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I'm a Failure!

I'm a Failure!

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Question:

My career seems to be at a dead end. For years I've been training as an actor and struggling to get my first break, but every time I come close to a significant role something goes wrong and I miss out. I have tried every avenue I can think of, including changing agents, but it hasn't gotten me anywhere. I am professional, hard-working, dedicated and I believe I have talent (this has been confirmed to me by others too). But I am starting to think I simply wasn't meant to be an actor. Should I just come to terms with being a failure?

Answer:

My friend, there is only one thing you need to come to terms with. You are not an actor. You may be good at acting, but that is not who you are--it's what you do. Stop identifying yourself by your career. You need to discover an identity that is beyond your work. That way, success and failure in your career will not spell success or failure in your life.

In our world of inverted values, a man is called successful because he has made a lot of money. He may have abandoned his third wife, be estranged from his children, have no friends and his dog ran away from him. But he's done well at his "career," and people say, "I wish I had his luck."

We achieve true success when we succeed in our relationships. If you are a caring friend in times of need, if you treat your parents well, if you are a supportive and understanding spouse, a devoted and caring parent, then you are a success. Those who contribute to the community, not just money but time and effort, those who have developed happy relationships with G‑d and man, they are real success stories.

As long as we identify ourselves with our profession - I am an actor, a sales person, an IT technician - then we are pinning our success as a person on our career success. But it's not true. We are not defined by our job. What we do to make a living is different to what we do to make a life. We work to make a living. But to make a life we must love, connect, serve a purpose and find meaning.

This is the gift of Shabbat. One day a week we step out of our workday roles and return to our true self. We are not staff members of a company of but rather members of a community; we are not employers or employees but rather brothers and sisters, children, parents and friends. We are not working for a boss to do our job, but rather working for The Boss to fulfill our mission.

You may be great at doing your job. Or maybe not. But it's more important to be good at being human. When it comes to being human, also a failed businessman can be the greatest success story, and a struggling actor can be a star.

Aron Moss is rabbi of the Nefesh Community in Sydney, Australia, and is a frequent contributor to Chabad.org.
Artwork by David Brook. David lives in Sydney, Australia, and has been selling his art since he was in high school. He is currently painting and doing web illustrations. To view or purchase David’s art, please visit davidasherbrook.com.
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Lisa Providence, RI August 26, 2013

I Thought of Myself as a Failure, Too! Your situation isn't unusual, because I went through the same thing!

I never held a job for longer than 8 years, and I wished that any job that agreed with me would be PERMANENT! I chose data entry and even "cleaned up" offices.

As for you, acting is NOT for everyone. I, myself, acted in plays as a child, but refused to deal with the stresses of show business. Very often, people have gifts they may not be aware of or may not see them as "special." Did you reevaluate yourself and your skills to see what you're best at? You may need therapy to help you figure it out. Good luck! Reply

Windrider via jewishtaos.org July 23, 2012

Failure I too am a failure, but I keep trying and I think that is a key attribute, don't quit trying. Reply

Failure Boring, wa November 16, 2011

I am a failure also I am a failure. I can t do anything, I have no friends, cant find a job. I always did the right thing in life, but i am still a failure. I dnot know how to live this life. The only thing that helps me is knowing that God loves and cares about me. Reply

Roger Minster, UK July 17, 2011

to 'almost 50' Thank you for picking up on my post. Yours is a real terrible journey, so thanks again for sharing. A new manager has started and the results of my being in post 5 months have been good although I made several mistakes under pressure. someone said "you did it" and others have recognized my efforts. As you have responded to me I pray for you that this you are going through will be an achievement of character and personal growth for you and as in the scriptures people like Joseph, ill treated come out on top top in the end! Reply

