How to accept not being good enough?

Hey everyone. This is the first time I have made a post here and I don't have anyone to talk to. I'm sorry if this gets too long, but I really needed to get this off my chest.

In school, I used to be a high achieving, super competitive person with big aspirations. Unfortunately, I was rejected from the universities I wanted to go to and I lost the motivation to do well in my exams. I ended up at a non-target university. My parents were incredibly disappointed and were ashamed by my grades, as was I. Everyone we knew had done really well and had offers from elite universities, so that essentially compounded my failure. They kicked me out the house and I stopped talking to all my friends, since their success just made me hate myself for my failure.

I have tried extremely hard to network and get internships. None of the former alumni from my university work in high finance, so it was quite hard to reach out to people. I have completely lost count of the number of applications I have made. I have been rejected every single time. I see all my old friends at the best target schools getting amazing internships and it just makes me feel worthless the way my life has ended up. Everything was my fault. It was my fault I didn't work harder. It was my fault I didn't get better grades. It was my fault I ended up at a bad university. This has made me depressed since I always think about where I could've been if I worked harder. I have grown to hate myself even more. 

Over the past few months, I have had several moments of introspection and I have really tried to overcome this negative attitude, but my external environment (low career prospects) has kept me miserable. I struggled with accepting that I am not good enough to get into my ideal career and that there are far superior candidates who will always be preferred to me. I have reluctantly lowered my expectations but I still can't deal with the fact that I am not good enough.

I have realised that crying solves nothing (lol) and I am not going to suddenly wake up one day as a different person who can solve my problems. After countless rejections, I have decided to give up on the IB/high finance dream and have accepted that I simply am not good enough. I look at the profile of successful applicants and it just makes me feel so useless and inferior. I have started seeing a therapist to help with my self-esteem issues and to work on hating myself less. My parents don't talk to me and I have no friends so it has been pretty hard.

I know that this industry in general is incredibly competitive and many of you reading this will probably laugh at how 'weak-minded' I am, but for every successful applicant there are far more unsuccessful applicants you don't see. Growing up, we are not really taught how to deal with failure and many people struggle as a result.

I am going into my final year of university and I am ready to start applying for full-time graduate roles. How do I 'settle' and accept something less? I know this whole post sounds very entitled, but I have been struggling with this issue for a long time. Every time I try to do something positive I always remember my failures and how successful my old friends have become compared to me. For those of you who are didn't get into what you really wanted, how did you cope? How do you give up on your dreams and move on?

I would genuinely appreciate any advice. :)

Thanks.

Comments (30)

Most Helpful
  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Jun 23, 2022 - 11:46am

honestly it's in situations like this where having a no-regrets policy is so helpful.

It looks you are holding on to the fact that you didn't make it into a top uni or countless no. of applications are being rejected - and that's holding you back even more. Just stop thinking about all of that because there's nothing you can do about that. Can you change any of that? No right?

I'll tell you what - all the way up till senior year of high school I pretty much underperformed on a regular basis. Not gonna get into the reasons behind it but the moment I got to my non-target uni I forgot all about how I failed to do well in high school or even before that or I couldn't get into a top ranked school. Instead, I concentrated on the present which in turn would affect my future.

I decided okay here's where I want to get to, here's where I am today, and here's what it'll take to get there. And mind you it wasn't easy because it took me 8-9 months of hardcore recruiting to actually get the internship I wanted. I faced so many hurdles and countless rejections too until I got the offer but I never gave up. The day you give up, it's over uk.

So, I would say forget the past (the longer u hold onto it the bigger it's burden will be), and never give up. You will eventually get to where you want to be as long as you continue to put in the effort and work towards it.

Jun 23, 2022 - 8:57pm
conrad_candor, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks for your honesty OP. I came from a somewhat similar background - my family is well-educated and puts a premium on name, and it was disappointing for my parents to know I did not get into their "top-choice". I started as a pre-med student (chemistry & math) and quickly realized that I was doing what I was doing for them, not me. My freshman summer I took a 180 and declared a major in economics, and began recruiting for summer internships. I can't overstate the amount of time I spent networking, and in retrospect was prob too much for the roles I wanted. Flash forward to the end of this spring, I was able to get an offer from a solid shop. My college has a very small list of alumni in M&A, but I was able to leverage it. Besides the alumni base, ig networking is simply a volume game. 

