How To Get Over Massive Failure (Feeling Inadequate Or Defeated)
Today I want to talk about this feeling of defeat and inadequacy. I’ve experienced this a lot in my life. I always told myself that I was going to be a millionaire by the time I was 26. 26 was the number, I don’t know why I picked 26 as a number— I think I saw somebody on Twitter one day say that they made their first million by the age of 26 and I was like, “You know what? I’m going to do that.”
I spent a lot of my childhood working towards this. I started various companies and a lot of them failed. I started all kinds of tech start-ups, I build all kinds of applications and software programs and stuff. I had worked with all kinds of people. I was set on making this happen. And then my 26th birthday rolled around, and I wasn’t a millionaire.
That was hard for me because that was an identity crisis for me. I had told myself all of this time that I was going to be a millionaire that I was going to make shit happen by this date. I had read all these positivity and self-improvement books—Think and Grow Rich, and all these great classic books. I read them all to put it in my mind and make it so vivid that I can get there. Just keep focusing on it, wake up every day, and talk about it, write it down, every morning, every night— everything that I had tried, everything that I had done, and I still didn’t get there.
In fact, I was at the opposite end of the spectrum. Shit wasn’t going right, I was going broke, I was nearly homeless at one point, my housing situation fell through, I had a car that got repossessed, and it all just kept getting worse. It was bottom of the bottom for me for sure. I called it my “quarter life crisis” in my journal because I had tied my identity to this dream for so long. I was not only a failure but I was not even remotely close to making it come true.
I just felt like that all I had done, all I had led my life towards up to that point didn’t exist, and I couldn’t make it exist, and that I had somehow I failed. It’s really hard when you’re that low in the ground, when you’re that low in life when you lose all self confidence in yourself, and when you lose all ability to see yourself worth anything. You feel inadequate and defeated. That can be either a make or break point for you. It can be the point that defines your life permanently, or the point where you give up.
Unfortunately, I know a lot of people that have given. I know many people that has let that defeat them. I know for a lot of people that that was the end of the road. They stopped starting companies, or they quit trying to make their dream happen. They got a job elsewhere or they went to work for their family’s company. They didn’t believe in themselves enough to get anywhere.
There are three primary things that brought me out of that fucking shithole of low; that deep dark feeling of inadequacy and defeat:
- Get out of your head.
The fact that I had enough time to think about how inadequate I was, about how shitty I was, about how I failed at everything, about how no good and all this other stuff. The fact that I had all that time to think about it means I had spent way too much time thinking about it.
My mind spent too much time unoccupied. Now I don’t want you to confuse this with burying your problems in work because I’ve been on that side of the road too and I know people that do that, and that’s not healthy.
When you’re in those moments and you’re having trouble dealing with things, it does help to occupy your mind. It doesn’t mean that you should shut these feelings out completely, and just never deal with them. It just means that you don’t spend the entire day dwelling on them. That’s not productive. That’s how you go into one of those deep depressive states that can be really hard to come out of.
So occupying your time with things that you like to do is awesome. In fact, this whole scenario was what led me back to Game Dev Underground and game development in general. After a few years of hiatus, doing things that I didn’t want to do, building companies and working with people I didn’t really care to work with, they were all part of this long string of events.
That’s what led me back to gaming because it was always something that I loved to do. I always loved to make things and games were like these bundles of joy that I could create. I was led back there. I’m with game development as a sort of therapy because it got me out of my head. I started thinking in terms of game worlds, and mechanics, and programming, rather than, Holy shit! I’m such a piece of shit!
- Finding something that you could measure and grow it.
In the game of life, there’s no progression system. One of the things I love about RPGs and one of the reasons Destiny is one of my favorite games is because I love shooters and there’s a sense of progression. There’s a leveling system. You level up as you shoot the bad guys, and you kill shit. Life doesn’t have that. When you go on one of these journeys, and you take a nosedive, you’re no longer at level 40. You’re no longer the dude that leveled all the way up.
