I've been plagued by a sense of failure lately - one of those things that sometimes contributes to the "blue" that strikes when I don't need it. You see, I know pieces about many things - but I've never excelled in any one of them.

I'm a qualified Food Technologist, but just as I was getting into my stride, had built up a cheese factory from the ground and was churning out a decent product, the entire thing was canned (scuse the food-related pun!) by my employers as a cost-cutting measure. I couldn't find other employment in that area, because it's all shift work and I had a baby to care for. So I changed course.

I was a secretary for years - but never the best one. In truth I hated having to do someone else's work. The typing, the taking of calls, the "please can I send someone through", never allowed to sign my own name to my hard work, but rather having to "pp" it in the boss's name. I got a Personal Assistant diploma - and it was too late. By then I had changed course again.

I've done web design - but merely adequate (it works, loads, looks OK), never spectacular or excellent. I haven't had the time to get the knowledge I'd like to have, and tend to get frustrated when it bombards me too fast to go in, or when I'm interrupted to do other things.

I've got a sideline business in food - but am not pouring my heart into making it awe-inspiring as a potential fulltime job.

I'm a parent (which has to count for something - I've been doing it since I was 21!). Yet many think I'm not doing it right. I often get criticism about how I'm doing it. Perhaps I'm just doing a half-arsed job? My son's not top of his class, sportsman of the year, Mr Popular. Maybe it's my fault.

I haven't excelled in relationships - rather shielding my heart from hurt than giving myself freely. So sometimes I feel alone, but I'm too proud to admit it to anyone. I often assume I'm not worth their time or effort, and don't want to bother anyone.

I play the piano pretty well - by ear. Don't ask me to read music, and don't ask me to play something I've never heard. Don't ask me to follow the way it should be either - my fingers do their own thing by instinct, and it usually works out. But I cannot play with excellence. I don't sit and practice for hours - in fact, it's been months since I've played.

We applied to migrate to Australia nearly 3 years ago. My lack of excellence in any one field (and random experience in many different fields) counted against us - so no visa.

When I run into Excellent people - those who are top of their game, the best they can be, fulfilling all their potential or even just doing a damn fine job of whatever they're up to - well, that's when I feel like a total failure.

Yes, I know it's good to not be so narrow-mindedly focused on one thing that you can't see the big picture. I'm glad I can look at life with broad strokes. But at the same time I find myself wishing there was one thing I was really good at. Something I could do better than anyone else, that I could take pride in and know I've reached the top.

Instead I too often feel like a failure. Mediocre, shallow, one of the herd.


Look - I'll be OK. It's just that I've hit a bit of a speedbump, a fork in the road. I'm re-evaluating everything I know, every plan I have, who I am, and trying to figure out where to from here. Along with that comes this backward looking, this comparing to others. I just have to learn to let it teach me and help me decide which way is forward. Mid-life crisis? Only if I'm going to live until 70... :)