To measure success, you must use a personal gauge.
Some people use money, their job, relationships, possessions, fame, status, and as my roommate Melanie suggested, “how many charitable organizations they own.” She’s a funny one. I measure success by a few things and I’m not measuring up quite well right now.
I can’t provide for myself and I haven’t been able to for quite some time. Granted, I lived in Israel where it’s very difficult to survive on your own as a new immigrant, but even since I’ve returned to the US, I’ve only made $260 for myself. And I’ve been hoarding it for a rainy day. This is the biggest detriment to my feelings of success. I have interviewed for jobs, but only one has really caught my attention. I want what most people want: to wake up and go to a job they love, and feel like they are making a difference.
I’m obviously not very successful at relationships. Friendships, yes. Relationships, no. I want to be, but I feel pretty insecure about my ability to commit to one person, even for just the time being. The idea of it really frightens me. It’s made me re-evaluate the direction my life is going in. If I don’t think marriage is for me, how can I even consider motherhood? It’s not something I need to figure out right now, and it’s not even something I can figure out. But the fear is ever-present. The “What if I never…” is a chant in the back of my head. I know I’m not alone there.
I’m not famous. I have no status, other than what I create in my head about myself and my possessions are mostly in a storage unit collecting dust. I miss my things. I know Tyler Durden says that our possessions end up owning us, which might be true, but I’m not ready to set fire to my house just yet (all in the proverbial sense of course). (also that’s a Fight Club reference just in case you didn’t get it, and if you didn’t get it, go watch Fight Club for the love of humanity).
In a rant to my friend Kelli about my feelings of inadequacy, uselessness, failure she wrote: You are successfully getting on with your life. Brave to get out of a relationship that didn’t make you happy knowing there is something better for you out there. Successfully moved to LA to pursue a different life with a different career. People come to see you talk. People read what you write. You’re successful. All along you have never forgotten who you are and where you came from.”
Perfect world: I believe her and think it for myself. Real world: Still a failure, but with good friends. What I can latch onto is that I never have forgotten who I was. All along in my despair, what I kept crying out was: I miss myself! I miss who I was! I miss my life! Perhaps it was selfish to choose that over my marriage, but I did it and I’m owning it. I will never forget where I came from. Who I am and what I love is inextricable from where I came from. That will always make me happy.
Many of us get caught up in our ideas of success and get down on ourselves because we don’t reach our own goals, even if they are unrealistic and we are blind to our own accomplishments. Today I’m going to ignore the voices in my head (which if you’ve seen my stand-up you know that they are Russian) and listen to the voices of my heart which tell me to focus on what is right, what I’m doing well, with the knowledge that I try to create meaningful interactions with those that I meet, trying each person with dignity and holding myself with grace. I’m not always good at that, but I am always trying. So today, if I can feel like I’m not a total failure, you can too. Whatever it is that plagues your heart, whatever makes you feel a little worthless, push it aside, and find what makes you worthy. Latch onto that, move ahead, keep your head up.