Do You Suffer From Failed Potential Syndrome?

I think I am recovering from a disease that I didn’t even know had a name. When I read about Failed Potential Syndrome in the Daily Mail, the symptoms sounded disturbingly familiar. FPS is characterized by peer envy (check), failure to launch (check), and a general feeling that you haven’t quite achieved what you had expected to by a certain age (double check). Well, at least it’s good that I can finally diagnose myself?

See, I was a superstar kid. You know—the one who gets good grades and the leads in all of the community theater plays. The one whose parents may have made her feel a little bit too special. The one who might have been a little bit awkward, but was banking on her smarts and talents to catapult her into all-around adult greatness and mega-success.
A young overachiever. Yeah, that was me. When I got into NYU early decision to study acting, I was sure that I was on the fast track to celeb hood. Oh, I was so wrong. Shortly after graduating with little fanfare, my acting career hit the skids. I could NOT endure another off-off-off-Broadway play, amateur horror film, or humiliating audition. What would I do next? Eat humble pie … for a decade. I went through an ungodly series of career fails. Failed actress turned odd-jobber, turned broke-ass loser, turned grad school dropout, turned frustrated high school teacher, turned Broadway production bitch. With each passing job, I seemed to get less and less successful, more and more broke, and increasingly envious of my peers.

While I was busy wallowing in career angst and feeling crappy about myself, somehow my friend Crystal from elementary school had become a rich, television star and my ex-boyfriend Frank had become a millionaire business owner with two houses. And I was even jealous of the friends who weren’t technically rich. Alan was in a well-known rock band, Jane was married with children, Sarah wrote a freaking book, and Jon had a show at the Whitney!! And here I was. 30. Single. Broke. And doing something I didn’t even remotely like. Humble pie was starting to taste like s**t. So how did I release myself from the talon grip of FPS?

I decided I had to make a big change—I had to actually get off my butt and pursue something I LIKED again. So what if I’d failed in the past? Maybe I was never really meant to be a famous actress. This time I was better prepared to follow my secret passion. I scrapped it all (not that I had much to lose, besides an evil boss and a lousy paycheck), took a risk, and decided I would become a writer. And from that determination and passion grew a slow but blossoming kernel of success that grew into a bigger kernel of success that will hopefully continue to grow much bigger. I’m not hoping for celebrity status this time or even a nice apartment, let alone a mansion—just a feeling of pride. In fact, I feel so good that when Crystal told me that she sold the script for her film, I said, “Congratulations!” and truly meant it.

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