When My Friends Are Making It and I’m Not

“A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms.”
-Zen Shin
Around this time twelve months ago or so, after I had just come back from school having made the decision that I’m not going back there even though I had not finished my degree. I remember one day slowly walking to my grandmother’s bedroom, my throat bitter with pain welled up inside me and my eyes extremely heavy with heart-wrenching tears waiting to break through. Finally, I stepped into my granny’s bedroom, dived for her tender chest and comforting arms- and everything I had long held in poured out. I couldn’t hold the pain anymore, the anguishing disappointment with myself. My granny held me tightly, as if instinctively holding the little pieces of self-worth and self-esteem that I still had. I finally found the words to communicate my inner anguish, with heart-shattering sniffles in between and said, “Koko, all my friends are making it and I’m nothing- I feel like I’m a failure.”

I finally had the courage to admit, not just to my granny but mostly to myself the truth that lingered whenever I found myself scrolling through my Facebook timeline and seeing all these wonderful graduation pictures shared by friends. Or the celebratory status updates that friends would happily write about their great achievements. And what did I Katlego Llale have? Just remnants of broken dreams.

And it’s that time of the year yet again… When others are celebrating their significant milestones, some of us are crying heavy tears of feeling unaccomplished, asking God on bended knee, “When is my time coming Lord?”

So, this post is specially dedicated to every young person who feels like they keep drifting further and further away from their dreams, to every person who feels estranged amongst their friends because they are the only one in the group who is simply just not getting that greatly envied degree or qualification, to every ambitious individual who questions if their life is worth anything because their life seems to have more sorry’s than congratulations. I write this for every such person.

I want us to remember that we are not bad people for feeling a tinge of envy when our friends are graduating and we are not. It simply means our dreams are important to us and we always thought we would attain success hand-in-hand with our friends and achieve things together, and never ever thinking that we would be the ones who fall behind. Yes, we did not expect the detours and delays that we encountered in the journey to our dreams, but we need to always remember that is all they are- detours. We will still get to where we desire to be. We did not fail, we just took longer to getting to our aspired destinations and that is perfectly okay.

Encouragement for the unaccomplishedI know first hand the depression that hits you when you feel left behind, when friends are getting the stuff that you had hoped for, for yourself. It hurts and it’s important to acknowledge that. The only way that I was able to gain control of my feelings was embracing how I was feeling and why I was feeling it. It was only then that I was able to replace the feelings of disappointment, unworthiness and failure with something more empowering. And for me, this has looked like reaffirming myself as many times as I possibly needed that, “Katlego, you are great, you are doing great”. I had to remind myself that in as much as we are told to “Stay in your lane”, it is equally quite important to say we should focus solely on our own lanes and not dwell on what others are doing with their lives. This is where the 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I Younger was inspired from.

It is crucial that we remind ourselves of these as many times as necessarily possible. We might not have anything worth applauding to the world, but as an individual you know your struggles, you know the things that you have overcome that nobody knows of and that have led to you being the person that you are today and all of that is worth applauding and celebrating even if it’s only you who does that. And perhaps, maybe success is not only the degrees that we get, the jobs that we score for ourselves, but encompasses so much more than what people can ever be able to see on the outside.

So to you, the so called “unaccomplished”, I want you to know that you are great and you are doing great whatever your path may look like right now. You will get to where you want to be and I have no doubt you have the capabilities to get there.

I would like to leave you with the words my lovely grandmother, Rose Llale left me with in the story I started this post with:
Katli, forget all that’s happened in the past. Forget about what your friends and everybody else is doing. Focus on you. It’s okay to try again and re-figure out what you want to do with your life. I’m not phased by you not finishing your degree because in my heart I know that there’s something big that God has specially set in place for you. I have never doubted your greatness and neither should you. I love you.

May you find something in there that tenderly speaks to any part of you that feels let down by the trajectory that your life has taken. Twists and turns, we will emerge victorious and awed by the power of our own potential to still rise amidst all our downfalls.


49 thoughts on “When My Friends Are Making It and I’m Not

  1. Thanks Katlego. This has really helped me understand what other people may be going through. A perfect reminder to me to be considerate of others, while I also stay and focus on my own lane.

  2. Thanks Katli. I had to read this, many times we do beat ourselves up cos we had our life’s planned out but forgetting that God’s plans are not our plans. ?

    It’s hard going around, with people’s expectations yet you are no where near any of them. It’s depressing but I’ve learnt to cover it up with a ?

    1. It’s only my pleasure Kamo.

      You have really captured the essence of the matter. It does get quite depressing not living up to our own expectations and those around us. But we must always trust in God’s perfect timing, as difficult as it may be.
      We will be alright.

