In the final years of the 19th century, 100,000 people abandoned their lives and families to pursue life-changing opportunities in the gold mines of Klondike. Only 30,000 made it there; treacherous terrain, harsh weather, and smallpox killed the rest.

People heading to Klondike

Those who escaped death at the hands of nature didn’t get far away from the snares of bloodthirsty profiteers. The rest withered away with the diminishing water supply, away from the families and lives they abandoned in pursuit of Klondike Gold. In the end, only a handful got rich—or even made it out alive—before the corporations swooped in. 

When you come across stories like this, you’ll never picture yourself among the first 70,000 buried in knee-deep snow, with final thoughts of gangrenous frostbite and a deep sense of regret. Instead, you will imagine yourself braving avalanches, escaping menacing death, and striking ultimate gold.

Unfortunately, you are not as special as you think, my friend. That’s just your ego trying to subdue your common sense. Unless you walk around with a pocket Maneki Neko, life will haul several avalanches your way. Not even your inflated ego can guarantee you a safe landing.

But don’t blame your ego for this delusion; we are all spinning in a whirlpool of success porn cloaked in see-through veils of optimism. Instagram is a constant breeding ground for unhealthy competition between strangers; everyone on the timeline is happy and successful. You fall in love with TikTok clips of David Goggins and Jocko Willink barking at you to “get your ass up and work”. Your successful friends are reposting this content, so they must have cracked the formula. 

So, you stay in bed after returning from a job you hate, scrolling through the airbrushed realities on Pinterest. Since you are not hopping on flights to overpriced vacation spots, then you must have failure in your genes. And when you finally get your fill of this self-destructive voyeurism, you become convinced that you are a failure. 

Well, you are, but the good news is that you aren’t the only one failing. 

You see, we all grew up believing that failure is not an option—a harmful mantra that has plunged many souls into unhappy lives and early graves. If you finish last, then you must’ve lacked the tenacity to power through that extra mile. 

Beyond all reason, you soldier on with the intensity of a gegenpresser. Every thought of stepping off the throttle is interrupted by flashbacks of getting scolded at the dinner table for failing your Math test again. Cautionary tales about spiteful relatives who were too lazy to make it out of the village become the subject of your nightmares.

As you handle these unrealistic expectations of succeeding at all costs, your woes stack up as you watch friends and strangers navigate life like a knife through main-market butter. You convince yourself that you need to change your mindset; time to get rid of laziness. 

That initial dopamine rush pumps you with a turbulent stream of energy to get up from your bed and embrace the grind. But just as things start going in your favor, you take a tumble and land face-first in the aja-upa mud with your feet flailing in the air. Anecdotes about your failure reach you from strangers’ lips. Jokes about your foes ring around in the same circles that revered you. 

Exhausted man on Klondike

This is the perfect time to give up. You are at the bottom, you are the bottom, and this feels like home. There is no pressure to wake up at 05:00 to beat the traffic—time to forget the stories of people who failed a million times before striking gold. You are not those people; you are not Thomas Edison or Walt Disney. After all, for every grass-to-grace story, a thousand others pushed themselves over the literal and figurative edge. And you, my friend, are close to the cliff.

But just as you are about to give up, the remnants of your ego flicker into one last burst of energy. So you stubbornly hang on to that last ray of light to lead you out of the darkness. You pep-talk yourself into extracting positives from your failures and finding meaning in the simple things. Maybe your business didn’t fail; you just suffered minor financial setbacks. Slogans like “destiny delayed, not deferred” fuel your reignited passions. 

With the death grip of a mountaineer hanging on to a harness, you hold on to hope. Even if you can’t go on, the thought of becoming a cautionary tale at diner parties pushes you to dig in with everything you’ve got. Think of failure as a scar, not a birthmark. These scars will make you battle-hardened and become part of your story. And who knows, you might be one final push away from breaking a generational curse and becoming the Lord of Klondike.

2 thoughts on “Failure”

  1. I think it’s not really about ego that makes one never imagining himself losing to it’s adversary in the world of imaginations. Many are usually glad your problem ain’t theirs simply because we’ve been wired to embrace the best at all times.

    We literally tend to give up at overwhelming struggles when we can barely see the end of the tunnel. The honest truth is that we live on all because we have hope of a better tomorrow. But while in the tunnel, you see no blink of a light in the path you tread, that’s heavily overwhelming, a situation of ‘against all hopes’.

    Thanks for this piece as we head towards the promised land daring to hope even against all hopes, that some day, we would definitely be among the 30,000 that made it through the treacherous terrain, harsh weather, having escaped death at the hands of nature and bloodthirsty profiteers without withering away with the diminishing water supply, families, lives and even comfort zones we abandoned in pursuit of ‘Klondike Gold’. However to be among the very handful that did not just make it alive but as well got rich.

    1. Thanks for reading! You are right. What matters most is to know when to feed your ego and when to defy it in pursuit of an ultimate goal.

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