I come from a large immigrant family that touts nearly unanimous success stories: Ivy League educations, high-paying jobs, expensive homes, no divorce, beautiful children. They’re also all really good people. I feel like a failure because I haven’t lived up to my potential. I didn’t take advantage of certain opportunities when I was younger. I didn’t even know they existed, and now it’s too late for things like internships at fancy companies, applying to selective graduate schools, living in the “right” city, etc. I’m unmarried in my late 30s without kids. I have a partner, but we are having trouble. The point is I am not a success story, especially when compared with my relatives.
People tell me “We’re all on different paths” and “Comparison is the thief of joy,” blah blah blah. But the fact is that I came from the same family as my siblings and cousins, and they all turned out really successful. My not having the same relationship, career, academic, or financial success is a reflection on my failures. I just don’t know how to cope. I am sure my elders point to me and think, Thank God she’s not our daughter. I don’t want to continue feeling so hateful toward myself. What are some practical ways for me to change my perspective on myself?
—Making Peace With Being the Black Sheep