  3. I couldn’t have put it as eloquently as you did. I know exactly how you felt… I’ve been there. I love how you say it’s not a bad thing to envy the degree for yourself because you also shared the dream of acquiring one. Some always mistaken the envy for jelousy. I am no where near where I thought I would be in my life at the age I am at, but I trully believe that I God’s perfect timing, everything will fall into place. I’ll never stop trying… thanks Kat 🙂

    1. It’s only my pleasure Mbali.

      Thank you to you too for taking time to read and finding something that resonates with you. I love how you elaborate on the envy part. You are so right, envy is not the same as being jealous.

      I hope that you will get to where you hope to be in the near future.

      Sending much love and light to you. ❤

  4. Its always spirit lifting when you see that not everything happens to you because you a failure and not destined for great things. I thank Katz for being so open about things that i know i wouldn’t go around telling people. Failure has been my friend for quite a number of years and today am saying failure you just here to make me stronger. When you decide to go please don’t return. I took my life back degree or not am destined for great things.

    Ke a leboga Mme Llale

    1. Thank you Tebza. It’s always empowering and encouraging when you realize that some of the things that you are going through someone is also going through them. It makes us appreciate the journey more and gives us the power to continue on no matter how bad things may look. And I am humbled that I could be that person to you- a reminder that you are not alone.

      I have no doubt that you have greatness in you that’s waiting to be unleashed. You are not a failure. You are just an individual with great potential who went through some delays to your dreams.

  5. Hi Kahlego lbza here, im not a reader but my girl sent me this post as she knows my journey to where I am now supricingly I read it all even the comments afterwards.

    My story is partly similar, it was 2005 mid year doing grade 11 in SA that my family had to move in Botswana for a better life. When we got there I was told the curriculum is to high as I was in an international school so I had to be put in grade 10 funny enough my lil sister was put to a higher grade…anyway passed grade 10 again and the following year I moved to another school in bots, but my parents knew that having matric in bots will not get me to varsity in S.A., so I moved again mid year to an S.A. school.

    They didn’t know much about the school as it was the only school that could take me in mid year, now that school was pure torture. All other students except me and a few others where rejects from other schools and they were expelled or had nowhere else to go…I wouldn’t call it a school rather call it a disciplinary center why I say that is because the majority of the students had killed, raped, got shot, bullied or stabbed a student or teacher in their past schools, now back to me being one who has never even been in a fight before or even kissed a girl so yeah that was me in the mids of it all.

    My roommate had someone who owed him R50 for sometime and was not promising any payment, the guy woke up one morning boiled water went to the guy who owed him and poured hot water to the guys chest while he was asleep just to get his bucks back…yah..stupid i know and on top of that in general on how students were panished is by using a shambok the thing u use on cows, yes there wasn’t any detention or call your parents kind of punishment no they could also clap or punch your face while being held by security guards in front of everybody to show as an example to other students, if a class was making noise and u were the quiet one the whole class whole class will get the shambok nomatter what you did. All in the name of decipline, I couldn’t tell my parents as I knew they would move me to another school, proberbly repeat without failing…I only got to tell my parents after the year was complete where they thaught I’d continue with my matric there and I told them the story, Now I’ve never seen my dad cry and yeah I had to move…and so they took me to another boding school unfortunately they could t take me in straight into matric I had to do grade 11 for the third time now lol and needless to say all my friends even the ones who where at a lower grade than I was were now in varsity, and you can imagine being the old guy in class im glad i had a baby face though hahaha….let me stop my story here, for now.

    I would say I am a different breed because of the set backs I went through in my life but as I type this, 2016 is a year i had my first real job as a graphic designer and e-learning developer for a company called kalleo in S.A. and recently got an award for being the developer of the year.

    My story to how I got here did not end at high school but I just don’t want to waste space on your page, and the other story after high school relates to your battle. But I just wanted to share my struggles before I got to our relating battles in varsity so someone out there learns to run their own race and find their rhythm like any other engine so ur able to move forwards.

    Getting pulled back to lower grades was like a tide I couldn’t control at a time I couldn’t even swim but I had to humble myself, this analogy relates to how to handle a big tide comming towards you, all you need to do is not to try and stay tall instead lower yourself and after everytide just lower yourself, in return you will find your rhythm believe me in no time swimming through life’s tides will come in naturally.

    Sorry for the long text I will sent you the rest of my story if you don’t mind, but hope it was worth the read.

