Too Stupid to Fail and Why You Should Never Give Up

My thoughts on how I overcame two suicide attempts and got to where I am now.

I took Tae Kwon Do classes when I was a kid. In every class, our teacher made us recite 5 rules. I don’t remember all of them but I do remember the last 3 were integrity, perseverance, and an indomitable spirit.

I never understood what perseverance meant and why it was so important.

When we look at successful people like Elon Musk or star athletes like Serena Williams, most of us tend to attribute their success to talent. I believe the idea that a huge factor of success is something that you’re born with, like genius or talent, does a great disservice for many, because it is not true.

What you don’t know about Elon Musk is that he got on a plane in South Africa and landed in Canada with almost nothing except a phone number. He worked crazy jobs to pay for college, transferred to UPenn, and then paid for college by throwing crazy parties with his roommate Adeo Ressi. Elon’s brother, Kimbal Musk, started his first business by buying a painting business-in-a-box kit. Kimbal and Elon moved to California together.

Elon is famous for saying, I calculated how much it would cost for me to survive in America. He calculated that he could survive off hot dogs for a little over a dollar a day. Kimbal and Elon started their first startup together and only had enough for a tiny apartment that they lived in and worked out of. If Elon was asleep on the floor by his desk when his first employee came in in the morning- they knew to wake him up. His employees remember that Elon would usually be working as soon as they got into the office, and he would still be working when they left. Elon eventually sold his first startup and became a millionaire. That’s just the beginning of his story.

Serena Williams is the best tennis player in history. She did not get that title with talent- she got it with her insane work ethic.

There are many talented people in the world. However, talent doesn’t mean shit if you don’t work on it every day.

The successful people today, who made their own success, got there because they never gave up.

When they lost a tennis match or a big deal, when things weren’t going their way, when it felt like their life was going to be shattered- people like Elon or Serena Williams don’t give up. And if they do give up, if they are shattered, they get back up, and get at it again. Even more scary is that when people like Elon or Serena are faced with a challenge- they tackle it with a monstrous ferocity that should scare most people shitless.

I am not Elon Musk or Serena Williams. I do not come close.

I wouldn’t say that I’m successful yet.

However, even though I’m not 25 yet, I feel like I’ve overcome a lot of challenges in my life.

I’ve survived two suicide attempts in my life and over a decade worth of mental health issues. I’ve survived a tiny person’s lifetime of child abuse. I’ve survived a few sexual assaults. I’ve survived a toxic romantic relationship.

I have been diagnosed with clinical depression, manic depression or bipolar disorder, and borderline personality disorder. I took an incredible amount of drugs for my mental health starting from high school, including Lexapro, Celexa, Seroquel, Prozac, and a lot more for years.

For the first half of my life, I was a golden child on the way to the ivory towers of Ivy League universities. I had a 97 GPA in one of the most competitive schools in New York City with a class size of 800 kids per grade, where the average GPA was a 90. I was on the policy debate team, school newspaper, lacrosse team, and started a social entrepreneurship club to change the world. I started failing and never recovered.

I flunked out of Stuyvesant High School. I almost flunked out of Flushing High School. I never finished my application for Stony Brook University, so when I got in, it was a miracle. I flunked out once a year in college including my final year, and had to take a fifth year of school until I could graduate. Funny story is that Stony Brook accidentally sent me my diploma before I completed my requirements and I returned it. For a long time of my life, I felt hopeless.

I am grateful that after my second suicide attempt after I graduated from college, that a psychiatrist, Dr. Kali, took the time to sit me down and give me an assessment that lasted over 2 hours. No mental health professional had done this for me before. Dr. Kali’s diagnosis was borderline personality disorder. I had thought I had bipolar for over 5 years and had been taking medication for it. Medication is not the best treatment option borderline. The best treatment for borderline is something called dialectical behavioral therapy- not drugs.

For years of my life, I was taking drugs that were literally ruining my life. I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if I didn’t take Seroquel. One experimental drug gave me panic attacks if I missed or was late on a dosage. For months on end, I was scared shitless that I would have a panic attack and when I confronted my psychiatrist about it, he prescribed me medication for the panic attacks instead of taking me off it.

