|Me circa 1993 Full of Hopes and Dreams|
As I approach my 20 year class reunion I reflect on success and achievement, as we all do at some point or another in our lives. What did my young girl self think success was? What were her dreams? Well being a shy and somewhat insecure girl, my aspirations were modest. I just wanted to be able to have a “normal” home, get married, have a decent income, just to fit in with what I perceived as societal norms.
Done, done and done. And yes it made me happy…for a while. As I grew older and looked at what I thought success was it became hollow, not what it appeared to be. I saw so many people breaking their backs at a job they hate just to make ends meet, to have a new car, and a better house…more, more of everything please. This did not suit me at all.
And as it does sometimes, life threw me and my family a curveball. My husband lost his very good job he had had for many years, and our main source of income. We both slipped away into panic, fear, and despair. The economy was in the dumps and it did not look good for us.
But then, we looked at each other, we looked at our children, happy healthy and whole, we looked at our lives and what we had built so far, and how much of our lives were still ahead of us, and we stopped clinging to the hollow “American Dream”. We let go of the fear, and said so what if we have to live in an apartment again? So what if we can’t drive new cars? Our lives are filled with family and friends whom we love and whom love us. We have healthy bodies and healthy children and we can get by.
So it was then we decided we weren't going to kill ourselves dumping our energy into that hollow existence any more. I worked more so my husband could go to school, he loved it! He grew and expanded his mind. He started a small home business with his newfound free time and we had plenty of time to spend with each other and our family. Things were tight, but we did it. He graduated and was never so proud of himself and I was proud of him too, he found a fun and fulfilling job providing us with enough income to get by comfortably, and I took over the business, allowing me to stay home and raise our boys.
My point is this, I think we cling to things, literally “things” and make them far too important. We Make them status symbols, or examples of our “success” but what success really is, is the relationships we build, the energy we send out to the greater masses, a positive attitude toward what life hands us, because even when it seems like a horrible and painful thing, there’s a gift in there to be found.
So when we thought we were being destroyed, we were really being offered a chance to rebuild, in a way WE wanted to. We changed our views of success, and achievement and now live knowing that each precious moment that we are alive, and happy and positive…is a success. Being a successful person is being true to ones self, looking in the mirror every day, or at least most days, and saying “what do I have to be happy for?” and being able to have a good answer, a personal answer, an answer that is all yours. Not a comparison to the neighbors or your brother or anyone else you think has “more”. Yes, it's cliche but it's true, success is "being" happy not "finding" happiness, and that is found inside yourself, no amount of money or things will ever do that for anyone. Yes, it's nice to have nice things but is not a requirement to live a successful life. I hope every single one of you find success.