“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement and success have no meaning.” (-Benjamin Franklin)
When you hear the word “success,” do you imagine being wealthy, popular, having everything you’ve ever wanted and being the envy of those around you? Those are some of the ways our society defines success. And for awhile, it was how I saw success for myself.
I looked at my accomplishments as never measuring up, because I never felt like I had it all together, whereas it seemed like everyone around me did. Spoiler alert: we’re all just splashing around in the deep end of life trying to figure shit out.
If I had to define my most successful period based on the way the world sees success, I would say it was when I was living in Tucson. I had a steady job making the most money I ever had in my career (which wasn’t much, considering I was in TV news), a small group of close friends I made through my job that I enjoyed hanging out with on the clock and outside of work, an adorable dog (still have her!), my own apartment and car (with well over 100K miles on it, but still running well), stable enough financially that I could spend money on clothes and makeup and fancy vegan products from Whole Foods. To some people, maybe it looked like I had it all. But below the surface, there was a girl who constantly questioned herself. I performed well at my job, but most days I didn’t feel any passion for it and wondered if I would ever find a job I liked that didn’t leave me feeling frazzled and burnt out at the end of most days. I struggled with feeling like I wasn’t cool enough to hang out with certain people. I hated that I didn’t have enough time or money to take fun vacations like all the women I followed on Instagram. I wondered if I would ever be in a romantic relationship like pretty much everyone around me seemed to be in.
A lot has changed in the year since I left my job in Tucson and moved to Phoenix. To most people, a lot of what has happened in my life since the beginning of 2018 might seem more like a failure than a success. I didn’t have another job lined up so I had to move in with my parents while I searched for a job. I was unemployed for almost 4 months before I finally landed a new position, which paid even less than my TV job and required me to drive 2-3 hours a day round trip. I was only able to travel a handful of times, and most of those vacations were to in-state destinations. I didn’t really make any friends at my new job because I was only there for 6 months before I was laid off, and I didn’t really maintain any of the friendships I made in Tucson. I struggled a lot with anxiety and depression during my two periods of unemployment. I found a new job fairly quickly after being laid off the second time, but it was only a part time position so I was officially making the least money I ever had since I started working in 2014.
2018 was a growing year for me. And sometimes, growing hurts. But I came out of that year so much stronger, and more confident. I’ve made it my mission to radiate positivity in 2019 as much as possible, and I’ve held to that as best I can. I absolutely love my new job, even though part time hours don’t pay the bills and I am nowhere close to being able to move out on my own again. I have more time now to dedicate to outside passions, especially running. I’m trying to appreciate the situation I’m in now, and grow where I’ve been planted. I know this won’t be where I am forever, but I want to be grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given. I love that I’ve been able to spend so much time with my parents and develop a relationship with them as an adult. I wasn’t able to do that as much during the years I lived hundreds of miles away from them. I appreciate having two extra pairs of hands to help me take care of Honey when I’m busy with work. I feel grateful that living at home has allowed me to save more of my money for the future. I’m blessed that my long commutes gave me a good reason to buy my first car and become more financially responsible. I have made so many strides in regards to my mental health. I’m trying my best to cultivate meaningful relationships with the people around me and the friends I do have that are far away, even if our friendship doesn’t always look the way it used to.
I feel like I’m way more successful now than I was when I had a full-time job and making more money because I’ve redefined what success means to me. It’s not all about the $$$ and popularity and Insta likes. My struggles have made me a more confident person, which I call a success. I’ve learned that it’s okay to need help sometimes, which is a success. I’ve come to realize that I need to pursue a career that I’m passionate about, rather than just chasing paychecks and feeling unfulfilled. I know now that I don’t have my shit together and maybe I’ll never feel like a “real” adult but then again, who ever really does?
What does success mean to you?