It’s hard to remember that you are still someone of value and that you are still at the top. You have learned a ton of things. Even though you’ve taken a journey that is not the most pleasing to you, you still learn something just like you learn things along the way about anything else in life. That’s part of your leveling.
Finding something specific that I could measure and grow works really well. And honestly, one of the things I did personally was I wanted to help people, so I turned back to Game Dev Underground. Watching the traffic stats, reading the comments, the engagement, watching the different ways that people interact, the sign up to my mailing list, watching these specific numbers grow because of the things that I did, really helped me personally. Focusing on growing something and actually seeing it move forward and leveling up, one brick at a time, is really satisfying.
It really helps a lot when you’re in those down states to focus on numbers that you can change, that you can modify. It could be players that you’ve gotten in your games, it could be download numbers, it can be milestones that you’re hitting goals or completing. Just find a number that you can track and grow over time.
I’m not saying that you should tie your self-esteem to “likes” on Facebook because that’s an entirely different issue. A lot of the younger people in our world today are really affected by those numbers. On Instagram and Facebook and stuff, and that’s not healthy at all. I’m talking about finding a number that you can grow and track and focus on. Focus on growing it in order to get something out of it.
- Don’t compare yourself to others. Compare yourself to yourself.
You might say, “This guy has that, this guy did this. I want to do that but better.” For me, part of the reason why I want to be that person is so that I would have a goal. I always compared myself to other people.
I want to be where that guy is. I want what that guy has. I found that while that might be motivating short-term to work and get shit done, it can be damaging to your self-esteem as a person because you’re constantly comparing yourself to someone else. The only person you should be comparing yourself to is yourself. Yourself yesterday, or yourself last week or yourself last month. This kind of ties into finding a number that you can track, or finding something you can progress or level up. If you compare yourself to yourself, then there’s only one real way to go; and that’s UP. That’s progress.
That works like a leveling system in a game does. It helps with that sense of progression. When you’re focusing on that and improving at some specific thing, whether it’s your art skills, or finishing milestones, or developing prototypes, or whatever you’re doing.
Compare yourself to how you were yesterday, or last week, in for example, trying to lose weight, trying to gain muscle, becoming better at talking to people, trying to write a book, whatever you’re trying to do. It’s not just game development that you can compare yourself to yourself.
Don’t compare yourself to other people because that’s a great way to shit on your self-esteem especially when you’re already in under this pressure of inadequacy and defeat. Your focus should be to get out of that, not to wallow in it. Comparing yourself to other people when you’re in that mindset can just break everything even more. It can damage everything. It can make the whole roof cave in. At least it did for me.
Those three things really got me out of that rut. It got me focused on the things that I wanted to do, focus on my own personal growth, and my own movement upwards doing the things that I wanted to do.
Ultimately, that resulted in my making my YouTube videos. Without that dip, without that shitty situation happening in my life, would I ever be here? Who knows? I’m not going to say they happen for a reason because I don’t really think that’s the case. But I DO think you can learn something from everything that happens to you. You can grow and progress from the things, even the shitty things that happen to you. They don’t always have a reason, they’re not always good things, but you can learn from them and grow. If your mindset is just to keep going and build upon your castle of knowledge and experience, I think you’re going to go places.
Don’t be the guy that quits at the bottom. That doesn’t get you anywhere. If you do quit, you wasted all that time. The only real way to fail is to quit, to stop trying. And I’m not a quitter. I can’t be. It’s just not in my DNA. Even after all the shit I’ve been through. The harder the shit, the harder I tried. The harder I also failed. It almost made me want to stop trying the hard things but I had to keep going even when I felt defeated, even when I felt useless or worthless or inadequate.
I just want to share that with you today and I hope you found it useful. If you have ever experienced something like that, please share it below, I would love to hear your story. If this helped you, let me know as well. I love to hear from you guys.