Unemployed? Failed Your Exam? Don’t Feel Down. You Are Not A Failure.

Unemployed? Got poor marks? Don’t feel down. It doesn’t mean you are a failure.

Warning: This is a rant/opinion piece.

I was recently chatting with some of my close friends about work, “financial independence”, “financial freedom”.

It provoked some deep thoughts in me. Those of an Asian heritage (with traditional upbringings) will probably be able to relate fairly well.

Something I’ve always said and something I still feel is true is that for the majority of people, we work because we need to and not because we want to.

To think about what you would do out of desire, think about what you do in your leisure time. For most people, this would be their weekend.

You know what that means? Just because you don’t “work” (in a traditional sense), doesn’t at all mean you’re a “failure” or that you’re lazy. You could be in the “gig economy” (freelancing) – and freelancing is a big thing these days. If you have found an alternative way to earn money that is non-traditional, I am extremely supportive of that and envious of you. If it requires you to put in very little work, even better.

If your hobby happens to be something that earns you money, well guess what? You’re a bloody winner. And this can be anything.. think of skydiving, skiing, playing soccer, singing, acting.

A concerning trend, in my opinion, is that too many people, especially those of an Asian background, get sucked in by social pressures to succeed. The problem is not the desire to succeed. The problem is their perception of success. What annoys me even more is that they often apply their beliefs to other people, regardless of race/culture. So.. what is their perception of success?

  • Attain high marks in school
  • Earn lots of money (i.e. be a doctor, lawyer or a dentist) – the belief is that achieveing the above will improve the chances of this substantially
  • Learn to play the piano/violin
  • Do not become an actor/singer (so.. what was the rationale behind us learning piano/violin?)
  • Give off the impression that you are wealthy (even if you are not)

In fact, it would probably be wrong of me to call it a trend. A trend suggests it is a somewhat short-term attitude. It probably isn’t. I’m fairly young and it’s been a thing for my whole life, but I’m fairly confident it’s been a “thing” for at least 3 decades. Nothing appears to suggest it is changing any time soon either.

So.. the problem with these measures of success is that anyone who fails to fulfil these expectations is often perceived to be a failure. Narrow minded thinking much?

To me, this perception of failure is no different to someone who looks down on others because they feel superior. Common examples:

  • Those who are Engish educated and think they are superior for being English educated (or for speaking a better level of English)
  • A professional singer perceiving others who suck at singing as failures. Have you never thought that this person who sucks at singing might be a professional basketballer? And you, the professional singer, probably suck at basketball.
  • A rich, wealthy individual looking down on those who are poorer
    • Being born into a rich family doesn’t make you “special”
    • If it was down to your hard work, good on you, but what does your arrogance achieve besides making you look like an absolute douche?
  • A person who is big on fashion/brands looking down on those who do not know how to dress and/or wear Kmart/Target clothes

People are good at different things and that’s how it should be. That’s life. What would society be like if everyone was a doctor, lawyer or dentist? Not only would this make no societal sense, but it would also mean everyone is both a failure and a success because everyone is the same. Perception of success and/or failure is ultimately a relative measure. It’s similar to words like “tall”, “short”, “rich”, “poor”. You’re not rich if everyone else around you is rich. Nor are you poor if everyone around you is also poor.

I’m not here to say that if you suck at something you should just always accept that you suck. If anything, I’m saying to those ones that suck (and know they suck) to not be put off by it if it’s actually something they genuinely enjoy (and want to be good at). You like football, but you’re not very good? So what? Enjoy yourself. Don’t let others knock you down. Play for the love of the game.


Don’t look down on others because of their failures. Here’s a cliche that I firmly believe in – you learn from failures in life. Not failing is unrealitsic, and looking down on those “failing” is disgusting behaviour. You are just a human, just like everyone else. I hope you feel just as great next time someone puts you down for a mistake you made.

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