    1. Hey Lbza.

      Thank you for sharing your story. Don’t apologise for taking up space, I’m sure there will be someone who gets encouraged by seeing this in the comments.

      Congratulations on all your great achievements for this year. Reading your story made me realize that no matter what setbacks we may face, whatever we are meant to be doing and contributing to the world will happen and whatever is meant for us will really not miss us.

      Thank you.

  6. I totally conqure with the writer..
    God has our lives well planned ,we worry about whats beyond our control..
    I choose to enjoy each season that life brings…
    Taking our day at a time and staying focused on the right thing each moment..

  7. Don’t stop doing what you’re doing. The energy you’re spreading will not only uplift many but it will heal many broken hearts.

    1. Thank you so much for these words of encouragement. They are really appreciated and I hope to continue spreading the positive energy and allowing people to find some sort of healing in my words. ❤

  8. Thank You Katlego, after reading This I am Certain without a Doubt that the Best of Me is Yet to Manifest that The World Will Marvel at For GOD’S Glory!

  9. Katz, I’m lost for words. I’ve had the worst year ever somehow during my exams my “unaccomplishment” haunted me more than ever, every night was soaked in tears and I just couldn’t bring myself to pouring my chest out to anyone including myself like admitting that this was getting to me so much,It hurt so deep it started surfacing all of a sudden life was pointless it had no direction all of a sudden I felt like I was a burden to everyone who had to get my bill ,my rent, my tuition fees, my groceries and all. I thought of taking my own life(which I knew better) I was hopeless and helpless- horrible combination . I finally found the courage to share what I was going through with my boyfriend , he was so supportive and it keeps me going the way he believes in me , somehow I’m learning to believe in myself again. I’ve told myself ” I’m not rewriting my story but rather, starting a new chapter that’s all about my destination”.

    It’s great to know I’m not the only one that’s detoured from the norms of life

    1. Thanks a million for this Marcia.

      You really brought tears to my eyes with what you wrote because I remember that place you were in so vividly. I had also lost hope for life, I didn’t see the point of living anymore and I also felt guilty when my mom had to pay all these tuition fees and yet I was not doing so well.

      I am so happy that you were able to find hope and be able to get back on your feet again. I am grateful that your boyfriend became some sort of anchor to you to be able to stand firm again in who you are.

      I love what you said, starting a new chapter. That’s how we should look at things when they seem to have went wrong. It’s really okay to start over.

      May your new chapter be a beautiful one to write. ❤?

  10. Being someone that’s going through the exact same thing I really appreciate your words. Coming from a black family that has been through hardships my parents have always focused on education and when I finished matric and wanted to take a gap year, they were not hearing any of that. Because they believe that to be successful you need to have a degree so I enrolled for a bsc degree and I hate it. Watching everyone I went to high school with doing amazing things and even the people I started varsity with are out here making waves and I feel stagnant. I too want to quit my degree because in all this madness I figured out what I want to do and what my dream is but my parents want to hear nothing about it. They still want me to get a degree and a job because that’s what they know and being an entrepreneur is a foreign concept. I just want to do something that I want and I know that I will give it a 100%. So sis Katlego how did you go about leaving your degree? Cause I need tips on how to tell my parents that I’m done and don’t want to go back to feelings of depression and anxiety.

    1. Thank you for this Nosipho. I can imagine how burdensome it must be trying to live up to the expectations of your family while sacrificing your own happiness and peace.

      Although our stories are different because my family has been supportive of me in the decision of not continuing with my degree. However, what I think you could do is to sit your family down and explain to them how doing this degree that you hate has affected you mentally and emotionally and that you can’t continue suffering for something that you don’t have a heart for. Tell them rather what you would like to do and why.

      I know it’s not always easy for us to communicate to our parents because they often struggle to come down to our level and see things from our perspective but it is worth a try. If it happens that they still don’t hear it, then it will all come down to you- if you are going to have the boldness to be true to you, take your own path and go against your family’s wishes no matter how they may react, or if you’ll just go with the way things have been, swallow everything up and just finish the degree.

      I hope you’ll be able to choose what makes you happy and live a life that aligns with your heart’s desires.

      All the best. ❤

  11. Very interesting encouraging. God is truly working with you. Note that success is not always defined by a degree you have accomplished but by living a purposeful life and that’s what I believe you are doing, fulfilling your name. Thanks and may you allow God to continue use in a mighty way, God bless.

  12. Very inspiring and encouraging. Note that success doesn’t always come in a degree form but with a purposeful life which you are already doing at the moment. Hold on God will intervene soon as you continue to allow him to use you. You are already living up to your name, God bless.

