Looking at my life now and realizing how drastically different it is to what I expected it to be begs the question
… Did I fail?
Can we all just be honest?…
I barely ever felt like I had my sh** together in my life. As I am writing now, I cannot recall one time where I felt like, Yeah, I got this. There was always a tinge of doubt, uncertainty and the dreaded imposter syndrome. Don’t get me wrong, I have had some amazing gifts given to me in my life, but for some reason I still struggle with feeling like I am not doing what I am supposed to do, that I am not fulfilling my purpose. I know that I am not the only one-
Yes I am calling you out.
I know for a fact that so many of my peers have a great image portrayed via social media, but privately pull their hair out in order to find the correct lens to filter their life through. It is easier to edit our life to make it seem like we have figured it all out because it conveniently allows us to delay actually figuring it out. I used to want so many different things for my life with such bravado and certainty when I was younger. Now I look back on that person who acted as though they knew everything with such disdain.
How could I have spent so much of my life so clueless?
Am I still doing it?
Will I ever know?
All great questions with no real answers.
I had visions that I wanted to work as an actor full time back when I was in my early teens and 20s, but the more I was around actors, the more I could not stand actors. I believed that since I had made up my mind such a long time ago to pursue a certain thing, I could not change. This, of course, led me to completely change and try to decipher what the remaining rubble of my past decisions meant. It’s an unnerving feeling to realize that what you put so much brain power into suddenly doesn’t mean a fraction of what it once did to you. I have no idea who I am. I have no idea if I failed. Lifting up the boulder of expectation off my back has been incredibly taxing, liberating, terrifying and unsettling.
The fact that I am redefining what my dreams and aspirations are encourages the threat of being wrong this time too.
And if I am wrong, does it truly matter?
I guess to define right or wrong, left or right, up or down, I need to first dissect what exactly failure and success mean.
Ok, so this word is one of the many that have several different meanings, but if you use this word it ALWAYS holds weight. The commonly acknowledged definition is something like; not succeeding at something one aspired to do. Ok, so with that definition it’s pretty obvious that we are all failures in some sense and at some point. You’ve heard before that you have to fail to succeed or that we learn the most in our failures, but why do we have to put so much emphasis on life being something to win or lose at? I understand the idea of having goals and ambitions to work toward because you enjoy them and you want something for yourself, that’s fine. I think my issue comes up where if we don’t accomplish exactly what we set out to accomplish, life seems somewhat less satisfying.
It highlights our gluttony for pleasure and caters to our inflated self image.
For me, I get obsessive with everything that crosses my path. Basically, if it turns me on in someway I cling to it and bulldoze a way to make that thing, person, event, circumstance, etc. mine. What’s wrong with this is that it continuously takes me out of the moment I am in or the gratitude I should feel with what I have already accumulated. There is nothing wrong with pushing yourself to achieve something that you want, but when we start putting our own value on whether or not we get that thing, we are treading murky water.
Failure is the other F word. No one wants to admit to it when it happens and when it does happen several will think that it’s a life sentence. Not true. Once we start appreciating the fact that we really have no idea why we are here and what we are supposed to do, we can then start doing what we actually enjoy doing and since we are earnestly enjoying ourselves, this will lead to success on many fronts. This lesson is easy for me to type , but so difficult to apply daily in my own life. I suffer from the dreaded comparison complex where I view others in my demographic and start to shrink into this ball of despair because I automatically start to compare my life with theirs. Of course, I only get to see the edited versions of these folks’ lives, but when I am loathing in this pit I convince myself that it’s all real and that I am a loser that will never achieve what I want because I am not good enough, therefore I am a failure.
It get dark pretty quickly.
Once in this pit of despair, I then get irritated at myself for caring so much about, for all intents and purposes, fictitious people. How can someone who doesn’t even truly exist make me feel like I am not living up to my potential? What is my potential and why does it matter? It is hard to figure out the difference between our own selfish ego and our true gifts as individuals. This has been my lifelong struggle. I don’t want to partake in anything that feeds my shallow desires, but I find difficulty uncovering the depths of who I am, therefore, leaving me to feel like a failure. Why can’t I figure it out? Why does it seem like everyone else has?
