Well my first quarter at grad school has been the most stressful and depressing time of my life; way worse than highschool. But I'm trekking forth, because I'd rather fail than give up.
For my break I'm back home at my folks' in the great city of Modesto, CA. All I do is sit around, tryin to organize myself.
I've been writing this paper for the last month and a half, had to take an extension, and I just can't get it organized or concise, which is my general problem. It's actual the fatal problem, if you want to write, or do anything successfully, which I do. That and I need to think of 'big questions.' In graduate school, the main thing you do is 'come up with questions.' "What is the big question you are trying to ask?" is a common phrase I hear a great deal of here. Maybe if I were brighter I could think of something.
I never considered myself particularly intelligent or good at anything; just a dumb kid from a shithole who tried with all his might to get where he is in life, which is not anywhere particularly great, but he's still trying. He doesn't know how much harder he can try, but he'll try to try harder. Try to try.
I understand the fear of failure, though: it hurts a million times worse knowing that your best isn't good enough than it does cop-out and never face the cold reality. And it really is cold. You feel a cold shiver up and down your back, up your neck like a mullet, and around your head like a crown of shame.
I know that the typical psychiatric response is to say something like "you should love yourself anyway," or "your success in life doesn't reflect your worth as a human being," or even "you just haven't found out what you're good at." Well, I'm not particularly good at anything (plenty of career tests have told me that), I don't know if anything reflects a person's value, and I guess I'll try to love myself, but I don't really see why, especially if I'm a complete ass-hat.
Nevertheless, there's something to be said. Just because you don't feel valuable does not mean that you aren't. Your very existence has some immeasurable value to it. This is the religious response to the sorts of personal distress noted above. I simply haven't found a secular response that isn't utilitarian or mechanical in some way. There may be. My philosophy, anthropology, and theology have always been quite negative; I think the key is to accept the limitations of your own mind and abilities and let them be. I may not be good at doing the things I enjoy, like painting, cooking, math, philsophy, basketball, writing scholarly articles, or thinking deeply, but we're all just going to die anyways. Whatever important thing you do in life doesn't really matter. God be praised.