From my experience, I would ask you why IB/high finance is so appealing - is it part of your desire for a career goal, or rather (this might be a bit of a reach) a way to fill your self-proclaimed void of achievement? If it is your career goal, I think with enough hard work you can force yourself into a boutique shop and get M&A exposure from there. Learning everything you can and lateraling out might be your best bet, imo. If its not the career appeal, start to think about what role you want in the business world that is notably less stressful. No point in burning yourself out for something you are relatively uncertain you want to do - there's a huge opportunity cost

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Jun 23, 2022 - 9:08pm

comparison is the thief of joy, seems like a lot of your reasons for doubt and self-hatred are comparing yourself to others. Obviously to say someone (as a human) can just stop comparing themselves to others is impossible, but you can make steps to focus on what YOU are doing. Maybe delete your linkedin and IG for just a week and build a routine that you find gives you purpose? Try it for a week (don't cheat!) and see what happens? Try things you have never done before, start a new hobby? Once you start to appreciate your optionality in life and the small things around you it will help you find purpose and build a plan that you can commit to. Good luck, and be happy about what you've accomplished thus far. I'm sure many people would be happy to be in your shoes!

Jun 23, 2022 - 10:17pm
tacobellmonkey, what's your opinion? Comment below:

There are miserable people in high finance and miserable people outside of high finance. A job, especially a job that works you to death, will not single-handedly bring you happiness. Instead of worrying about what you think is failure and the corresponding negative perception from others, control what you can control: yourself.

Jun 23, 2022 - 10:40pm
IncomingIBDreject, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Get off of social media and stop comparing. Make new friends in your current school.

Array

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Jun 23, 2022 - 11:00pm

I can't tell you how many people who aren't "good enough" have great jobs on Wall Street/in finance. I frequently look up the profiles of people I see on CNBC, and there are countless times when I look them up and say "They went THERE?" With "there" being an unimpressive college. But what they did was work hard at learning what they needed know, and they networked like hell and eventually someone gave them their break. This can happen to you. All you have to do is learn the basics of the area you want to go into, practice talking-the-talk so it at least sounds like you know what you're talking about,have a genuine interest in your desired field and be personable when you get the opportunity to talk to people -- not annoying and verbose, but be polite, be brief and be pleasant. If you have a good attitude and you seem knowlegable/passionate about what you're talking about, SOMEONE is going to give you a chance.

But first things first -- you gotta form some relationships... that's the spine of a happy life. Try to reconcile with your family, and if that doesn't work (and even if it does), you have to start trying to form some friendships. They don't have to be best friends, but try to meet people who share similar interests as you: join a gym, a ping pong or chess club, softball league, Escape Room Club (is that a thing?)... the point is, when the professional part of your life is shit, you need to have these relationships in life to fall back on. And when things are good (and they will be if you don't give up), you want to share and celebrate these things. Bottom line, start putting yourself out there so that you can meet people so you can start having relationships and experiences with other people. As long as you're not a downer or negative person, it's gonna happen. Do this simultaneously with starting to develop your professional plan:  figure out what you wanna do, then figure out how to get there. That might mean taking a Back office or middle office job somewhere, or transferring to a school that has investment/finance clubs that will give you a network of people that will help propel you to where you want to go. But the point is, form a plan to get your goals, and then you'll have HOPE... and then take the required actions to help you achieve your goals, and you'll wake up everyday with a purpose and a plan of attack. This alone should put you in a better mood, and will also increase your chances of getting where you want to go. But don't forget, you have to work at also forming relationships so that you can improve your overall life and happiness, not just your professional prospects.

I'm telling you, work hard at what you need to do, start relentlessly contacting people on Linkedin and persevere even when you get a ton of rejections -- and it's gonna happen for you. Might take 6 or 12 months, but it'll happen. Good luck.

  • Intern in PE - LBOs
Jun 23, 2022 - 11:45pm

"Say no to drugs" kids will not like this but the simplest/easiest way to "fix" your perspective in a situation like this is to try acid/shrooms (provided you do not have bpd). It will pretty much force you to take the bigger picture and reevaluate what is important in life. If you do not believe me read any of the thousands of anecdotes online. IMO the interns telling you to just pull yourself by your bootstraps are not addressing the actual problem which is the feeling of guilt/depression when comparing yourself to peers. And let's be honest we all know this won't go away if you turn off social media or pick up a hobby, even if these do help. It's more important to make yourself realize that none of this is as important as we make ourselves think it is, and psychedelics are meant to help with exactly that.

Jun 24, 2022 - 12:57am
Dwight-Schrute, what's your opinion? Comment below:

First of all, be proud of yourself for getting to the final year of university while overcoming the personal adversity of being kicked out of the home. But, you need to wake up and realize there are so many VALUABLE career paths OUTSIDE of "high finance." Yeah, it doesn't sound as "cool" to work in marketing at mid-market tech company or in FP&A while you see others get into big brand names like Goldman, etc. but that doesn't mean you can't find a good starting point. 