I recently started listening to this wonderful speaker named Sadhguru and he has really helped me gain a better perspective on life in general and the never ending hamster wheel that humans willingly put themselves on. In short, he has been teaching me to get over myself. To just be. It might sound hippie dippie to you and that’s fine, but try it before you knock it. Especially in the times that I feel I am worth nothing, realizing that there is a whole world that is functioning beautifully without me and that I was blessed enough to be here to participate helps me gain the perspective I need. When I start to think in this macro way, my anxieties become so trivial. Mind you, they do not go away permanently, I still struggle everyday to find gratitude. But when I find that sweet spot there is a peace that flushes over my body that no level of achievement or success could compete with. The moment I disregard whether I will fail at something is when I have found true success. We cannot be who we genuinely are if we are worried about the scoreboard. We cannot do what we are naturally good at if we don’t allow ourselves to do these things naturally. We will not enjoy what we have if we fixate on what we have yet to obtain. We must get over ourselves.
Again, a tricky subject. How to define success? Here is the definition I found: the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors; the accomplishment of one’s goals. Leave it to the dictionary to keep it as vague as possible!
Come on, this is just laughable.
Of course, you and I both understand the definition, but have we experienced it? Can we identify it in front of us? Is it as clear to us as a blue sky or green grass?
I’ll put my money on no.
I think an issue that we face in our every day life is that whatever success we do achieve we are made to believe that it’s not enough. That we can’t rejoice in what we have discovered in ourselves nor can we spend too much time in a joyous state because the evil success thief is lurking in the shadows ready to snatch what we have earned and give it to someone else. We are in this hyper state of paranoia that if we enjoy our life for too long a period of time, we will lose everything we have gained.
Think about it. Have you ever felt guilty for taking a mental health day or sleeping in a bit longer than you usually do? For me, when I indulge like that I am burdened with this overwhelming sense of guilt because I start comparing myself to those that are up at 5am EVERYDAY doing and working and striving. Yet, here I am lying in bed petting my cat while I could be going for a run or working on my website or saving the world. In these moments I come face to face with the success thief where the conversation goes something like this…
ST: You know the longer you stay in bed and do nothing the more worthless you are. You don’t deserve anything that you have and you know it so you better get up and do, do, do because if you don’t, everyone you love will be disappointed and think that you are a loser, which you are.
Me: But I…
ST: Don’t try and talk back to me you piece of sh*t! You know that you are lazy and don’t deserve to take a break because you are already so far behind from everyone else around you.
Me: I’m trying to do well and my family says that they are proud.
ST: How dumb are you? They are just saying that to make sure your fragile ego doesn’t crack because they don’t want to be burdened with the mess. You think that you are the kind of person they signed up for? You make their life harder because you can’t get your sh*t together and they have to constantly comfort you because you are too weak. Now, get out of bed and start working. You should be ashamed of yourself for thinking you have earned a moment of peace.
Me: Ok, you’re right… (gets up and resumes working)
Pretty intense huh? Sad thing is, I know that more then one of you can relate to this dialogue. It is truly horrifying the thoughts that dance around my head and how easy it is for me to believe every single one of them. When I stop and think about success I realize I don’t want it if it will never satisfy me. Can we enjoy the success we experience in life, big or small, or does it warrant a host of new anxieties that we then need to tend to in order to sustain the aforementioned achievement? A never-ending cycle indeed.
In a nutshell, success isn’t success if it doesn’t feel successful. Pretty simple right? Nor is the title, achievement, item worth it if it burdens the recipient in an unmanageable way. I’m not saying life shouldn’t be challenging, that’s what makes it sweet, but I am saying that when it starts to overwhelm us and torture us, we must recalibrate our values.
Most of us fall somewhere on the spectrum of success and failure. It’s a fact that none of us are perfect so thank God we don’t have to worry about that. We are all dealing with the issues/ questions that our ancestors dealt with and that our children will have to face as well.
We are not unique, we are not special, we do not know, we just are.
The moment that we forget we are apart of something larger than ourself is the moment we stop living. Life is pretty miserable if we venture through it like a horse with blinders on. Life is what happens when you are busy doing other things. Goals are how we preoccupy our time while life remains constant. Life doesn’t wait to start until after we succeed, nor does it stop once we fail, it just is. Our silly attempts at trying to control the outcome of anything is truly amusing. The cliche is true, it’s a journey. Every peak and valley are necessary in the construction of self. There is no mistake you have made that will take away your ability to find gratitude. As long as you can fill your lungs with air, you can be grateful.