What is personal success?

What is personal success? Generalized success is different depending on the culture, society, and experiences, which leads to a question. What does success mean to me? 

Before, I start thinking about what personal success looks like to me in a past and future tense. Let’s look at one of those songs that, to me, represent dreaming about success, whether we are young or old. Without any delay, let us watch an iconic song about dreaming. “Rainbow Connection” from Kermit the Frog | The Muppets

This song struck a chord and reminded me of being a teen and young adult and what I thought a dream job and family were. That dream was acres of land that I worked and provided for my family and designed clothes, painted, and pottery. It is not where I am, how did I lose what made me happy or was my Rainbow Connection to the future, when I was young and where I am now. I was concerned that as I went forward with this thought, it would push at my anxiety and depression too hard.   

On YouTube, I ran across two songs that will prayerfully remind me as I go through this writing exercise of personal review.    

The song is ‘The Sound of Silence.’ Below are two versions because they are opposite ends of the singing style. 

Simon and Garfunkel – The Sound of Silence (from The Concert in Central Park)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NAEppFUWLfc

and 

Disturbed – The Sound Of Silence [Official Music Video] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9Dg-g7t2l4

These two versions presented to me that striving to fit my perception of the world’s idea/definition of success is my past to learn. My history makes me and to learn and adapt to my perceived failure and real achievements. Instead of striving for acceptance of others. Is striving for what places me at peace and able to live successfully with my various health conditions and take care of those around me. Where I am is different from where I thought I would be. My rainbow connection was a dream, but as I grew, decisions made, due to depression and anxiety changed that connection.  

Personal success is surprisingly a difficult thing to define for me. Even from a young age, the goals of life have always been set by those around me. The anxiety of not pleasing others would cripple me even still I am overthinking how others will perceive my actions. When looking back and doing a review of then and now, I do not see anything that I can honestly say is my idea. During High School I wanted to pursue clothes design, but my parents said I did not have the right background to succeed at it. My dad said, ‘I was from New Hampshire and did not have the background to fit the people of New York.’ So I just decided to leave that dream. I did a design and made my graduation dress. After I graduated, I went to business school for travel and tourism and worked full-time as a hostess, waitress, bartender, and closing manager.  Went to the school that was expected; picked something that would allow me to travel the world and see amazing museums, the beauty of the world, and the food.

When I graduated, I never did anything with the degree. There was no openings at the time for entry-level, and my younger sister needed to live with me, so I got a full and part-time job to support us because she did not want to live with our mom. My mom did not give us anything financially to cover my sister’s expenses, and mom kept our dad’s social security death benefits. Went on for several years toward the end, our mom moved in with us also for several months before they moved to Tennessee. Even looking back on this, I struggle with why I even agreed to all this because I lived in emotional pain the whole time. All I saw was two people that were family that needed help. My sister chose to go back with mom because living with me had too many rules to protect her. After they left was freeing and overwhelming. I continued to be consumed by supporting others, which meant a variety of roommates over the years that was caustic emotionally and financially draining.

Another aspect of life that I took on was assisting my grandparents, who I loved dearly, and were the people who were there for me no matter what growing up and even when I moved away. I spent every weekend with my grandparents when my grandfather was diagnosed with lung cancer due to working as a carpenter and before people realized that asbestos was a dangerous working material. During this time, I lived only to offer care to my grandparent’s needs and paying my bills. After my grandfather’s passing, I took on the responsibility of my grandmother’s needs that grandpa had always done. I met my husband soon after my grandfather’s passing. So I have lived the last twenty-plus years living my life as I have prior, which is to make my career choices based on my husband’s ideas not through anything nefarious (evil) on his part (before anyone worries ).   

I followed my husband’s suggestions because I genuinely did not have any goals that I saw I could do and provide financially to us as a couple, so I was contributing wherever I could get work as a secretary. When we had our daughter, those emotional goals shifted to care for her needs also. The only personal desire I had was to be a stay at home, mom, but my husband did not feel that was necessary and would not support that decision. Part of the employment shift was returning to the retail industry, which would allow me to be home during the day with her. As the years have progressed forward, I went to University for a Bachelor’s Degree, hoping to better myself to get a better job so my husband would be proud of me. He was never very supportive of me being in retail because he perceived me as a worker; I did not do much, and it was easy to work. For those that operate in retail, yes, he is still living, but he is part of our society that does not understand the emotional and physical toll we take as a retail worker.  

