Stop Following Someone Else’s Definition of Success
Looking back, I feel that for the majority of my life I tried to follow the expectations and follow the path that I thought I was supposed to take. Now don’t get me wrong. I was definitely not the child that did everything that they were supposed to do. As someone who had a kid at 18, you can probably figure out that I had a rebellious streak too. However, even the fact that I had a kid as a teenager seemed to propel me onto another path that I thought I was supposed to follow.
It went from a plan of going to school, getting good grades, going to college, getting a good job, climbing the ladder, retiring, and dying.
Or something like that.
To after finding out about the baby; getting married (southern baptists “fix” teen pregnancy like this), being a good mom, being a good wife, keeping everything done and perfect, trying to do college (hello US Career mail order), get a job, climb the ladder, raise my kid, retire, die.
Neither sounds like a winner now, but at the time, I thought my path was determined for me. As someone who grew up fairly poor, my goal was college and an amazing job. This would make sure I was happy, successful, had plenty of money. I didn’t even realize at the time there were other options, so when I struggled I would hop into some plan to make sure I ended up back on my path. I even went so far as to start getting certifications in other fields to get a different job with the purpose of having it fund getting back on my path. This back-and-forth was not only exhausting but pointless.
It took me almost 20 years, 64ish + certifications in an embarrassingly bi-polarish amount of fields, 2 degrees from non-accredited schools, a host of jobs, freelancing, having 6 more kids, ending up divorced (almost twice), starting great businesses, starting terrible businesses, investing time and money into great investments, investing time and money into terrible investments, getting involved with some scary people and a public company only to have to whistleblow on corruption I saw (that is an entire Netflix series story) and having a complete nervous breakdown to figure out that I could create my own path.
I could create my own definition of success.
And for me to walk up and to figure out that I was STILL following someone else’s definition of success.
When I really realized this I was floored. At this point in my life I THOUGHT I had escaped the “path” a million times over by doing my own thing and making my own decisions. But, in reality, ALL of my decisions were made with that same damn path in mind. What other people thought. I was walking on eggshells in my entire life and it was MY FAULT.
It wasn’t my fault that society puts pressures on us to do things a certain way.
It wasn’t my fault that the way I was raised in a southern baptist family left me feeling ashamed and worthless with some of the things that had happened.
It wasn’t even my fault that some of the businesses I tried and some of the investments I got into blew up in my face.
And, it wasn’t even my fault that some people treated me terribly and I felt so pressured to get out of some personal situations that I ignored the voices in my head.
But, it WAS my fault that I ever allowed it.
It was my fault that I allowed myself to feel the way that I did.
It was my fault that I gave people the power over me that made me feel that I had to walk on eggshells.
And, it was my fault that I didn’t find my voice until almost 40 years of age to allow me to set my boundaries, make no apologies for my purpose, and to speak real-raw-authentic without fear of judgement.
I talk to so many people who are like I was. They are on someone else’s path…letting them define what they do and what they should do and what they should dream.
Or, maybe they are where I was for the longest, and they teeter back and forth between someone else’s path and what they THINK they want because they aren’t super clear about what exactly they want..because no one has ever given them the chance to find out.
And, maybe they are to the point of pushing away the expectations and barreling forward on their own path, but it has been hard to find clarity so they are bouncing everywhere wasting time and resources along the way. I know this was as well.
No matter where you are in your journey, know this…no one’s journey is the same, and no one’s journey is perfect. Some journeys are a bit more chaotic than others (hello my life), and that is okay. The key is starting to recognize that you are DONE with living someone else’s definition of success. You are DONE with living someone else’s happy. And you are ready to try to find your path.
Don’t be scared to get lost and have to take a detour.
Don’t be afraid to fall on your face.