By whose standards do people fail in life? By society’s standards? By group or class standards? By individual standards? We can take a look at three kinds of people with three different ways of looking at failure in life.
To some people who desire all the finer things in life, failure in life can mean having acquired fewer material goods, a luxury home in a prestigious neighborhood, luxury cars, all the latest high tech gadgetry, jewelry and furs, world travel, private schools for their children, the best colleges afterward, and a number of other forms of material wealth. Most of these things are status symbols, and not the real measure of success except in terms of luxury. This group of people considers themselves failures if friends and family have these luxuries and they do not. They may actually be quite comfortable and have no valid reasons to consider themselves failures.
To other people, to “fail” in life may mean experiencing a lack of family closeness, having very few or no friends, having inadequate funds to see them through to the end of life, or having no realistic plan for the future. They desire adequate shelter, decent clothing, reliable transportation, and a healthy diet. These are basics that are important in life. Without them, some individuals may be more accurate in thinking they have failed somehow or to some degree. If someone has fallen into deep debt with nowhere to turn, it may be grounds for feelings of failure. These people judge failure in a different way. Their lives haven’t been about acquiring as much material wealth as possible, but they have wanted to be comfortable, live healthfully, get adequate education and employment, be able to pay their bills, and live their lives as ethically as possible. These people may fear failure at some point, but will actually be okay in the long run if they can continue to have “enough” to meet their needs and live a life of contentment, perhaps more comfortably than they realize.
Then there are the people who have nothing at all. They may have better reasons to feel they have actually failed in life. They may have lost family, friends, and their freedom through a morally corrupt lifestyle. It is easy to see why these people have a feeling of failure. They have made all the wrong choices. Their decision-making skills have been faulty. At every turn, they have taken the wrong path and made matters worse for themselves.
Why does this happen? This is what we could see as closer to the concept of failure in life. It has nothing to do with the first two groups of people, who have not actually failed in life except in their own estimation. The group who has not been productive at all may have had a number of factors that led to their eventual failure. There may have been early childhood neglect or abuse that left lasting scars and led to a severe lack of self-esteem and self-confidence. There may be mental disorders that create a feeling that they are unable to achieve and they give up trying at some point. They may have made such bad decisions that they’ve ended up incarcerated, paying for their mistakes for years. Drugs, including alcohol abuse, combined with mental illness is prevalent in the prison population. Statistically, many of the imprisoned are there because of drug and alcohol abuse and also suffer some form of mental illness.
And some of those who could be called “failures” by society’s standards may have been apathetic. They may have come from a history of welfare recipients who used government assistance programs as a way of life. They may have been apathetic about other people’s opinions of their lifestyle, content to get by or even live fairly well, being taken care of by taxpayer dollars. The reason they feel they’ve failed in life is because they have simply not cared enough to make changes in the way they live, and they have not worked or earned what they have.
There are many reasons not mentioned here why people fail in life, or believe they have. However, life never stops presenting opportunities. Each new day could open a door to some small measure of success in some area. That one step forward may be what moves the down-trodden to a higher degree of success and finally allows them to reach an acceptable way of life – one that lifts them up from a dismal feeling of failure in life to a feeling of achievement.