Like most people, there is a need in me to feel successful, to feel like my life was not wasted, to feel like it mattered that I have lived. As a young adult, again, like most people, I have chased success entirely based on material things. Do I have enough money in the bank? Do I have enough rental properties to send Sophia to college and retire on someday?
The pandemic made me think a lot (well… more than the usual anyway). Before, yes I contemplated on the meaning of life and everything. But now it is more intense. Questions like where I belong and what I am meant to do are more frightening. Before I was like a big ship with all the right tools with a known destination, mainly financial freedom. Now I am like a small raft drifting out in the vast ocean, desperately trying to find my way, but mostly at the mercy of the winds and the stars, most of the times not even bothering to care for I have no idea where I am headed to anyway.
Ralph Waldo Emerson defined success as follows:
1. To laugh often and much. I have laughed a lot already, and hopefully a lot lot more in the future, since lately I do not have much reason to. It is actually one of my favorite things to do! I laugh when I am glad, sad, mad and scared.
2. To win the respect of intelligent people. I have interacted with extremely intelligent people (like mensa members!) and I was able to hold up my end of the conversation.
3. To win the affection of children. I think children love me, at least my daughter thinks I am pretty awesome! And here is her list why Sophia adores Mommy.
4. To earn the appreciation of honest critics. I welcome constructive criticisms, and I am not afraid of disapproval. 10 Irrational Reasons To Live In Fear Of Disapproval Or Criticism.
5. To endure the betrayal of false friends. Yes, some friends has betrayed me in the past and I survived.
6. To appreciate beauty. I suppose the thing I need to work on the most is to appreciate beauty! I should start learning to appreciate myself more! Kidding aside, I need to learn to appreciate flowers and sunsets and paintings etc. I just do not find them interesting so I do not pay them much attention.
7. To find the best in others. Like I always tell my daughter, there is good in everyone. And it is advantageous for us to focus on them rather than on people’s shortcomings.
8. To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden, or a redeemed social condition. I am working on leaving the planet a little bit better than when I found it. Primarily by raising my child to be the best version of herself.
9. To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. I will make sure Sophia has breathed easier because I lived.
I am far from being perfect. I have got lots of flaws and traits I need to work on. With his definition, I could say that I am pretty successful. I add one more:
10. To love another human being romantically, with all your heart. The kind of love that makes you want to become a better person. The all consuming can’t-eat-can’t-sleep kind. The can’t-get-your-hands-off-of-each-other passionate kind. I had the fortune of experiencing this kind of love. I would count myself very lucky indeed if I will be given another shot.
Moving forward, this is how I will primarily measure my success. I still got bills to pay and my and my daughter’s future to think about, but I will not obsess over that any longer. I need to remind myself, especially now that I am not doing very well financially, that I am not failing. I am having a difficult time, but working on other things that matter as much as, if not more than, my previous criteria.
This makes me wonder… Is this kind of success easier to achieve than the kind measured by figures. And if it is, and more people becomes successful, should not the world be a lot better supposedly? What do you think is easier to achieve? And more importantly, where is your focus right now? I believe both kind of successes are important, and achievable.
#ToABetterSarah #RaisingSophia #FindingSarah