The idea that a meritocracy exists in academia and corporate America is largely fiction. There is a base level of information required and after that long term success is largely about relationships and resources. THAT is reality. #WakeUpAmerica.
Meritocracies only exists in small business and local local local and even then relationships and resources are key. Failure must be an option for merit to differentiate.
Life is not fair. The sooner you learn to deal with this, the better off you will be.