Do most people, even the "lazy ones" in high school grow up to successful?

I’m not judgmental so I don’t call an under-performing student “lazy” as I don’t know what’s going on in their life but this is what teachers and parents say. Looking at my former secondary school classmates on Facebook they all seem to be doing okay. From the “messers” as teachers to the “high achievers”. They have their group of friends that they go out with and all have various part time jobs. Some are doing that aside college but some are trying to follow an unconventional path.
It seems incongrous as my dad always emphasized that I’d be poor, homeless and not be able to afford basics if I didn’t do well in school (always brought this up when I saw a homeless person). However, now I’m doing probably worse than all my classmates as I failed HS and do to a lack of work experience, can’t get even the lowest minimum wage job. Is this an anomaly?

If your definition of ‘successful’ is getting a part time job at some point, then yes, most people achieve that, even those who fail everything at school. Some go right into a decent career path, some spend a few years getting themselves sorted out but sooner or later start being truly self supporting, some will be still getting the odd shift here and there, but mainly getting supported by parents or government benefits for years. Some bounce between doing well and terribly, though frequently addiction is a factor there.

I’ve certainly known people who spent years being what would be declared ‘A failure’ by many people; down to living in squats or cars on the street, surviving by busking or working off the books and dumpster diving for food for a couple of years, maybe drinking most of the money they did get, then decided they were bored of that (or, in one or two cases, had a baby), applied themselves to one thing and within a couple of years they were in a position almost anyone would declare to be successful.

Hell, a few years ago, after losing my job due to illness, I was living on benefits and barely scraping the money together to eat. I eventually got a 0 hours contract job where the only real requirement was the ability to fog a mirror, and off that got into full time work til I’d saved up a bit. I’m not going to say I’m in an amazing position right now but I’m in Uni in my 30s, studying a course that hopefully should lead to decent prospects, have a couple of part time jobs on the side so I can afford to live in my own flat, with my own car, and life is looking pretty good.

From the sound of it, you’re only recently out of school yourself. Bit early to declare your classmates a failure or success.

Not answering your question, but…
You have applied for many jobs, and no one will hire you ?

It depends on your definition of successful. If you mean CEO of their own start-up global corporation, then no. If you mean able to reliably feed themselves, then yes.

I think family support makes a huge difference. A lazy kid from a generous, well-connected family can fall into lots of opportunities without doing a damn thing. And they can fuck up multiple times without facing harsh consequences.

Also, people can have hidden gifts, talents, and competencies. Work ethic matters little if it doesn’t produce something useful. A lot of kids who get written off as lazy losers are only guilty of being overly pragmatic. Why do homework when I can pass the class without doing do it and instead focus my energies on something more fun and constructive? A person with this mindset isn’t lazy. They just don’t like wasting time on stuff that feels pointless to them.

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As others have said, it all depends on how low a bar you’re setting as your definition of success. Maybe you and your dad have different definitions.

I would consider the bare minimum of success, is to be able to support yourself: food, clothing shelter.

I am a lazy person with talents and a high IQ. I had no desire to be super-rich or considered super-successful. I have almost always supported myself with several low paying jobs, earning enough to get by. I have no desire for more, living alone and taking care of myself, even when I had a severely broken wrist and could not work for year, then took two years to get permanent full time work.

Success means different things to different people.

There is a subtext to the question you are explicitly asking. Have you thought about trying to go back and finish high school, or get a GED? Or how about a vocational school? Your job options are severely limited if you haven’t at least finished secondary school, as you have found. However, unemployment is so low right now, there may be more to the story than what you described if you are having trouble even getting a minimum wage job.

It depends on your definition of successful and just which school you are talking about in my case. The small rural school I grew up in, most of us did what we would call fairly well. The high school I was in mostly, not so much so.

Few of my classmates have done better financially than their parents; far fewer yet can afford to retire (we’re all early 60s) and are working one manner of job or another ------ or several part-time all at once. Not because they want to work but because they have no choice. We do have a couple doctors but we have more than a dozen who died really young (within 4 years of graduation) in not-good-fashion ------ drug abuse, physical abuse, things like that. The only odd thing is that as many slackers and morons have done well as the star pupils; how you did in school doesn’t seem to have a direct correlation to today. Most of us are average to slightly below average across society but call the top 5 divided 2-3 between brains and dolts.

(450 person class - mid 70s)

Facebook is notorious for people creating a polished social image where they are happy, well adjusted, financially secure and in loving and fulfilling relationships. Its all a dog and pony show, I wouldn’t take it too seriously.

Keep in mind roughly 60% of Americans don’t have $500 in savings to cover an emergency. They can’t all be doing great.

