How do you measure how successful someone is? I think I grew up measuring my success in the same way that many people do.
If I was doing well in school, got along with others, good family relationships, then it progressed as I got closer to college. There was more pressure, to get into college, get a scholarship so I could afford college, and once I was in college back to grades, participate in clubs, leadership roles, etc. The closer I got to graduating from college even more pressure built up, to find a job, to find a place to live, to make enough money to live and pay bills. The pressure or stress I put on myself to achieve a certain amount of “success” was the driving force, not really happiness.
Now I went into education to be a teacher so more than a lot of people, I did choose a career path that I thought would make me happy. I chose a profession I truly enjoyed, I loved. I made it! Success, right? Nope. Then I got my first teaching job, now in the education profession especially you feel like no matter how hard you work and how many hours you put you are never good enough, never successful. This sentiment seems to come from everywhere. From parents, administration, students, fucking politicians, dept. of education…. you are never good enough. Let alone the endless pity from coworkers and family members because I wasn’t married yet. God forbid you are a single female teacher, don’t worry you’ll find someone. Everyone is concerned, God bless it.
This is the point in my life when I started to question what success really means to me. I had done everything right, stayed inside the lines, followed the rules for the most part and I was/am a wonderful teacher. But I was stressed to the max and I didn’t feel how I thought a successful person should feel. Dealing with the stress of teaching all day and coming home and figuring out how to stretch my paychecks and pay everything that needed to be paid. I had been single for awhile and then had been a relationship that didn’t workout. And at that point I had to stop and really evaluate myself.
I had a meaningful career that I was good at, I was single, I had my own car, paid my own bills, had great friends and family. And then I stopped looking at all the things and looked at myself. I am a good person, really fucking funny, smart, creative, caring, not too bad on the eyes. There were so many things about life that I enjoyed, reading, dancing, time with friends and family, cooking, singing, listening to music, laughing. I really had a lot going for myself, I had a good life.
When I stopped worrying about how society defines success; which is always just out of your grasp, and started looking at how fulfilled I was and how happy I was with myself. When I took a step back and looked at the life I made for myself, that along with some serious shift in mindset thanks to my new yoga practice that followed, I started seeing things differently.
I never wanted to be rich or famous, or run my own business or boss people around. I’ve always wanted to make a difference, help people, be there for the people I love. When I looked at my life on my terms I was succeeding at everything that meant something to my soul. I’ve never cared about expensive cars, or jewelry or all the “stuff” it has never been who I am. But at some point I started judging myself from someone else’s version of success, that wasn’t me.
Different things make different people happy. Jobs, trips, food, exercise, family, money, etc. Everyone is different and that’s the beauty of people. What makes one person tic might be meaningless to someone else. The problem is that we try to fit everyone into one mold and sell them the same dream. A lot of times that dream isn’t for everyone and before we know it, we’ve bought into it and are pursuing it and miserable because it isn’t the dream that we had for ourselves. It’s the dream we think we should have and have been told we should have.
Everyone’s version of success is different. We need to break out of this one size fits all “American Dream” bullshit and accept that not everyone wants and needs the same things. Support people that follow their hearts and passions as much as we do those that are following the money. People are able to live much more happy and meaningful lives when they are true to themselves, not living for the world.
(P.S. my AP Lit. teacher told me I was the queen of run-on sentences, I don’t think I ever broke the habit. lol I hope you get more from this than just run on sentences!)