A relatively new friend of mine posted a poignant status on Facebook about the definition of success. It’s definition, what it means to society and most importantly what it means to us as individuals. It is easy to look to the societal views on success which often drift to material objects like house, car, mortgage (or lack thereof!) , relationship, children, grandchildren, knowledge and the big one money.
I did some online research about success and there is one word that kept emerging through my investigative journey “failure”. Kathleen Parker from The Washington Post has written an extensive article on “Success By Failing” and goes into our love of stories of success.
“A history of human failure would make for a long and interesting read, yet we prefer books about success. We thrill at the end-zone victory dance, applaud the extra point, admire the perfect 10. In literature, what is redemption but recovery from human failing? We love no one more than the man or woman who says I made a mistake, I’m sorry, please forgive me. Forgive? We want to hoist the penitent on our shoulders.” – How we succeed by failing – The Washington Post. 2015. How we succeed by failing – The Washington Post. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/how-we-succeed-by-failing/2011/10/14/gIQAnDgykL_story.html. [Accessed 18 December 2015].
It is also a word that resonates with me. I feel like I have tried so many things in life and if I looked at what the societal norms of success are, then I would be a failure. I tried to have a career as a singer, failure (well to be honest I never really tried that hard!), I failed at a 5 year relationship, I failed at my first attempt at completing university, I failed to move onto another relationship for another 5 years after that 5 year relationship ended. I failed at life when I fell into a deep depression turning to alcohol and indulgence, I failed at maintaining a relationship with my biological father due to extreme prejudice. I could go on all day about the long list of what could be considered “failures” in my life.
It would be easy for me to look back and get depressed about these failures and think wow I have no success in my life, that is if I chose to measure what I consider success against societies measuring stick. So what do I consider success? For 6 years I have run an online publication Novastream which has gone from being a small music blog to now this giant monster of a website where I get to work with so many amazing and talented writers and media personalities across the country. Does it rake in millions of dollars a day? No but I still consider it to be a success. I have my mental and physical health back on track and have been in a relationship for a few months now.
I have a roof over my head, I have a car, am completing university and on track to getting into the kind of career and job that I want to have. I have finished my first television script (I wrote a whole freaking season of the show!) and am on track to finish my first novel by the middle of next year (with a short story also in the works!).
When measuring success, the typical thing we do as humans is to compare ourselves to other people. Be that peers, celebrities, business people or gurus, instead what I have learnt is to compare our success to our own model of what the word means. It is not all about million dollar houses, fancy cars and clothes (although it is nothing to sniff at!) Success should be a reflection of your life, your progress and how you value your self-worth.