I think things are definitely harder now than they used to be, I have plenty of friends with college degrees that have suffered with finding a good job, and also paying back huge student loan sums. I feel too that with certain degrees the program directors will if not directly lie to you, be disingenuous about your future job prospects. I think a lot of drive, motivation, and work ethic can overcome a lot though, but obviously some stuff comes down to luck. The OP should get their GED and maybe join a labor union or something and learn a trade.

My father worked as a lineman, went to night school and got a college degree and worked in the business field for 12 years or so and was very successful, then he had some personal issues and stopped showing up for work, reputation was ruined, lost everything and went completely broke. It prob took him another ten years of backbreaking labor to get where he is today, but hes got a whole pile of money in the bank, a house with a low mortgage, paid off vehicles and he will have a nice retirement, he was lucky that he had a trade to fall back on, and that is what kept him from winding up in the streets.

Also keep in mind that a lot young adults are able to create an illusion of success because parents are paying some or all of their bills.

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Define “success”.

I am certain I am a disappointment to some people who wanted me to go into a high pressure career. You would think that, after I went to art school and married a guy who played bagpipes for a living people would get a clue that maybe money wasn’t my first priority in life.

Aside from a few years during the Great Recession I’ve managed to shelter, feed, and cloth not only my myself but some years also my spouse, so from that perspective I’m successful (and at present have climbed out of poverty into the lower part of the middle class, so I’m clawing my way up the socio-economic ladder again).

If you measure solely by money I’m a failure. If you measure by interesting experiences I’m a success.

What’s your criteria?

Geography is a big factor. I’m from West Virginia, and my high school reunions always make me realize how much worse off I’d likely be if I hadn’t relocated to the Baltimore/Washington area.

If there aren’t any jobs around, even talented, industrious people will have limited career prospects. This perpetuates a sad vicious cycle: most people capable of getting out of depressed regions will do so, lowering the chances of things improving.

And I agree with pool’s statement above that it’s harder to succeed now than it used to be. When I graduated from high school forty years ago, average people generally could get stable, middle-class jobs if they wanted them. Kids today have to excel to achieve that.

Put me in with the “success is whatever the individual wants it to be.” According to my mother, her kids were successful because they all had jobs and were not in jail. I attended an Ivy League school and went on to get an MA from a high-profile university. I never made a buck from either degree. I chose to do what I wanted to do (i.e., work as little as possible and devote as much time to friends, family, and myself as I could) and I’m OK financially.

Now, I went to a HS reunion recently and learned that one of my friends, who barely graduated from HS, has just retired. He went to work as a security guard for a cigarette manufacturing company and worked in the security department at a fairly low level his entire career. Nonetheless, he has a nice house, great retirement benefits, and even owns a private plane and a decent boat. He ate bag lunches, kept his nose clean, took the pension plan seriously, and stayed the course. Definitely a success.

That can be changed by someone with a Bright Idea, though.

My great-grandfather was born in one of the poorest parts of Spain. “Potatoes for breakfast, potatoes for lunch and potatoes for dinner, and on Sunday there was chorizo in the potatoes and it was for Father.” He got out as soon as he saw a solid way to do it, as did so many others for generations untold.

Now that same area has the low population density it’s had since forever but they’re making a very nice living with their pork-drying facilities. The same dry weather that makes getting decent crops almost impossible means it’s a great area to prepare serrano and dry sausages.

In Spain that’s led to changing the definition of “success”: remove “stable”. Continuous employment under different employers, or discontinuous employment which pays enough to support you while unemployed, have gone from being considered “the dregs” to “not ideal but normal”. Se puede estar en el paro, lo que no se puede estar es parado: you can be unemployed, what you cannot do is be doing nothing (en el paro means unemployed; parado means both unemployed and doing nothing).

I live in Western Europe (I’m not saying that’s why I have trouble getting jobs) but here the minimum wage in the UK/Ireland in jobs is generally €8-10. Seeing as it’s a smaller economy and as well as me having no relevant experience, I am low in the priorities; I went to a job that required no experience and saw a guy who applied in the same position as me have his CV cancelled and thrown in the bin (though the interviewee was oblivious to me seeing this) despite what they said. They looked for experience and 2 references.

I’m probably going to have to move out in Oct as they say, they are planning on going back to their homeland and aren’t really interested in staying in Europe. I’ll have to think of something quick as I have zero friends or classmates willing to take me in.

In regards to my HS exams, I technically have a completed certificate but got a fail (F) in six subjects but a (D) in one.

Apply for more jobs. Bars. Fast food places.

I also live in the UK; if you want a job, and you’re really not picky, get an SIA licence (it’s a few £100, but you may be able to get it funded). I’d been out of work for 2 years no experience whatsoever, applied to two companies on the day my licence was granted, and had two job offers before the end of the day.

You’re clearly literate, you’re probably human, you’d be in. I’m not kidding.

It’s a crap job in the main, but the pay can be OK, if you can tolerate working late/night shifts. What it mostly is is a start. A foot on the bottom rung.