 I finished the degree that I thought would allow me to help more people, but I did not realize that the State of Ohio did not consider it an accredited school. This error by me reinforced my overall feeling of failure I felt as a mother, wife, student, and employee. Reinforced again, when I went searching for work that even though I had a degree due to my ten plus years in retail, I was not considered for positions because ‘I had no real work experience.’ Yes, that was communicated a couple of times, not by interviewers, but when I was trying to network a little bit more politely but still the same.

As time progresses, I am striving to find myself because I am exhausted from deciding my life based on what it means to please others. I feel comfortable moving forward due to my daughter graduating soon, and my husband has accepted me as he calls it ‘investing too much of myself in others.’ I think who I am is someone creative and likes to help others.  

This minimal review of who, what, and where I am going with my life reinforces success is a kaleidoscope of options and people impacted by the choices made or experiences caused by others. Things for me to consider as I try to resolve my family, friend, volunteer needs, and balance my emotional needs. For some, this may seem selfish but living and making a decision based on others and rarely on my own. I have made decisions in years past based on a balance of the needs of others, even when it puts me emotionally on the edge of depression. I want to try gearing some of my decisions by flipping the norm of my emotional needs first then, husband, daughter, work, and volunteering. Hmm, where is the answer to ‘What is my definition of personal success?’

Long story short, I do not have an answer to that because I still feel like a failure. Finding my success from my perspective does not exist. I do not have a current definite answer. I want to make it a goal to define that truth but may take time to find a solution.  

If I pull back the curtain of depression, I see a glimmer of success and a partial answer to the above question:

  • College Graduate achieved as a full-time employee, wife, and mom.  
  • Married 22 years (lol he is still breathing even during this time of Stay at Home 2020)
  • Mom of a teen daughter that still sometimes will talk to me
  • Managed Depression and Anxiety (daily work in progress)
  • Enjoy volunteering
  • Pushed my social anxiety aside and started being creative in a public forum

Seeing past the curtain of anxiety and depression does show some success may not be where I wanted to be in my twenties. Even now, but do have some peace at where I am.  

Short Term goals of working toward personal success maintain the above list and expand to include the creativity I had as a teen, support my daughter to become a writer and animator and support my husband to find where he is happy.

Long Term goals of personal success are helping others to see that mental health is okay to have, and mental health used as a motivator of positive change. Other purposes are to pay off our home and remodel to support us till we die, expand my Art to sell, and finish the book around my life and also where God fits in that life that I have worked on for the last ten years. 

Book title idea: Journaling from the edge of anxiety and depression.

My concern about my anxiety and depression was there. This took a week to work on and I had some strong ups and downs  but I count this a success because I was able to finish this and upload it.  Dwelling on the mistakes of the past was actually positive in moving forward.

Thank you for reading and following this blog and keep reaching for the Rainbow Connection of your life. Reach for your dreams, and it is okay if they get reshaped by who you are; it is alright we are all malleable. We need to accept that change/repair is okay when we are crossing the bridge of success. Even bridges need repairs.

Side note comments are linked not sure if I am going to be able to read them. Just to warn those that expect feedback.

References

11 GREAT THOUGHTS THAT CHANGED MY PERCEPTION ON SUCCESS, February 19, 2013, Mousumi Saha Kumar, http://brainprick.com/11-great-thoughts-that-changed-my-perception-on-success/

Merriam Webster Dictionary, 4/25/2020

failure noun, fail·​are | \ ˈfāl-yər \ Definition of failure, 1a: omission of occurrence or performance specifically: a failing to perform a duty or expected action fails to pay the rent on time b (1): a state of inability to perform a typical function kidney failure — compare HEART FAILURE (2): an abrupt cessation of normal functioning a power failure c: a fracturing or giving way under stress structural failure 2 a: lack of success b: a failing in business: BANKRUPTCY

He was trying to rescue the company from failure. 3a: a falling short: DEFICIENCY

a crop failure b: DETERIORATION, DECAY 4: one that had failed. He felt like a failure when he wasn’t accepted into law school. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/failure,

success noun suc·​cess | \ sək-ˈses \ Definition of success 1 a: degree or measure of succeeding, b: favorable or desired outcome also: the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence 2: one that succeeds 3 obsolete: OUTCOME, RESULT

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/success

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