I had a TBI in high school, had to relearn to walk and read, and was only accepted into a non-target for a fucking liberal arts degree. I picked my ass up, wiped the chip off my shoulder, and decided to make the most of my situation. I found I had a knack for writing and by the end of my undergrad I was writing and delivering briefings for my company's (no-name tech company I interned at and then got promoted to consultant) executive team, government defense partners, and other stakeholders. I was discharged from treatment after five years, finished my undergrad on time, went straight in for my MBA, and now lead a strategy program, working 60 hours a week, at a MM PE Portco making 160k a year at 24 years old. Is it Goldman? No. Is it responsibility, manageable hours, and good money? Absolutely. 

"High finance" isn't the only path to success and you need to remember "it's what you make of it." Pick your head up and make the most of what you got, you won't recognize yourself a year from now. Find a skill you are good at, find a niche where you can bring value to a company with this skill, and make your company and yourself some fucking money. 

PM me if you need it.

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Cov
Jun 24, 2022 - 3:11am

I suggest a longer-term view and a growth mindset.

You might not be good enough today. 100% authentic experience: I was such a shitty intern that my then MD in equity research said I was never going to work in an investment bank because I had (1) a poor attitude; (2) such a lack of attention to detail; (3) questionable work ethic; (4) not self-studying hard enough. 

Now I work in an investment bank and got an A2A proposal 1.6 years in. I'm a big old for an Analyst/Associate position, and my bank is not Goldman or Lazard, but I've been constantly learning, growing, and improving. I don't see why you cannot accomplish the same. 

Jun 24, 2022 - 4:21am
maplesyrup334, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Look at Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos. I'm sure they have failed more times than they succeeded. You have to take a VC approach with your life. Keep trying multiple times, and eventually one will work. From there it's grinding but then you also have to deal with politics. But that's another story. If you truly want to be successful and have no BS with politics you must own the factors of production. 

  • Intern in Consulting
Jun 24, 2022 - 5:42pm

all of the above, plus these: First, I extremely doubt you'd be the first finance major from ur uni pursuing a front office role so look search company linkedin pages for alumni. Second, the ppl dont have to be alumni for you to build a general connection. Try finding people from the same hometown/state/region. Third, call up regional boutiques in your area if you really can't get an interview through external applications. Geography plays a big role in recruiting.

Also restrain yourself from using LinkedIn unless you're using your time to look for professionals to contact

Jun 24, 2022 - 8:27pm
GoingToBeAnMD, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I'm sorry guys, but someone has to say this: there is some non-zero probability that OP is trolling. Your parents kicked you out and disowned you because you got into some universities, just not the top ones??? Sorry, but that sounds fishy as fuck. Either you have the worst parents that have ever existed in the history of all humanity or you're lying; Occam's Razor says you're lying. 

On the off chance that you have some sincerity in your post then you should realize that your career and the success/achievements that you will draw from it go way, way beyond what job you end up right out of school. There are plenty of other ways to work in finance both now and as your career progresses. I'm on my way to meeting my goal of becoming an MD and I work at a job that I thoroughly enjoy and make a very, very good living for myself . . . and I didn't even work in finance until my late 30s! 

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Jun 24, 2022 - 9:19pm
neeeedhelp, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I have absolutely no reason to lie about anything. I have been bottling up a lot of my feelings and I don't have anyone to talk to, so it felt like a weight off my shoulders when I made the initial post. It was honestly a relief to write out how I was feeling.

My parents are asian and they immigrated here, so they grew up with that traditional mindset when it came to things like education etc. - That's not necessarily a bad thing and they did instil some positive values, but there was a ridiculous pressure growing up when it came to what would usually be 'normal things'. All my parents friends' kids have gone on to study at elite universities and I was always compared to them, so naturally when I ended up at a non-target, I knew they would be disappointed. I just didn't think it would be such a big deal to them since my dad basically told me to leave the house and carry on with my life. I used to keep in contact with my mom and call her often but even that became less frequent and eventually just stopped, because my dad didn't want her talking to me. It's hard to explain to people who haven't grown up in such environments, but them not talking to me is sort of like a punishment for 'bringing shame to them' and all that bullshit.

