It’s a straightforward question. But then again, I guess it depends what your interpretation of success is.
I admit that in recent years, I have berated myself, beat myself up and labelled myself as a failure. I am not successful. I am not in a fantastic job; I don’t have a degree; I don’t have a house (Sorry to shatter the illusion folks but Chateau Grump is a two bedroom semi-detached house in Dudley that’s rented); I can’t afford a wedding; can’t afford a nice holiday every year and to top it all off, I just couldn’t afford to be Dad. (Please, no comments saying, “You find the money blah blah blah.” It’s a cliche that I’m tired of hearing. It’s easy to say when you have a family support network around you. I don’t.)
But the reason why I’m a failure is not because of me, it’s because of others.
Now, I’m not going to harp on with some self-sympathy, woe is me, I’m a victim, I’ve been held back BS.
The reason why I’m a failure because of others is simply because I am measuring my success by the terms of how others measure it. I have been looked down upon by graduates who earn much more than I do and who are judging me by my job title, my assumed earnings and my apparent status in society. Therein lies the problem. We are possibly measuring success in terms of what society and the media depicts when it is simply not the case.
Switch on the TV or pick up a newspaper or magazine and you will see the rich and the famous. The shallow vision that portrays success as fame, financial security, big houses, big cars and other material objects that are tokens to display to the world that you are a success. Don’t get me wrong, credit where credit’s due. I admire people who achieve through hard work and reap the rewards, but success is not so two dimensional. This portrayal can cause many to feel like they have failed or aren’t good enough because they don’t fit the mould. Where’s the positive reinforcement of self-development? Where’s the gratitude of what you have right now? Where’s the goal of contentment these days? Where are the emotional success stories?
I feel that fame is now a part of our culture that defines success. Being an on-line trend with a million followers, going on Big Brother or Britain’s Got Talent, X-Factor, The Voice or the Antiques Roadshow.
Success is not about queuing up for eight hours to stand for three minutes, hungry for fame, with the same old sob story about wanting to be a singer all your life and how your budgie just died; in the hope that they’ll play a bit of Coldplay over your interview and after you give it your all, singing Robbie William’s Angels, in front of four self righteous judges and a massive audience, you will be judged, not only on whether you are talented, but also whether you are a sellable commodity. If it’s a yes, they’ll play the really uplifting bit of a Keane song. If it’s a no, there is a possibility that you will be publicly berated, belittled and the production team will have a field day editing the audition for TV so that you will be laughed at and shared on many Facebook and twitter streams around the globe. You will be a recognised face, but for being a fool. It is cruel and very sad. You are not a commodity.
Let me tell you the obvious thing here at a risk of sounding cliché. We are all different. You cannot expect everyone to reach for the same goals when you are not all starting from the same point.
It’s like having an Olympic hurdle sprint. But all participants in the race are starting in different places in their lanes; some further ahead than others. Equally, the finish line for some is closer than for others. Then we have the hurdles between the start and finish. One competitor has three hurdles; another has ten. That is life.
So when we compare ourselves to others and see the “Success” that they have achieved, and then feel bad about it and equally, they might be looking down on us prejudging, both parties do not know where the other started from. Yes, there was hard work to reach that point of “Success” but who’s to say that there wasn’t hard work to get where you are now?
Perhaps the “successful” one had help and guidance from supportive parents, perhaps they went to a better school, perhaps financially they’ve never had to struggle or perhaps they’ve never really had any other shit to deal with.
I look back on my 34 years. Without going into detail I admit that my teenage years were difficult. I didn’t have the support or love that I probably should have had. I was eventually kicked out of home. I never went back. Since then, I have done some pretty cool things. Whether it be Martial Arts, music, photography, travelling or writing, I have tried many new ventures, and have achieved many of my goals. I may not have a house, but I have saved hard and we’re almost there with a deposit. To top it all, I have the love of my beautiful Fiancée, Mrs Grump.
But to the person looking down at me, I am just a lowly claims handler for an insurance company, taking phone calls all day, every day. Why is it that people make such judgements based on a job title? As if it’s a label of worth.
I think when we need to consider if we are successful; we need to look at where we have come from, where we are now and where we are going.
If you look at who you were some time ago, compare that to who you are now and if you consider yourself to be a better version of yourself, you are a success. It’s as simple as that.
If you’ve stepped away from negativity in your life, you are a success!
It might be that you just wanted to get a job and got one. You are a success!
If you have managed to escape an abusive relationship, you are a success!
If you have taken the leap of starting to work for yourself, you are a success!
If you’ve overcome addiction, you are a success!
If you’ve decided to take action and ask for help, you are a success!
If you’ve studied to achieve a qualification or dream job, you are a success!
If you’ve created a healthier lifestyle, you are a success!
If you’ve simply made the decision to become a better version of yourself somehow, regardless of the outcome, simply doing it rather than giving up or growing stagnant, you are a success!
If you overcame any battle, any difficulty, any barrier that you came across in your life then YOU ARE A SUCCESS!
I also think we need to look forward. Are we still developing? Are we still growing into better versions of ourselves? I believe that success is not necessarily a full stop.
But that said, if your goal is to reach contentment and to just chill, then guess what? You’re a success too.
It’s not all about pound signs, dollar signs or any other denomination. It’s not about looking the part, spending lots of money and having lots of inanimate objects that do nothing to enrich your soul. There is nothing wrong with aiming for fame, a good car or financial security (it would certainly make life a little easier at times). But it’s not the be all and end all and by not achieving this, you are not a failure. Success is subjective, personal and internal because everybody and every path followed are different. (That’s pretty cliché, I admit.) Let’s not be bound by what society expects success to look like. They are not you.
So for me, I look back and forget about the expectations and interpretations of success that appear to be the status quo. It’s not about anybody else. I didn’t start in the same place as them. I look at where I am now, where I came from and the many difficulties I overcame and what I have achieved to date and also what I continue to do to develop myself and then it dawns on me that yeah, maybe I am a success.
I’m sure you are too. Don’t be hard on yourself and don’t give up either. To be a success, just succeed.
Not the usual humorous post this time. I’ll be back to my usual self next time.