lifestyle · minimalism · self-help · Uncategorized

The Measure of Success

I want to continue being crazy; living my life the way I dream it, and not the way other people want it to be.

-Paulo Coelho

Five years ago, I thought I had made it.  I graduated from college.  I was 21 years old and engaged.  I moved from a small town to a small city.  I had a term position at a large law firm as a legal assistant.  I remember taking the ferry to work the first day, and my building came into view.  It was a picture of the epitome of success.  Men in suits, women in heels, pressing the button to go up the elevator on a double digit floor.  It smelled like prestige.

Two weeks in, I knew this isn’t where I wanted to be, but I had to be here, you know, for the money.  And everyone else told me I was successful, so I should be happy, right?  I had a great opportunity.  This was supposed to be success.

That job ended.  I got another.  I left that job because I went home crying more times than not.  There was a lot of pressure.  I didn’t fit in.  I sewed up my cardigans when they ripped because I couldn’t afford a new one.  I pretended I had more than I did.  I had created a false self to survive.  But I was successful.  I should have been happy.

I got another job.  This job was busier than both of the other jobs combined.  I needed help and management didn’t listen.  I started having panic attacks in the toilets at work.  I started waking up in the middle of the night, worrying about the next day at work.  Wondering if I had forgotten to do something.  I gained more weight.  I started having health issues.  I created another pretend me to survive.  But I should have been happy. I was successful.  I worked for a big accounting firm now.

I left that job one day with two weeks notice and the next week I had another job.  I started as a temp, making next to no money, doing odds and ends.  I worked for the government now.  People were sure to tell me I made it.  I got a term, and then another.  I made more money.  My friends made comments about it, my parents were so happy.  I still work there now, but the thing is, the story has never changed.  Anxiety, panic, overworking.  Crying almost every day.  But I am successful – because other people decided I am.

The point of this tale is to say that societal definitions of success aren’t necessarily true.  Climbing the economic latter has very little to do with happiness and everything to do with social acceptance.  The more money you make, the easier it is to be accepted, the easier it is to be loved.

It is a harsh reality but we are judged based on what we make.  When we meet someone, the first question we ask is “what do you do?”.  This is not the question of what do you do for fun.  It is the question of what do you do for money so I can decide how much you will mean to me based on your income only.

I have judged people by what they make, I still do subconsciously.  But I have now decided this means nothing about a person, the money they have in the bank. People are all valuable irrespective of money in the bank.  My life has just as much worth as Bill Gates.  My life has just as much worth as that homeless man hustling for money on the street.  The worth of human life does not increase or decrease.  It just is.

This is the year of change.  Let’s all remember to not judge one another.  Let’s make positive changes to move forward, through the discomfort into our own version of success. Your parents, your grandparents, your neighbours, your spouse, your kids – their opinions are not yours.  Own your success, own your vision of your life.

It’s time to live life for ourselves.


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