  13. Hello Katle ?. I really want to thank you for sharing your ideas and your emotional experience with feeling “unaccomplished”with us. I have felt this recently and have even compared my self to a friend for she is assertive and knows what she wants and I tend to waver about about things; And that might not be a good look for someone who will be working in the world of commerce.
    But I definitely feel reassured thanks to reading this insightful piece.
    Thank you spook much and I can’t wait to read more from you. Jesus is proud and loves you❤
    P.S. if you don’t have a Facebook page for the fertile wound I think it would be a good idea.
    P.P.S.I hope you understand what I am saying here. This is pretty long?

    1. Hey dear. Thank you for taking the time to comment on this post and also willingly sharing your experience with the same thing. I can relate with being a person who wavers about things but to my defence I’m just too much of a creative person and I can tend to be unfocused when something doesn’t really interest me. But just take time to understand that aspect of you and find ways you can make it work to your advantage within the field you are in.

      Thank you for allowing my words to speak to you, really happy that you took something from it.
      Thank you so much for those lovely words. ❤

      A Facebook page is in the pipeline so that my writing can be easily accessible. So thank you for that and finding value in what I write.

      I understood everything. ?

  14. Now with this, I’m not gonna say much?

    Wow Katz you really are a blessing, continue to be an inspiration you are, millions of young stars even older peeps will find or re-discover their true potential thanx to this blog post….

    Anyone who was at the a point of giving up or who had already threw in the towel will definitely pick it up!!
    It’s like I can already see them with faces like ??? towards what they failed to achieve, and starting to view life from a different perspective, with a more clearer ?vision “An Eye of an EAGLE”



  15. Had tears in my eyes when I read this… Coz it is exactly how I feel… And to top it all off add 2 kids and going towards my 40s… Thank you.. I know my Mom would say the exact words Koko said. Thank you

    1. **Big hug**

      I trust you got to release all that you had kept inside of you and I’m grateful that this post was able to tenderly speak to you. Thank you to you too for taking the time to read.

  16. Hi Katlego

    I finally found someone who’s walked in my shoes. Your blog gives me life and it made me realise how fertile my wound really is. 2016 was supposed to be my year. I made plans. Halfway through this year I realised that my ship was sinking and there was no way I am graduating. I made peace-or I thought I did. I came home after finals, after convincing myself that I was okay. That’s when it hit, when it really settled in that I’m behind. That i will not finish when I thought I would. I’ve heard it a million times, that it’s my race i should go at my own pace. That I should stay in my lane. I had heard them all. Still wasn’t enough. It hit one day. It hit real deep. I couldn’t feel anything, I was numb. I thought I could continue into the new and repeat my final year as if nothing had happened. Little did I know that I was not alone. I bumped into your blog on Facebook. The title caught my attention. I started to read, I felt emotion. The part about diving into your granny’s arms, that’s what got me. I wept. I felt like I was diving into your arms. I kept on reading, you held me. The last pieces of self worth that I had , you reminded me that I’m human and most importantly I’m not alone. I keep re-reading this post. It gave me life, it gave me hope. Thank you sis. Keep writing, I appreciate you. xoxo

    1. Hey Regomoditswe,

      I don’t usually run out of words but reading what you wrote to me hit a really deep place in my heart. You too made me shed some tears. For a moment I felt like I am one with someone, finding countless pieces of myself in someone else’s words/story. So I believe it as you have said, we have walked in each other’s shoes.

      And I am greatly moved that the mere reading of my words somehow held you when you needed to be held, encouraged you and gave you hope when you were disheartened.

      Thank you to you as well. Reading your words was a special, heartfelt moment for me. Thank you sis.

      Much love, strength and light to you.

  17. Wow Katli, you evoked emotions in me that I have been suppressing for the longest time. The tears are literally flowing as I write this. Thank you for your wisdom. Thank you for the gentle reminder that it’s not the end as yet, I mean 16 years later, 2kids and 32 years of age. I truly do feel left so behind. Even thinking maybe a change in career would wake me because for now I feel very dead.

    Thank you to Koko for her encouraging words. I wish I could always remember them when things go uphill.

    You’ve given me something to look forward to in 2017. Thank you very much Katli

    1. Lebo, I am so moved by this comment. I feel that you are in a somewhat uncomfortable space in your life and you are longing for a major change and turnaround. I hope that you get that which you desire and may you get to experience the newness of life once again. But may you have all the light which you seek.

      It’s only my pleasure having written this and I am grateful to you too for having taken the time to read the post and finding something of value.

      All the best for 2017. <3

      Please do come back to this post whenever you need gentle encouragement because we can forget when things get dark again.

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