optimism and positivity all the way.

Dear Stranger,

They told you that there could be no success without failure. That failure is, in fact, crucial to success. They said it is a necessary evil, the groundwork for eventually achieving your goals. That nothing worth anything comes easy. They said that your response to failure would be the true measure of your character. They have a lot to say, but they are not in your head. They do not live in the cesspool of negativity that is your mind. They don’t fight the constant sense of inadequacy, or the fear that every endeavor will result in yet another failure. They do not struggle to accept their imperfections, waking up in the morning with the feeling that they are an impostor. That what they have to contribute to the world is a lie, or worse, that they are a complete fraud. They said you should seek counsel in order to be guided out of your failure. What do they know; they have put you on a pedestal. They already see you as a success. They believe you have picked yourself up and emerged unscathed on the other side.

That failure, for you, is a minor setback. Part of the process. The truth is more painful. You spend your time over-analyzing every flaw you believe you possess. You relive every defeat, dwell on your weaknesses and punish yourself. Your inner critic pulls you deeper and deeper into self-loathing until you go to bed, exhausted and defeated. You tell yourself that tomorrow will be a better day. That tomorrow you will succeed. But sleep does not offer you any respite either. You stare at the ceiling, and the scar in your mind plays back to you fractured pictures of everything that could have been, had you been adequate. The hole in your heart widens, and slowly, you begin to believe that you are utterly worthless. You try desperately to stop the loop that plays in your mind. Sleep does not come. You start the next day—exhausted, feeling worthless, and slipping into depression. You feel as if there is no place for you.

Your family, your friends and your job will be better without you. There have been days when you feel you may fit in. That this day may be a successful one. You begin the day comparing yourself to others. I know that you have tried your best to remain positive, to stop yourself from spiraling into self-loathing. But you know, deep down, that one mistake, one comparison, or the thought of a person who has done better than you, has the ability to catapult you into depression. A sense of inadequacy overtakes you, building in your mind. You know that your mind is playing games, tricking you into believing something that is not true. But I also know that your truth is different from what they see.

I can see you struggling. Pushing down the anxiety that threatens to make you abandon your next project, sending you home from work to avoid having to take on any more responsibility. Your heart pounds in your chest. Fear takes control. I know that you do not want to be in the limelight. You do not want to be assigned anything outside of the scope of what you are confident you can do. And for you, confidence does not come easily. It is a daily struggle to convince yourself that you are worthy of where you are in your life. You don’t believe that the people in your life have need of someone like you. You have convinced yourself that you are worthless. Nothing more than a sum of all your failures. The truth is, you are worth it. You are more than your failures. You are certainly better than your opinion of yourself.

Write a list of your accomplishments, no matter what their size. When you feel your mind begin to fixate on your failures, pull out your list. Read it; reassure yourself. Prove to yourself that failure is only a part of who you are and what you have done. Instead of seeing your job and education as a daily torment, place yourself on the pedestal that others have put up for you. Realize that you are an integral part of your company’s operation. Allow yourself to reminisce about your past achievements. They may be in the past, but that does not mean they are no longer relevant. Knowing you were able to accomplish them will help you realize that you are still a capable person. I know it is difficult to not compare yourself to others in a competitive world. I get it. But you have to stop. You are completely unique, and because of that, you have something that other people cannot offer. Chances are, the very person you are comparing yourself to is struggling with a sense of failure because they are measuring themselves against you. I know that, once your feelings of inadequacy start playing on a loop, it is difficult to pull yourself out of it.

For every negative thought you have about yourself, think of one positive. It’s scary, I know. But the pattern works both ways. Trust me. The more you think of yourself with positivity, the easier it will be to see the positive parts of yourself. Reach out. Let the people who love you, help you. Talk to them and ask them if they feel the same way about you. Chances are, they will tell you that you are completely off-track. While reaching out, make sure to speak to those who know you well. Those who have been part of your history will be able to remind you about achievements you didn’t even realize were significant.

Never stop setting goals for yourself. Break them down into small, easily achievable steps. Praise yourself. Never stop praising yourself. You are unique; you are wonderfully created to be more than what you think you are. Failure becomes permanent only when you do nothing to bring yourself back in line with success. Believe in yourself in the same way that others believe in you. It won’t happen overnight. Begin believing in yourself today, and you will work towards finding your own version of success. ( Ashish Bagrecha)

From a fellow failure.