The Background: After I graduated from high school, where I fared well and generally found success, I spent some time adrift, with no specific direction, goals, or motivation, and a lot of personal confusion. However, despite being uncertain about the direction I wanted my life to go, I was confident that I would end up being successful, having always accomplished whatever I had set my mind to in the past. After watching my friends and classmates succeed in college for a year or two, I decided to go back to school and give it a serious try, despite my lack of enthusiasm or a general idea of what I was passionate about. In hindsight, I too optimistic and should have waited until I more clearly understood myself, as I crashed through school spectacularly on my first go around in ways that devastated my confidence, personal life, and health.
Academically, it started off fine and continued that way for a few months as I quickly adjusted to my new surroundings and the freedoms that came with them. However, as time went on, I quickly fell into a personal rut that was hard to break out of, which was driven by having absolutely no passion for the work I was doing on a daily basis and therefore no drive to do it, and a general, but very strong, feeling that the world was a hostile place where I would never find success or something that I loved to do. This attitude crept into my behavior, and over this period I alienated some of my closest friends, adopted some very unhealthy coping strategies, and ultimately, was forced to withdrawal from college, which, at the time, felt like a humiliating defeat and the deepest bottom in my life.
The Catalyst: That moment is one that I can still remember perfectly clearly, and while today I am grateful that I went through it, was the worst that I had experienced up until that time that was self-inflicted. The shame, anger, regret, crippling anxiety and confusion that accompanied this failure were so powerful, and persisted for so long, that they are, even years later, easy to reach and re-experience. After I l left school, I was lucky enough to have support that let me take some time away from everything and everyone to figure out my next steps. I did some traveling, met some fantastic people, expanded my personal horizons, and began to plot my next steps when I started to feel a little distance from my previous circumstances.
The Turnaround: Amazingly, after a few months out of school, two events happened almost simultaneously that have since shaped the current course of my life, although looking back I believe that they fed into each other. First, I learned to begin to realize that I would survive this detour in life, and that my failure at school would not be the end of me if I decided that it would not be. This was a huge realization for me, and one that allowed me to both accept failure as a part of life, as well as learn how to use the negative emotions associated with it to push myself to succeed well past my previous performance and expectations. My failure in the end sparked an incredibly hot and burning desire in me to succeed no matter what in the future, which, combined with the second event, a passion for investing and business I discovered around the same time, has led to wild success and high achievement today in the areas in which I spend my time.
While this event, in the grand scheme of things, will most likely turn out to be a little detour in the path of my life, it has had profound implications on it. For one, I have learned to accept failure as a normal part of life, with the caveat that my actions since then have been driven by a desire to never experience it so viscerally again. A second, and far more important lesson, has been that I can recover from failure in incredibly exciting and positive ways that, given enough time and effort, are so far beyond my own expectations that they make failed efforts worth it.