Throughout our lives we strive to become a successful member of society more often than not, we fail. But is there or can there be a true definition of success?
Whenever friends asked me why I hated Facebook (I still do), I often said it was because it made me anxious, seeing everyone’s shiny lives, made me feel like an absolute failure, it made me think about my decisions in life and reflect on how they were wrong, how time was wasted and how all could have been improved. This kind of mentality made me feel defeated before I even started, seeing how much better people were doing made me feel like I could never achieve those goals.
Even though I regretted my actions I thought nothing could be done to get there. I’ve already lost, “they” won the life challenge I will just wither away eventually becoming the crazy cat lady, or just crazy lady (taking care of animals is too much work), and that’s that.
However, as I grow older, I’ve come to realize that the problem was not Facebook, not in this case anyway, the problem wasn’t my friends and acquaintances being so much better off (in my opinion), it wasn’t them, it was me, and as cliché as that might sound, it was and is true. I conditioned myself to associate success and happiness with a set of specific goals, everything deviating from that was a failure. And if those goals seemed out of reach, why even try, after all of the work, I will just suffer when I fail, so let’s just suffer now and forget about it.
I didn’t feel anxious because a friend got married, or had a baby, I felt envious when a friend got a great job and was able to travel around the world. That was being successful for me, being financially independent and able to do whatever you wanted with that money, having children seemed like the direct opposite of that goal.
I was quite shallow and insecure, I was certain that success was my idea of it, it couldn’t be different or flexible, it’s all or nothing, so I chose nothing. This mentality hurt me greatly, I refused opportunities that might have helped me grow as a person, and as a professional, I accepted and encouraged myself to give up on my goals and just get by.
In hindsight, no one ever harmed me more than I harm myself. I was wrong, I created a narrow vision of success, I built the walls that stopped me from developing skills, acquiring knowledge, and developing relationships. Intellectualization is a real deal, our brains try to convince us about the rationality of our thinking, how you will be hurt, you shouldn’t try, etc. and the brain is very persuasive it knows exactly how to manipulate, it exploits our weaknesses.
To everyone punishing themselves, a piece of advice, don’t mix happiness and success together, one doesn’t necessarily mean to achieve the other, question what success means to you, are your goals and dreams really your own, or are you living for someone else’s idea of perfection, consider if your goals are feasible, consider not achieving your idea of success, are there any positive aspects to your life now, that you could consider as wins? And most importantly, cut yourself some slack, not too much though, with caution, allow yourself to be happy in failure and critical in success.