What does a panic attack feel like? Think of the scariest moment in your entire life. A panic attack is that feeling in a 60-second loop for what feels like hours. It feels like you’re trapped in your body, you can’t escape, pure fear is screaming inside your skull, and you can’t make it stop. You have no control. Now imagine what it might feel like if you were scared that might happen at any time of your day- for months on end. Imagine what it might feel like to know that you had absolutely no control over your own mind.

I’ve had so many failures in my life. There were periods of my life where I believed death would be a blessing. There were so many times where I would try to drown myself in the bath. Where I would cry myself to sleep every night. There were periods where I spent months on end sleeping, barely eating, staring at the ceiling, not able to feel anything, just numb.

If you were to look at me today, you probably would have never guessed that. Today I wake up at 5am and finish most of my work before noon. Today I smile, run my own business, and lead a team. People come up to me and tell me how much they appreciate my work, how I’ve helped them, or how much I inspire them.

I just came back from a crazy trip where I spent over two weeks in Europe with someone I had just met and now we’re moving in together. It is crazy, but what I do know, is that I’ve gotten a lot better at choosing partners, and this person is the best person I’ve ever met in my life. When I’m with him, I’ve never been happier. He makes me want to dream bigger and achieve the biggest goals.

My business is on track to do 6 figures this year and I’m aiming to do 6 figures a month before the end of the year.

How did I go from suicidal to a 24-year-old gunning for a 7-figure business?

I was too stupid to fail.

I never stopped believing that things could be better.

And when I did, like when I tried to kill myself, I failed.

I got the help from incredible people that literally saved my life and helped pick me back up again.

I learned how to put myself back together again and that the only person that could do that job was me.

I also learned that it was okay to be kind to myself and to accept the help of others, and even more importantly, to ask for help.

They say that people with borderline personality disorder are monsters. In fact, most people would believe that anyone with any type of mental disorder could be a monster. In fact, I have to admit that if you’re not getting the proper treatment for your mental health issues, you can be a monster.

When I was struggling with mental health issues, I thought my diagnosis with a mental health illness was a lifetime sentence for failure. I wish I had known that Tim Ferriss also had a diagnosis for bipolar disorder and that he had gone through the things that I had also encountered- and look where he is now.

I am incredibly grateful to Tim Ferriss. He has been a massive influence in my life from when I picked up the 5 Hour Work Week, to how he introduced me to Jocko Willink and his 4:30 club, and how I have adopted Ferriss’ morning ritual including his morning pages.

This post has not been as structured as I wished, but I wanted to pound home that you should never give up on yourself- and even if you do, you can rebuild yourself at any moment.

The key to success is discipline. You can start small from making your bed every day in the morning. To waking up a little earlier. To implementing a morning routine.

There were times in my life, where all of the above was a challenge. There were times in my life, where getting out of bed was a challenge.

But if I was able to do it, so can you.

I hope that this inspires you to go after your dreams.

I hope that if anyone who’s suffering from mental health issues sees this, that it’ll give them hope to know that things can be better with a shit ton of hard work.

Whether you’re battling mental health issues or not, you have a responsibility to yourself to live the best possible life you desire. You don’t become successful overnight. Success doesn’t even last if you don’t work for it every day.

If you feel sad and unsatisfied, I hope that you are able to take it upon yourself, to truly investigate why. Do you feel like a failure? Why? Are you unhappy with your current career or position? Why? Do you feel undervalued at your company? Why?

Ask yourself the tough questions. Ask yourself, why you’re not happy right now and if you are okay with that. If you are okay with your dissatisfaction or your unhappiness, that is fine. Most people live their lives in quiet desperation.

If you are not okay with your unhappiness then do something about it. You won’t get there right away. You will fail many times. You will probably be crushed multiple times.

You might even hit “rock bottom” a couple times. But I just want to remind you- there’s nothing lower than rock bottom. I’m a professional, I know.

And even if you hit “rock bottom”, the intangible growth that your mind has experienced and learned, from hitting that “rock bottom”… it’s not the same rock bottom you’re hitting.

Do Tim Ferriss’ fear-setting exercise.

What is the worst that could possibly happen if you take this risk that you’ve always wanted to? What would be your life like if you didn’t take the risk for a year, 5, or 10?

We don’t have much time in this life. But we have more than enough time to achieve whatever we want to. Unless it’s world domination, in which case, I hope you fail.

But if there’s anything you take out of this post- I hope it’s the idea that successful people get where they are- by doing a shit ton of disciplined work.

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