dd arrow london, England July 7, 2011

almost fifty i just wanted to say hi, dont have any answers to contribute, but know that feeling - lost my career, home, family, everything, tried all the self help courses, its a feeling and attitude a desire let god show u the way, but the more u loose the less u feel, been trying like always to pick up again and motivate myself, but come to the sorry state of just cant be bothered anymore given up really - had a business lost it, made people lots of money did not make a penny, moved to europe lost my job, set up a company partner stole the moneys, lost my home, best mate, ended up on the streets, just cant shake it anymore - wish i could offer you some advice only if it help i know what ur going through ur not alone. Reply

roger kent, england May 20, 2011

im a failure I am a Christian and I love you Jews because I feel you are the fathers that laid the foundations for the faith I enjoy so much! I have been going through a most terrible time in my job as the manager left and I have been left totally out of my depth covering this role and made many mistakes. I typed in 'i am a failure' & all yr posts came up. I was really helped by the post saying that u r measured by who u r not wot u do and I shall indeed read ps 121 etc. Thank u. Reply

Anonymous Garden City, 12 January 8, 2011

To David When the children of Israel were in the wilderness and they became hungry, Who provided manna? Was it not G-d? They did nothing to earn it. Yet they were fed. So many ills are cured when we stop trying to run the show and let G-d bless us. I have struggled with brain disorders all my life but was unwilling to take medications out of fear of addiction.

It wasnt until I placed my life in the hands of the one who knows all that I began to see my foolishness. I am now more able than ever to contribute to society, and my needs are cared for though not how I would like it.

I am happy with my life and feel I am a success. Now the shocker for you. I do not and cannot hod a job because of my disability.

Thats right. I live on the generosity of a loving G-d and his people. Yet I am able to also be generous and have been known for feeding those worse off than me.

I feel pity for you my friend because you have missed the point of life. It is to show love to one another as G-d loves us. Reply

Anonymous ma., mass via nsjewish.com November 7, 2010

to Failure in Summerville, sc 57 years old is still young enough to achieve your dreams. There is a chance that a good quality you have did not sit well with your family and did not rise up at your work. Everyone has a deep beauty and everyone needs to see yours shine. Much struggle is a preparation and a waiting time. a waiting time to wait upon the Lord for your time to rise up. You have accumulated the ability to change others with your struggle to turn your life around. All of this was to make you stronger. Be strong and many blessings to you. Reply

Anonymous Summerville, sc November 6, 2010

Failure I feel as though I'm a failure too. I'm now 57 and feel I'l never be able to make up my life or achieve any of my dreams. I believe I've failed my parents, family, friends, wife, son, and myself. I've worked many jobs but have achieved little. Now, I think I'm just waiting to die. This article has given me some relief and I intend to pursue a more spiritual life, but I'm doubtful and fearful and weak. Sadness and depression have take me and I'm unsure I can escape. Reply

David R Dallas, Texas June 9, 2010

success Real success is being a good person while making a great career. Reply

Anonymous MArblehead via nsjewish.com March 7, 2010

I am thankful, there is a good person... Reply

David Windsor, Ont March 1, 2010

I have a question for Aron. It's all good and well to not be identified with your job or career. The problem is that the real world doesn't pay you to be a good human being. The real world pays you to be a good professional or employee. Without that money you would die from lack of food, clothing, or shelter. According to most accounts, I'm a pretty good person. In the real world, that has gotten me nowhere. I'm deep in struggle. The promise of the world to come doesn;t put food on the table. Reply

smile June 29, 2009

it is never too late to start on making a change
:)
you will not know how far how high you can soar till you stretch your wings. Reply

Esther Lake Oswego, Oregon via chabadoregon.com April 29, 2009

To Abishek Don't waste any more precious time in feeling remorse for the past. Go forward... start now!

Think what you want to do with the rest of your life. Think about what makes you happy, and why. Spend some time making other people happy, it will make you feel so much better!

