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The Power of Failure & The Definition of Self-Made

I  needed a week or so to form my thoughts on the Kylie Jenner Forbes Magazine debacle, so I could come to a conclusion of what it means to be “self-made,” and I think I have an answer.

For those of you that don’t know what I am referring to, to sum up, Jenner was on the cover of Forbes Magazine as the youngest self-made billionaire with her lip kit make-up line which is worth a billion dollars, and people began to debate, is she self-made? And, what is the definition of self-made?

She allegedly dropped 250,000 dollars to get her business up and running, which apparently she made from modeling and other sponsorships so she yearned that money or made that money on her own but, she was able to have those opportunities through her family name.  Or, I should say family businesses so, what constitutes self-made?

I had a friend in college that came from a wealthy family who was hell bent on making it on her own.  She graduated top of her class, went on to get an MBA from a prestigious university, and started her own business.  After a year of struggling to get it off the ground, she continued to fail.  Then her parent died and someone had to take over the family business, so she did. She inherited a lot of money practically over night, and was put in a position to run a multi-million dollar company. And she did. But she gave up on her business to go run the family business, so does that make her a quitter? Not really, but similar to Jenner, it is murky. She was given a huge opportunity but she yearned the business degree to be able to step into the family shoes to take care of the business so, that’s a form of self-made. Plus, she learned from the failures she experienced early on in her career to be able to build the stamina and strength that it takes to run a company.

People say success is when opportunity meets luck. Self-made success is opportunity, meets luck, meets a bunch of failure.  When you fail, you win. When you quit, you lose. When you have too much pride to take advantage of opportunities, you also lose.

I am one of these people. I have suffered from pride my entire life, yet, I get angry when I see other members of my family jump on opportunities available to them due to being in a privileged position. So now I am in a place where I regret not being more vocal or aggressive with maximizing opportunities available to me. I’m not sure where it started. I got a lot of slack from a lot of people early on for not having to take out student loans cause my family paid for my education. It made me feel uncomfortable, and somewhat guilty, and, as a result, it fueled this need to prove that I can make it on my own. That’s not a bad thing but, like I said, I missed out on opportunities that could have put me in a better position in life. Looking back, I wish I had more balance in working toward being self-made and utilizing opportunities, but, on the flip side, I have failed a lot on my journey. And, without those failures, I wouldn’t be able to put out any books. I wouldn’t have had other opportunities that came about due to my chronic failures. I wouldn’t have been able to build the strength needed to handle failure. Without failure, you’re not doomed, but I believe you become a more whole person.

There is a lot of power in failure. You fail and fail and fail but you keep on going. That is the definition of self-made. No matter where you came from, or what opportunities you have been given in life, if you are able to get up, dust yourself off, learn from your mistakes, and keep it moving, you are a success. Unfortunately, the word failure in and of itself connotes sadness, disappointment, and negativity but it’s not. Failure is actually a powerful source of success. Losers quit, winners fail. It’s really that simple.

So, to answer the question, do I think Jenner is self-made? Ah…. no. She might have had mishaps along the way but, I never saw any failure on her reality show. I only saw opportunity mixed in with luck. So, you can claim to be a success, fine, but “self-made” is a stretch!

Photo by *Deepjoy

The Power of Failure & The Definition of Self-Made

Erica Loberg

Erica Loberg was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. She attended Columbia University in New York and graduated with a BA in English. She is a published poet and author of Inside the Insane, Screaming at the Void, What Men Should Know About Women, What Women Should Know About Men, Diamonds From The Rough and Undressed.

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APA Reference
Loberg, E. (2018). The Power of Failure & The Definition of Self-Made. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 22, 2019, from


Last updated: 22 Jul 2018
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