Live the first 18 years of your life rather innocuously. Get bullied in high school. Develop an eating disorder. Be too sacred to overachieve at things you actually enjoy, like drama, because you’re too obsessed with your feeble attempts to fit in with the ‘cool’ kids. Never fit in with the ‘cool’ kids, even though you get really skinny and dye your hair like Christina’s in “Come On Over.” Accidentally excel at academia anyway and get into some prestigious course at university.
Do your prestigious course half-heartedly. Meet a boy half way through and decide to defer your studies so you can go and live with him in the far-away location he comes from. Be miserable as a piece of furniture in someone else’s life, but persist because you’re in love. In fact, continue to always persist with relationships when you’re unhappy because you believe in love. Believing in love and doing ridiculously grand things “in the name of love” is the best way to fail at life.
Go home and finish your prestigious university degree. Start working in your prestigious field but find it miserable despite the sweet pay check. Quit. This is also a good habit to get into if you want to fail at life—just quit everything that you sort of don’t really like that much. It will often leave you penniless and with a sinking sense of dread in the pit of your stomach.
Use the money you saved working in your prestigious job so that you could buy a house to go white water rafting in Slovenia instead. This is the third most important characteristic to develop in order to fail at life—pissing money onto a wall. Say things like “You can’t put a dollar value on these experiences,” even though you’re not some hippie chump and you realize full well that there is a very prominent dollar value on all your “experiences.” Pretend that you’re going to settle down somewhere and get a job, but spend another two months travelling around Europe some more, lighting all your hard earned cash on fire.
If you want to fail at life, you have to make many spontaneous decisions that rationally make little to no sense. For instance, with dwindling savings, decide to move somewhere to “chase your dreams,” which should involve some kind of artistic endeavour. New York, LA, London, Sydney, Copenhagen, Paris and Japan are all good starting points because they’re probably the most expensive places a struggling artist could go.
Struggle as an artist. Live in rooms with no windows and forget what the outside world looks like. Quit struggling as an artist for a while (quit your shitty bar job too because you hate it) to binge on drugs and party all the time. Get home in the morning and wake up in the evening, be dissatisfied and listen to Bruce Springsteen a lot. Realize you’re failing. Instead of doing something sensible, go traveling again.
Sleep with your best friend. Who is also best friends with your ex. Sleep with someone your friend likes. Sleep with a guy you met once before and give him your heart even though you’ve only known him two weeks. Be reckless in love, yet again. Pursue the unattainable. Fall for people in different countries. Be sentimental and poetic. Eventually take your broke ass and chipped heart back to the city where you hope to find your dreams and try to settle into life.
Drink too much. Quit another lame bar job. Ruin good things by sending unsolicited, drunk text messages after midnight. If there’s any way to undo a lot of hard work and good progress it’s with a drunken text message. Never learn your lesson about this, even though you are now in your late twenties. Start thinking about getting a tattoo because it’s too late to go back to professional life and isn’t that what struggling artists do anyway?
The key is to repeat. Keep making spontaneous decisions. Take a match to what little money you have. Treat love as a wild adventure and throw yourself into it every time. Smash against words late at night when you’re drunk and lonely and armed with nothing but a mobile phone. Make a million and one mistakes and just keep making them over and over and over again because failing at life is all in the repetition.
Look at your mistakes like battle scars and love each one dearly—failing at life is also about adoring your failures because they are etching you out as some sort of person. And even if you’re not entirely sure who that giant failure of a person might be, you’re pretty sure you like them, and besides, it’s been a whole lot of fun becoming them, which is the most perfect way to fail.