What is Success?

Worrying has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I’ve worried about everything under the sun at one time or another.

My current worry is, am I/will I ever be successful?

I reflect on my career and finances primarily and debate with myself whether they’re successful enough.

I’ve always said that if I write for a living and am making a difference with my writing, I will be happy. For 2 years I have done that for a non-profit organization telling stories and encouraging others to donate. But I don’t make as much money as I would like. Does that make my job unsuccessful?

Because I don’t make a lot of money, it holds me back financially. I live at home with my mom because I spend almost half of my bi-weekly paychecks on student loans. I look at my bank account and shake my head because I always wish I had a few more dollars in there. Does that make me a failure?

I feel like I’m nowhere near being a success person because of my financial situation. I feel like I have failed at life.

My depression loves to play these thoughts on repeat. My mind tells me I will never amount to anything, that any dream I have will never become a reality because I am destined to fail.

I dream of writing a non-fiction book, of having a story published in a popular publication, of getting married, traveling the world and somehow paying off my student loans.

Those goals seem so unattainable that it discourages me from trying.

Next month I find out if I am getting a raise which I really, really want. If I my pay remains stagnant, I will find a new job. If I get the raise, I’ll stay on for longer. So we shall see what happens on the career front this summer!

How do you define success? Do you feel successful in your life?

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Life Has to Kick Me Down a Few Times Before I’ll Succeed

Life has thrown me more curve balls lately. I have four jobs; 2 are part-time, 2 are on-call. The on-call jobs don’t always have work. I say what days I can work, and they choose all the people they need. I get work once a month if I’m lucky. The part-time jobs only offer so many hours each week. What this boils down to, I barely make enough money to survive. Adding insult to injury, the state and federal governments kept my tax refund this year.

They kept the money for student loans. While unemployed for almost half the year, I had a deferment but that finished last month. First payments are due in March, but they kept my refunds anyway. The number they tell you to call, just an automated system that never lets you talk to a person. Literally, it told me I had four debts, nothing else, and the call ended. I filed for a forbearance, but I doubt I’ll get my refunds. Why does any of this matter?

The money from my tax refund would pay my psychiatry bill and dental bills. Until I figure things out, I canceled all my appointments because I’ll have enough to pay rent but nothing else. I’m waiting on approval for nutrition assistance. My car battery died. I’ll wait a week before someone can give me a jump because of scheduling issues. I don’t use my car much so I’m not worried. When I told my sister about some of my struggles and she offered this statement, “You’ll figure it out.” Super supportive.

I know I’ll figure things out, but I feel stuck in a pattern I can’t break. I thought seeing a doctor would help, but I can’t afford one. Over the last 11 years my annual income averaged about $18,000. I attended college during some of that time, but even after college I feel stuck in the same hole. Every attempt to climb out has failed or brought more obstacles; too many to overcome.

I’m stuck between finding a crap full-time job and trying to continue building my writing career. There are few jobs in my city for writers and fewer remote jobs for writing. I’ve applied to many and never get responses. I’ll keep applying. When will I make enough money to survive? I struggle with meeting new people and building relationships, but I can’t work on that until I’m not stressed about where my next meal comes form or if I can pay rent. Welcome to the great America with an expensive existence.

A letter to myself on the days I feel I’m about to drown

You are so much more than your productivity. Don’t break yourself for it.

Friendly reminder that “your best” doesn’t mean pushing yourself to your breaking point. “Your best” means the best you can do while being your best you. Get enough sleep, give yourself breaks, listen to your limits. “Your best” is better when you are happy and healthy.

I know how important it is to you; your work means everything to you, it’s your driving purpose, the fire in your belly, it’s how you find meaning in this sometimes arduous existence.

And you should work hard, push yourself, challenge yourself, get outside your comfort zone.

But you can be all of those things and be the best you. You can be successful without ignoring when your soul and body tell you that they need rest. God, I PROMISE the world will not end if you switch your phone off for a day and don’t open any emails! I swear, the world can go on without you!

Imagine your role in the world has a play and pause button. Don’t be afraid to hit pause when you need to; you can hit play just as easily, even though you’re afraid that if you stop you’ll lose momentum. But sustainable progress and growth and success don’t work that way. People who burn bright until the end are those who know when to dim the lights and when to turn them all the way up. dardan-671877-unsplash

I promise the world will survive if you take the day – maybe even the week if that’s what you really need – to breathe, to get to that laundry that’s been giving your anxiety and sweep all the dust out from under the bed and buy yourself some flowers and connect with loved ones for no reason other than that you should make all the time in the world for the things that matter in a life that is so fleeting.

You’ll hit play when you’re ready. Your fear of failure is just a shadow, it can’t hurt you or your progress. Acknowledge its presence, but say, “this feeling is uncomfortable, but it can’t harm me, it’s just a feeling, nothing more.” Just because you FEEL afraid that taking a break to recharge your mind and soul will derail you doesn’t mean it actually will.

I promise it won’t, so love and believe in yourself enough to trust your ability to get back into the race – after you’ve taken a moment to breathe, hydrate, stretch and centre yourself.

Your health, your wellbeing, and YOU exist outside of how productive you are. Don’t sacrifice those things for productivity. You are valuable and worthy of love and success and happiness and all things great even on your lazy, unproductive days where you don’t do anything noteworthy. You are amazing and valid even on the days you don’t do anything particularly amazing.

Resting is amazing.

Listen to your limits, and value yourself enough to do what you need to do when the alarms go off.

fatima-fuentes-1083754-unsplashHitting pause never killed anybody. You deserve rest, no matter how productive you think you haven’t been/should be.

So, go out and do your best this week; be the best you.

-Steph (hunting happiness)