For awhile I’ve felt that I don’t resonate with the typical definition of success. It doesn’t make my heart feel anything when I hear it described. In fact, some of the material excess described makes me feel uneasy when I hear people fantasize about it.
I don’t need to be rich.
From a young age I’ve always been able to distinguish a need from a want. I know that when it comes down to it, we need very little to survive and even to thrive. I also understand that our material desires stem from an emotional lack somewhere, and I have the foresight to know that a new handbag will only be a temporary fix at best.
Anyway, I bring this up because I was reading an article in my Medium Daily Digest called “5 Things I Had to Give Up to be Successful“. The first thing the writer says he gave up is Other people’s definition of success.
He talks about the standard agreed-upon version of success that society has, which is especially propagated during college. But “by this definition, I was a complete failure.” And boy can I relate to that.
He goes on to say,
“At some point, I realized that I had to give up other people’s definition of success. This is one of the most difficult things to give up because it is so deeply embedded in our cultural narratives that it becomes the standard by which we measure our lives.”
This issue of defining your self-worth by how “successful” you are plagued my 20’s. And really, it wasn’t until I sold out and “got a real job” that I finally felt the shame dissipate. But I wasn’t happy. Isn’t it possible to live a life filled with an abundance of happiness and also a complete lack of shame? Cause that’s what I’m looking for.
I also totally resonated with his point that “Even as entrepreneurs we have collectively agreed that fame and fortune are the markers of success,” because I know I’ve felt shame when comparing myself to my other freelancer friends who are out there hustling in their own way.
So what do I actually want?
The answer to this could easily be 100 more blog posts, but in short: I want enough money to live the same frugal and minimal lifestyle I live now, with enough extra that if I wanted to splurge, I could. I want enough extra money that I can invest for retirement. And I want enough extra money so I can travel. But that’s it.
And aside from money, what do I want? I want a family. I want to get married and have children and I want to nurture that family. And I also want to maintain independence and work on my own projects and goals. I want to continue to progress. I want to prioritize family and friends and in-person experiences over digital ones. I want to prioritize my health.
And that’s it in a nutshell.