Everyone feels like this sometimes. But this doesn’t make it true. First off, what is failing anyway? Not reaching a set standard. And who set this standard? If it’s someone else, you need to consider if it’s a standard for yourself that you even agree with. If it’s you, then be nice to yourself. I’m talking here about calling yourself a absolute failure, not just feeling disappointed about failing to pass a test or get a job.

And most of the time in life you can’t actually fail until you stop trying. If you’re here, you haven’t given up yet. You’re not finished. You can either keep pushing or you can reevaluate your life and come up with a better definition of success that works for you. We’ve talked before about pushing yourself and wanting to be as good as possible. That’s important but not as important as being secure in yourself and allowing yourself to enjoy the good things you have. You can’t do that while you’re holding up an unhelpful standard for success. It will just make you dissatisfied with everything you have.

There will always be people deciding on whether or not you have had a successful life. But everyone judges by their own standards, based on their own values. They’ll never all match with what is right for you. Here’s an obvious example. Imagine your brother is a high-powered lawyer in the city who defines success by how influential he can be among the people he mixes with, and what high society gatherings he is invited to. And you’re a primary school teacher who loves to travel and meet people from different cultures. If either of you measure the other’s life, you might easily label them a failure. But that makes no sense. It would be like saying the Mona Lisa was a complete failure as a piece of classical music. Or that the Grand Canyon was a useless fashion model. Or that Albert Einstein was a terrible work of pre-Raphaelite sculpture.

You define the terms of the success or failure of your life. I’d advise a combination of dreaming big but giving yourself grace to not be perfect. You will fail at times, but that’s normal. That doesn’t make you a failure.