Success – how do you know when you have achieved it? What on earth does that even mean?
As you all probably already know, I am smack bang in the middle of a career change. I’ve had ups and downs during this period, mainly ups really but my downs are centred on a similar thing most of the time – success! I’ve been questioning whether I am successful. I want to be! I want others to think of me as successful (here I go again) and I want my future children to see me as a success. However, when I started to think about it, I didn’t even know what I meant, what the hell does successful even mean?
In classic kateloren style, I decided to look it up and when I did, I found that success can mean two things, when relying on a dictionary that is. The first thing it said was something I think success is mostly judged on these days;
To me, growing up, I guess I always thought that success meant to earn a lot of money and to be of a high social status and achieving great things in a career that is “respected”. A career that makes people go “oh wow, how on earth do you do that?” or “I’d love to do that” or “oh, that sounds amazing” or even just that look of respect in their eyes, you know what I mean? I guess I thought that when you get those sorts of reactions then you’re really successful. I guess sometimes I was also judging success against jealousy and envy; the more jealous people are, the more successful you are because everyone wants to be where you are. Now, this not only embarrasses me to admit this but saddens me too. This was all happening subconsciously and I never really thought that much about it, I guess it’s just the way society makes you feel sometimes.
On leaving my job as a teacher, which is more often than not a well-respected job by others (don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of people who don’t respect the hard work that goes into teaching but the majority of people I spoke to had that look on “respect” in their eyes) one of the things that really worried me was whether I was ever going to find a career that will make me feel that respected again? I often worry about what people think (as I explained in my previous blog) and I guess I was worried about what others would think of my new chosen career and I was worried I wouldn’t feel as successful. I often think about my future family and I was worried that my children may not be as proud of me. YES, I know it is absolutely ridiculous.
HOWEVER, since leaving I have realised something VERY important. GONE are the days of social snobbery!! Gone are the days of hierarchy! Don’t get me wrong, you will always have some form of hierarchy in the world (some people are too power hungry for there not to be) and some snobs always lying around and sadly I guess I used to secretly be one but gone are those days too! From an early age, society teaches us to have a plan; “what do you want to be when you grow up?” people would ask and that’s fine. It’s good to have dreams, good to have ambitions but when you get to your GCSE’s/A Levels and you have to suddenly act on it, it all becomes a little frightening. “How do I know I’m doing the right thing?” you’d ask. “I have no idea what I want to be.” Some would say! It’s a harsh reality that you’re faced with and you’re very often made to believe that you have to make choices on your whole future there and then. You’re under the impression that whatever you do from then on in, you’re doing for the rest of your life. Well, I always knew what I wanted to do. When I was tiny, I would line up my teddy bears and write on my chalk board and then when I grew up, my path became clearer. I had an amazing Drama Teacher and I wanted to be just like her. For reasons I won’t go into (because I’ve already gone into them in a previous blog) that didn’t work out for me and I suddenly found myself back to the beginning, back to the days of deciding what I wanted to do for the rest of my life at the aged of 28 and to be honest with you, as much as I tried not to, a part of me felt like a failure. I hadn’t succeeded in my future goals, I had been unsuccessful.
Now, this is where the second definition of successful comes into it:
Did I accomplish an aim? My aim was to become a Drama Teacher, so yes, I did (and much more). Did I achieve my teenage goals? Did I get a job and give that job my all? Yes, I did. I may not be continuing on the same path but that does not mean I have been unsuccessful.
I think it’s important for us to know when we’re at that age and making those choices that they don’t have to be for life. This is why my idea of success earlier on was not, and will never be valid. Success should not be measured on how much money you have, what your social status is or whether or not people respect or are jealous of you! Success is setting yourself an aim and achieving that aim. This time last year, all I ever wanted to be was happy. Without realising it, I was setting myself a new aim, to be happy! By moving on, by changing career, I have been successful in accomplishing that aim. Respect from any new role that I have will come from others when it comes from me. Along this journey, I am bound to set myself new aims and therefore will have many opportunities to be successful, to be a “success”. I said I worried about what my future children will think, they’ll hopefully think “our mum is a success, she sets goals and she achieves them and she does things that make her happy and make others happy too.” (they may not use those exact words, they may not admit it but that’s what I’ll be judging my success rate on; Do I make myself happy? Do I make others happy? If the answer is yes, I’ll consider myself to be a success. I’ve left my chosen career path but by doing so I’ve opened myself up to new experiences and accomplished new things and that makes me very happy.
Success doesn’t bring happiness, happiness brings success.
Success is never final.
Success comes from within.
Success is whatever you make of it!