Up to when I was 28, I enjoyed the Kool Aid. My failures, were in many ways what many would consider success. For example, I got seriously ashamed when I could not do my PhD in MIT but got a position at ETH Zürich. Yes, I was an asshole. I probably still am
Things collapsed shortly after. I got fired, I got depressed, I got divorced. None of these failures could be considered a success. Worse still, all of these happened while the people in bed told me that I had done my best and improved absurdly much. I was just not enough. That fucking hurt.
You have two lives. And the second one starts when you realize you have only one. Or so goes the proverb. That was me in 2015. Lost and looking for a way out. I search for hours for books that could help me understand who I was. I tried to read Nietzsche's Ecce Homo, for example, and learned that what I was not was a philosopher.
Slowly though. In my denial, I learned how poisonous the Kool Aid I drank really was. In my selfish aim to remove any blame on my crisis from myself, I blamed media. I blamed everyone for what happened. But as in every grief process denial went away.
It is years after, but I can still not write what I want without sharing how I remember my immigrant story. Things are going great now. I still have loads of anxious as without Kool Aid the foundations of my emotions are weaker than before. But I learned to love normal things and to enjoy being human.
I still battle with normalcy and not trying to be just good but great. But something help get me back down. Marriage, children, love. These are things that are absurdly common. But that paradoxically feel as personal as personal and unique as anything in life.
How much joy and happiness comes from these simple normal acts. How much joy is Hidden behind the bag I'm the eyes. The exhaustion in the your partner's face. How much hope and beauty. How much courage it takes to think of a future in a time of crisis.
If I have learned anything in my 35+ years is to value the normal things. They have so much joy hidden in their daily rituals.