In March of this year, I closed down my hotel. After running at a loss for over three years, I couldn't sustain it any longer. I sold my house and took on two jobs to cover the rent and provide basic wages for my employees. But it felt like a black hole that could never be filled. On the day of closure, I felt oddly calm.
I settled the final wages for my staff, bid farewell to the last person, took one last photo of the hotel, and thought about sharing it on social media. However, I decided against it. After all, over the years, I had grown distant from my friends.
The property management came, disconnected the power, and locked the doors. I stood across the street, reminiscing about the day I first arrived here, standing in the same spot, gazing at it. Only back then, I was full of ambition.
That day, I pushed my father in his wheelchair and said to him, "Look, I acquired this place. It's the kind of shop you always wanted to own. I'm wealthy now, and it will make me even more money in the future. So don't worry, I'll surely cure your illness." Unfortunately, I couldn't keep my promise. I didn't cure his illness. Despite my best efforts, I could only sustain his life for two more months. I didn't make big profits either. Not only did I fail to make money, but I also lost the house he left me.
I still remember the grand opening day when the hotel was bustling with friends coming from all directions to celebrate. Initially, the hotel had no popularity, but with careful maintenance, it gradually improved, and signs of profitability emerged. Everything was heading in a positive direction.
Unfortunately, in 2019, the pandemic struck. For the hotel industry, the pandemic was a devastating blow. For a long time, there wasn't a single guest in the hotel. I stayed in the empty establishment, constantly trying to figure out ways to make up for the losses. The scariest part was not knowing when the darkness would fade away.
In these past years, I haven't confided in any of my friends about my difficulties. Adult friendships are delicate. No matter how good a friend is, when you start to share your hardships, they immediately become wary, thinking you're asking for money. Some people may genuinely care, but others may become afraid.
Friendship is precious; don't test it. I reduced contact with my friends as well. Every time we met, they would inevitably ask, "How have you been? How's the hotel?" What else could I say? It was difficult to tell the truth, and it was equally challenging to put on a brave face. Distance was the only option.
For someone whose situation kept deteriorating, not bothering others was my last act of kindness. I vanished from my friends' view. At some point, I anonymously shared my hotel's story on a platform, treating it as a confessional. Since it was anonymous, I had no inhibitions. Unexpectedly, the article went viral.
A group of online users rallied behind me, offering encouragement, sharing their own experiences, asking how they could help, and even inquiring about the location of my hotel to come and stay. Seeing those comments surprised, astonished, and deeply moved me. It even brought tears to my eyes, which I hadn't experienced in years.
I would tell those unfamiliar online friends who once cared about me, "I'm sorry, but I had to close down." As for my friends in real life, I didn't mention a word about it. After closing the doors, I didn't feel as devastated as I had anticipated. Instead, there was a sense of relief from bidding farewell
to the pain.
No longer did I have to live in constant worry, calculating every detail. I didn't have to oscillate between hope, disappointment, and despair. I no longer had to anxiously wait for small orders, hoping for a slight boost to keep going. However, sleep still eluded me at night. I reflected on my journey from being ambitious and full of confidence to feeling utterly burnt out. I felt disappointed in myself, believing I was a complete loser.
I admire those who can rise from the ashes, experiencing great falls and making comebacks. A single failure is enough to shatter my determination. Even after the hotel closure, I remained in a state of invisibility. I believed that no one would welcome someone useless like me. Failure can turn a social cow into a social phobic.
A few days ago, while on business at my alma mater, I unexpectedly encountered my former mentor. I felt a bit awkward meeting her, but she noticed me. She asked me to attend her public lecture and even insisted I say a few words to the junior students. In my mind, those who can "say a few words" at their alma mater must have achieved something. I naturally refused, but she dragged me along anyway.
Standing on the stage with over a hundred pairs of eyes fixed on me, it felt like I had returned to the time when I used to be a teacher. After giving it some thought, I directly told everyone that I might disappoint them because I was currently at the lowest point in my life and considered myself a loser. The eyes below stared at me with curiosity, seemingly even more interested.
So, I shared my past stories—the ones that were somewhat glorious, the ones that were mediocre, the surprising ones, and the ones in which I hit rock bottom. From working diligently with hope, only to be disappointed and eventually doubting myself. Admitting one's failure is difficult, but even more challenging is living with it.
While I spoke, the audience below was silent, completely focused and attentive. It seemed they had listened to countless successful individuals and, for the first time, encountered someone who openly shared their failures with such dedication.
In the end, I said, "Life always holds infinite possibilities. What you think is stable, challenging, hopeful, or desperate can all change unexpectedly. So, go ahead and pursue your dreams! After all, the worst-case scenario is ending up like me!"
The thunderous applause and laughter erupted from the audience and persisted for a long time. Suddenly, I realized that I wasn't completely worthless after all.