But I don't think that life is really out to punish and destroy us just for misunderstanding what's going on and how to deal with it properly. If you're willing to put in your part as often as you are able and can forgive yourself when you don't step up to the plate in as big a way as you want to, then I believe and have experienced that life will work to help you get back to being a producing participant in the grand scheme of it all. There's enough for us to get what we truly need and there is fundamental intelligence shared by all of Nature that keeps the wheel turning.
You might find yourself in a pretty bad spot but if you're willing to listen to the part of you that is wise then you'll be able to find resources, ideas, people, and opportunities that will move you towards the destiny meant for you and your unique attributes, skills, and desires.
So take heart if you're willing to and let yourself be lead to the life of your own happiness and purpose. You may not have a life that looks like what you initially imagined as a younger person but it will be satisfying and fulfilling to you at a deeper level of your being.
And if you think you need to give up, that's okay too. Giving up on one path can open doors to another. Keep applying yourself and the universe will reward your efforts.