I woke up this morning and just felt like crying. Nothing in particular prompted this feeling…I think I just get this way when life feels confusing and overwhelming, and that’s how my life feels right now. I have lots of feelings swirling around in my mind – disappointment, excitement, nervousness, happiness, worry, thankfulness, doubt, joy, fear, gratitude, pain – lots of feelings and I think it’s more than I can manage to control at this moment. For a long time, I’ve felt lots of internal pressure about my success, or lack thereof, in life. For me personally, success has taken on a very flawed definition of having a well-paying job in a great career area, being financially stable, being a homeowner, being married, and having children. And though flawed, it’s based on a simple premise…my desire has always been to be more successful than my parents, and so because in my eyes my parents have mastered all of these things over the years, at a minimum, I need to achieve these things in order to be successful. Unfortunately, because I haven’t achieved all of these things yet, there are days when I feel very unaccomplished and very unsuccessful.
There are some that have and would argue that I shouldn’t feel this way or that I put ridiculous amounts of pressure on myself, but I think we all have to be authentic and true to ourselves, and despite how others feel, this is my own “flawed” definition of success. Each of us has our own set of goals and dreams for our lives and they’re birthed out of our personal worlds – our families, our social environments, our physical environments, our friends, our experiences, our mentors, our role models, and the list goes on. Some of us want to model lives after our parents or other family members, while some of us strongly disliked what we witnessed in the lives of these individuals and want to do the exact opposite. Some of us hold onto money because we’ve been dirt poor and possessing money is our definition of success. Others view driving the latest and greatest car as success because in a previous life everything required walking and/or riding public transportation. Some have even viewed graduating from high school as success because no one else in their family had done it. While none of these define success for me, all of these definitions of success are grounded in something meaningful, just as my own definition, the challenge with my definition of success though is that it often causes me to feel like a failure. Do I think great things have happened in my life…absolutely! I’ve had wonderful experiences and opportunities, I’ve faced some tough challenges and survived, yet, more often than not, my definition of success causes me to view myself in a negative light, rather than propel me into a happy place. As a result, I have some days like today where I don’t really desire to be around lots of people and I just feel like crying.
But, I won’t cry for long…in about 15 minutes, I’ll pick my head up and go out to face the world. One thing I’ve learned very well over the years is to wear the mask that grins and smiles…sometimes that mask makes life so much easier.
Until next time…