I am a person who has placed my self-worth on what I accomplish. When I am not experiencing an episode of depression, I usually am going through a period of feeling successful. This may be determined by a number of things, such has having a good time with friends, doing well at work, etc. When I am experiencing failure, I tend to drown myself to the ground and think of myself as worthless. It took years of self-improvement and positive reinforcement to recognize, that my self-worth should not be based on external factors and accomplishments, but to see myself as a person who will learn to seek progress and not perfection.
I believe that the biggest reason why I place my value on accomplishments and failures is because at a young age I was taught to believe that success is determined not by what you become but, by how much you are able to make. I have been told that value is not something that is based on quality, but rather the quantity of output. I’ve had peer groups who care more about how much money people make, or how many things people have. So I have spent much of my life comparing my ability to succeed to the success of others instead of focusing on my own journey.
The education system tells me that I have to attain a high education and a high GPA to get a job. They don’t value anything about how I feel or what I want to do to feel valued in this world. I come from a family that has had experienced hardships and because I was considered one of the more intelligent members many of my family members did their best to bully me and tease me because they knew I would be considered successful just as my father did.
As I grew up, I realized that the way that I communicated was never based on how people feel, but more about what you can do for them. When I lived in New York, no one asked how you were doing when you first met them, instead people asked you “what do you do for a living.” I realized that my value is only measured by what I can do for a person, instead of helping people to change or get better. I became sensitive to the transactional nature of American society and my depression did not do very much to help me get better. I tend to let external factors affect me and that is what causes me to feel to succeed. I don’t define success by my own thoughts, but instead by the thoughts of others. As a result, failure becomes a troubling problem.
I have avoided failure like a disease. From the classroom to the workplace, I never let myself fail. My ego was too high for me to let myself fail or give up on anything. The only thing I ever gave up on in school was my engineering degree and outdoor sports (soccer and football in high school). I gave up football and soccer because of the doctor’s orders with my allergies and asthma. My switch from engineering to psychology came out of interest. Did this mean I was void of failure? No, it just means I was afraid to fail.
I didn’t realize that failure is something that we all do, it’s a learning tool to help us become better people. I have lost friends, pushed people away, been rejected by girls and that failure kept me from living. Failure and rejection kept me from feeling free and comfortable with myself. Instead I started to become demotivated to do anything and I used alcohol whenever I failed. I drank when I didn’t take a test, I drank when I experienced failure. I didn’t want to acknowledge that failure happened, so I did my best to drink it away instead of learning from it.
Much like success, I cannot place my value on my failures. Failing helps me have more experience, and it helps me learn to become stronger. When failures result in the harm of another person or may have consequences that effect other people, I cannot afford to place self-pity on myself. That is not only good for my depression, it will only weaken my character.
Instead I must atone for the actions of my failures and do my best to rectify my actions. When my failures are based on something that repeats in my life, then I need to take accountability to change my own actions to keep myself from making the same mistakes again and again. Failure is not for the sake of creating self-blame or hatred on ourselves, but instead it happens so that we can learn to improve ourselves regardless of the nature of the failure.
I believe that I am not my failures or my successes, but I am a summation of experiences in my own journey in my own life. Experiences are not directly based on failures or successes, there is much more involved (emotions, behaviors, discoveries, etc.). It is no secret that I live in a country that places our value of each other on what we can do for each other instead of how we can make each other feel, which makes it difficult for an emotionally fragile person to believe that I am capable of functioning in this world.
It is important for me to remind myself that my life and experience should not be placed on what I do, but instead it should be placed on how I feel. I need to operate my life based on passion and not profit, and base my experiences on progress not perfection. With that principle, I am able to avoid limiting my life based on my failures and successes.