Friday, October 28, 2011

Standing Still: a Reflection on Success

                                                                               Source: via Kari on Pinterest

The world rushes by in a blur, and I have to sit down because the movement makes me dizzy. I've always been susceptible to motion sickness, but I've never let it stop me from moving forward. Looking around, I see success. Success and promise for the future. People making their dreams come true, one step at a time. It's a true joy to see that. To see friends taking giant leaps towards their happiness. To see that happiness on their faces and in their smiles.

But what is success? That's a question that's been weighing on my mind a lot lately, as I look at my own life, my career, and towards my future. Sometimes, the world rushes by so quickly that you feel like you might be standing still. You may look at yourself and still see where you were five or even ten years ago and think, is this it? You may stare at those around you and wonder...why not me? It's a natural feeling. It's a feeling that, I think, we all have from time to time...myself included.

I'm twenty-eight years old. Young still, I know. But when I graduated from college six years ago, this is not where I imagined myself to be. Graduating on that December day so many years ago, I foolishly thought things would be easy. I thought I would graduate and start writing for a living right away. I thought I would finish a novel and have it published. I thought I would be a best-selling novelist by now.

But did I think those things? Was I ever really that naive?

When I chose to be an English major in college, surely I didn't believe that a career in writing would ever be simple. Back then, I can even remember joking with my parents and my friends that I wanted to be a starving artist when I grew up. So surely I understood that writing was some kind of a pipe dream, a happily ever after scenario that might never come true...

But I was younger then, and Lord knows, I was idealistic, a dreamer, so maybe I didn't know. Maybe I didn't understand that I would have to have a day job to keep things going, to keep food on the table. Maybe I didn't realize that success in the writing world would have to be measured in baby steps, in a barely perceptible movement forward that would eventually, hopefully move me forward. Maybe I just didn't know that sometimes I would move so slowly towards my goal that it would seem I was standing still.

For some, success might appear to come easy. You might blink and see them already winners in life...even though only a few seconds have passed. For others, success may come slow. It make take its own sweet time arriving at their door. But the fact of the matter is that success doesn't come easy or slow to anyone. As Marva Collins says, "Success doesn't come to go to it."

You may take baby steps to reach it, and you may take giant leaps of faith. You may find your own success in the smile of your spouse or child, in the warmth of your home and the food on your table. You may see success in the pride you take in a job well done or in the support of the parents who love you so much.

What is success?

To me, success is writing everyday. It's loving words and breathing through the characters and stories that form on a page. It's being part of an amazing relationship full of warmth and laughter. It's the dreams that an eight year-old, then seventeen year-old, then twenty-two year-old, and now twenty-eight year-old girl just won't let go of.

Success is around me everyday, and it's always there...whether I'm moving or standing still.

How do you measure success?
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