doing nothing useful.

I should feel proud of what I’m achieving. Instead I feel like I’m failing at the real business of life. I don’t even know what that business is, what I should be achieving instead, but I still feel a pervasive sense of failure.


3 thoughts on “Feelings of Failure

  1. Leslie's Illusions

    This is just a thought, feel free to discard it if it doesn’t work for you. Reading your post reminded me of myself. Once I realized that I was feeling like a failure because I was comparing myself to other people who had more money…and yet making money was never my goal. I knew the profession I chose didn’t make a lot of money, but I wanted to help people.

    You are working toward your goal, and in spite of set backs you are tenaciously moving forward. I think that is definitely success! Your success is even more meaningful because you have had obstacles to overcome.

    I created a mantra for myself, “Don’t judge your success by other people’s values.”

    Keep up the great work with school!

    1. Wombat Post author

      Thank you for your thoughts. I think that it’s not so much that I’m comparing myself to others as that I feel really lost in terms of direction. If I knew what my goal was past graduation, then I could feel like I was working towards something that had meaning. But without an idea of where I’m going, I feel pretty lost, and that brings with it the feelings of failure.


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