But anyways, for your second point - after reading through the replies, I have tried to take a positive outlook on other pathways available. In my mind I always had this mindset that you have to get everything right first time. So basically: top grades -> elite university -> competitive job lined up right after graduating. It seems that most people who 'get things right' essentially succeed at each step and never mess up. If you do mess up, the situation becomes exponentially harder because there are numerous 'perfect' guys ready to take your place. That's one of the main reasons I have felt so dejected because I feel I have failed at one of the hurdles and I'm now out of the race.

Jun 25, 2022 - 5:22pm
cfperson123, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I went to a non-target, non-finance that nobody here has likely has ever heard of. I went for my MS and was able to get into CF via an internship during a hard job market. It's important to remember a few things.

  1. Focus on getting the most out of the opportunities you are given. It's really important to remember most people who make it to finance roles got lucky. Many hiring managers openly admit on this forum it's hard to differentiate and they just look for the first good enough candidate they see. Not even to get into factors such as who your family is, where you are from, etc. Just commit that whatever you get you will do your best. People can sense if they are your backup plan when they interview you
  1. You don't know what you don't know. There are many people who make it to IB/PE and hate it. So don't compare X/Y. Focus on being where your feet are. You have no idea if you would be happy in finance anyway. Just keep your eyes and ears open. Be a yes person. Save your no's for when they count. The only way you find out is by saying yes. I saw so many people in grad school not get new opportunities because they said IB or bust. So now they pay a shitload to get a degree that did nothing for them. They could have had a corporate role that might have kept them in the game. Instead they are still engineers just with more debt and a new title.
  1. Come to grips with the fact that not everybody gets the same opportunities and that not everybody makes the most of them. I know several people from wealthy families who had a cake walk into IB, couldn't hack it and are out of finance all together. Just because someone else got the opportunity does not mean they will make the most of it. That applies to you too. Even if you got in, you might have sucked.
  1. Don't fall victim to resulting. You are honestly trying to play the wrong hand here. You are trying to play a non-target with no alum network like a target. The results have been bad but your EV was negative to begin with so you should have expected that. Some positive EV options may be to focus on getting into an MS program now or to get into an IB adjacent field like FP&A where an MBA program might give you a path to use your experience to leverage an opportunity.
  1. Lastly, your friends doing well is the best thing that can possibly happen to you. If it makes you sad, rethink how it plays out.

Glad you are seeing a therapist. It does get better. If I had to wager a common theme across all fields, finding your first job is a universally terrible experience. It's more about timing than you think, but boy does it feel personal. Once you apply for experienced roles, you know if you miss it may be due to lack of experience, not the right experience, etc., but the first job it feels like they are picking other people over you because of their personality. They aren't. It's mostly just who was the best candidate, first.

  • Teller in Non-profit
Jun 25, 2022 - 6:13pm

Bruh, it's all about perspective. There is no singular, absolute measure of success. School, company, grades, money, air miles status, access to gold clubs, private jet, patents, start ups, # of cancer patients cured, religious virtue doesn't matter. Hero in one country may be a war criminal in another. So fuck the opinions that drown out your own inner voice. Bring your own measuring stick, don't need to abide by those of others.

Personal favorite one is having top percentile schlong length. Works on all insecurities. You'll find yours too. Maybe you're wider.

Jun 25, 2022 - 6:43pm
ape2017, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Just want to say. I can associate with you as having similar episode in life trying to 'compare'.

Actively comparing with everyone in the room, why we have similar backgrounds they can achieve this and that, have a great role/ salary, etc.

At the end of the day, it is not about comparing with others, it is more comparing with yourself. It might sounds lame, but similar to what others saying. Sometimes you have a set mission of how it looks like to be successful, but might be success can look different for different individuals.

Just saying for some food for thoughts, cause there is no point pushing yourself to a corner, your well-being is more important than anything to be in the game :).

Jun 26, 2022 - 6:54am
SoraisWind, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Stop comparing. Just don't, its toxic. Focus on what you can do now to get a nice position further down the line. Maybe not tomorrow, but it can be done.

Jun 26, 2022 - 10:28am
Big Banker Brand, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Too long. didn't read that shit

Array

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  • Associate 3 in IB - Gen
Jun 26, 2022 - 11:21am

Take it from someone who got a top degree at a top institution and works at a top EB - it's categorically not the case that the best and brightest end up in banking. 
 

Once you've worked on a shitty mid market PE deal and seen management (often with little or even no formal qualifications - either worked their way up the ranks or lateraled in from some mid tier accounting firm to an FP&A and ultimately CFO role) cash out more equity than your MDs will make over their whole careers, it's quite the reality check.

Jun 29, 2022 - 9:42pm
hamster, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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  • Intern in IB - Gen
Jun 29, 2022 - 10:54pm

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