Life is a gift. Even if you feel you have wasted part of it, don't waste the rest of it! Go to a doctor or counselor or Rabbi if you need help. But start now! God loves you; you can learn to love yourself too! Reply

Anonymous April 29, 2009

to Abhishac All you write would be true IF there is not the world to come. If not for The World To Come, it would be impossible to rationally hold that the LORD is both omnipotent and just! Perhaps you are right in presuming that nothing, nothing at all, could tip the balance between pain and happinesss in one's life. Imagine the horror of the shoah, imagine an elderly man say 95 years old who witnessed the slaughter of his sons, their sons and their sons! And he survived. Can anything occur in the life of this 95 yo man to return pain/happiness to balance, let alone tilt to happiness? NOTHING CAN! EXCEPT faith that God will keep faith with His people, Israel! And faith that God IS omnipotent, just and merciful..alll!
From, "My brother called me a failure". Reply

abhishek April 29, 2009

I am afailure i have been feeling very low ever since i did my graduation. i never really did good in academics ( which i think , i could have done) and and don't really enjoy my life any more. I have a job , to support me but i feel i have lost the race of my life. I could have done much better, but sad part is , i never really thought about it when I needed to do things to shape my carreer and life. I read somewhere , that the 3 most hurting words in life are : "could have, should have , might have" . I have messed up my life beyond repair,
Even if I do something great today, i know it is never going to compensate for the most precious time that I lost , becuase of my own carelessness. I really don't know if my life has got any meaning anymore. I am just surviving in this world, only for the sake of it.
No real joy in living. I have realised time is all powerful and those who don't value it have to repent it one day. Reply

Anonymous April 1, 2009

Called "Failure" by my brother. I was a physician, and became addicted to drugs. Too long a story to put in the remaining 907 characters that are left, because I tried!
End result: Having been in recovery with unencumbered license for several years, I was unable to find a job and no longer had the credit to re-open my solo practice. After a series of positive interviews and even contract offers all fell through, for one reason or the other. Then length of time since working was problem. Had fewer positive interviews and then fewer interviews. And had to let go of it!
I no longer allowed my sense of worth to be contingent on practicing medicine. My finances are OK and I have decided that the LORD has blessed me with the time to learn Hebrew, and study Torah which is what I say my job is, if pressed.
As a yute, hippie I knew that a job is just the means to an end and to make it the end in itself is Idolatry. Had to re-learn that.I've learned to have faith in GOD rather than Wall St. for my future security. Reply

Joshua Mattucci Philadelphia, PA December 11, 2008

Very inspirational!!!! Hello. My name is Joshua and I just read your response and found it simply amazing. I am in the same boat as he was and I hope he has better identified himself since he asked that question. Personally I feel like a failure most of the time even though I have a beautiful wife and two great kids. I always feel uncertain about who I am these days and I was not planning on that when I hit the age of 31. After reading this response I realized how I was identifying myself with my job for the past 15 years and it never occured that I have more than enough time in my life to build myself up. I have always wanted a personal relationship with God and live my dreams. I always saw myself as a sales person in and out of work and that made me feel terrible. I now see that I am a child of God and that I can work on my dreams 7 days a week if I want . Thank you again for answering a long and enduring question I've had for years. Good luck and God bless you both.

Sincerly, Reply

Patty Kingsport, TN America October 26, 2008

I'm A Failior Well, I've read all these comments, and I'm disappointed to see the one that talks about the fact that the job is what decides your success. I had a wonderful job and lost it, and have not yet found another. However I do not feel as if I have failed. I am just waiting for another to come along, and while I'm waiting I'm working to get closer to my family and friends, and doing some volunteer work as well. There fore, my not having a job or an income did not at all determine whether I failed or succeeded. It just made me set my priorities, and stick with them. Reply

Esther Lake Oswego, Oregon via chabadoregon.com October 25, 2008

Reader Comments Rabbi Moss has really hit a nerve with this article! It is most interesting to read people's intense reactions. What strikes me in reading them is the need for .... balance! It's true that we are not to be defined only by our career, but it is also true that our life's work matters. There must be balance between work, family, community, religion and self.

This is a hard thing to remember, and to maintain, but it is very important. When one of these sectors isn't working, we might need to examine all of them. And we must also remember that life will never be perfect... we will spend our lives striving for improvement. And if we truly do that, it will be a life well-spent. Reply

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