It’s not fun to fail, nor does it seem very rewarding at face value. Take my late 20s to early 30s as an example- I’ve been through more moves, more rejections, and more financial hardship than a lot of people in my social circles with the exception of some military personnel I know. What I have thought were surefire career paths- working abroad in Japan, doing in-house localization, teaching, professional ministry- have been shot down a number of times. What’s more, with my current skilled job I can barely afford to pay all my bills, either, which seems somewhat counter intuitive. There are quite a few reasons for this, but suffice to say that through my failures and failed starts I have been made stronger and more resilient, all while doing my best to be a good husband and father.
First off, let me say that our current public education system for grade school and even many universities- including many private ones- push socialism and equality of outcomes, especially in the past 20 years or so. The fact is, there is neither equality of opportunity nor is there equality of outcome, and there shouldn’t be equality of outcomes. Ideally, there should be equality of opportunity in a true free market system, but this is simply not the case. Even in the U.S. and some other first world countries, if you are born to wealthy parents, chances are you will not be left to go hungry on the streets, even if you are an unskilled drug addict that provides little to no market value. Conversely, brilliant young men and women with sharp minds and skills could very well be passed over if they do not know the right people or do not market themselves well. On the other hand, equality of outcomes is socialism, in which the government seeks to make everyone equal, and the only way to do that is to crush the free market by force and create widespread, equal poverty for all. This, of course, is always a terrible idea, and has been proven a terrible idea throughout human history.
Though it’s not a great feeling, failing should be celebrated in a free market system because, ideally, it means that the market corrects itself to allow the best and brightest in certain industries and for those to thrive. Products and services also become cheaper and better with more competition and less government intervention. Certainly one of the biggest obstacles to true free markets is the human condition of greed and selfishness. Many students who go through public education, and even some private schools, often feel entitled to a great high paying job or some amazing career without working for it. In fact, I somewhat felt this way after graduating from Baylor University about 13 years ago, but I have learned more through failing and trial and error than anything I have ever learned in the classroom. Although it’s not desirable now as a Gen Xer/Millenial to have gone through what I have been through as far as career rejections, it will pay off one day.
The moral decline of society is also a major issue, as we have seen for the past 50 to 60 years. The sexual revolution of the 1960’s and the decline of the traditional family and role of Christianity in homes and schools have certainly contributed to our system becoming more and more crony capitalist in nature than true free market.
For me personally, in all honestly, it’d be easy to throw in the towel and give up on finding a higher paying career. If I could provide for my family simply by doing menial tasks with a set schedule and few to no surprises, I absolutely would, but our world thrives on climbing corporate ladders, forgoing health and sometimes safety to get more money, and being the best at everything, unfortunately. After all, I am not aggressive by nature (unless confronted directly or in crunch time) nor do I have a great network or networking skills. At this point, I have to question our education system and the narrative of “Go to college and get a better job.” Sure, this does well for people who are engineers, doctors, or lawyers, and a college degree cost less decades ago and held more value, whereas the reverse is true today.
In conclusion, having the freedom to fail and not get propped up by the welfare state or other government intervention greatly helps. While it seems unfair and frustrating to fail in the short run, it makes us stronger and better.