Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The meaning of success

I know this is dumb, but sometimes I just feel like I am unsuccessful. Maybe I hear about a friend who is going to be travelling; maybe I hear about this great job that just fits in with everything some other friend wants to do. I see other people socializing and having fun in other places...and I'm just back in my old neighborhood. Working on short stories I've barely even tried to publish. (I know, I need to work on that.)

OK. I know I shouldn't whine. I have many reasons to feel successful, and many reasons to feel lucky. Here are a few:

*I work in a museum (which is totally awesome, by the way).
*I am not traveling currently, but that doesn't mean I can't travel in the future.
*I have some wonderful friends, who are very supportive of me--even if they aren't right by.
*I have awesome friends who support my writing.
*I have been able to do some part time writing and editing, both of which are my passions.

When I graduated from high school, a friend of our family gave me a plaque with that whole bit entitled "Success." It's less of a poem and more of a guideline; but then, it's attributed to Emerson, but doesn't seem to necessarily have been written by him. Here's another site. (Is that irony, rearing its twisted head?) In any case--for those who may be feeling the unsuccessful blues--this is for you.

To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.

7 comments:

Dawn Embers said...

I know how you feel. I have a bachelor's degree and soon another associates but often feel unsuccessful. Living at parents' house, turning 26 and no job is a good part of why I feel a bit lame right now. And with writing, I've been at this for over 5 years now but just started doing my first rewrite ever. At times I wish I was further in my life, jobs and family, but I have to remind myself that I have accomplishments. And there is always room for more.

Clarissa Draper said...

I love the second one. This is a great pick-me-up poem. THank you.

CD

Just Another Sarah said...

Dawn--oh, gosh. I'm glad to know I'm not feeling the blues alone. It's so easy to feel the worry and insecurities, isn't it? It is for me. But I'd bet that if someone asked people close to you, they'd totally be like, "Dawn Embers is so totally successful!" And not sound like valley girls. :) PS-I'm turning 25, so we're close in age!

Clarissa--I'm so glad it picked you up! It does me, too. I just have to remember it when I want to sink into despair--usually when looking at the pseudo novel I've been writing forever. It's just such a lovely sentiment--and so true, I think. Thanks for the comment!

Amalia T. said...

Sarah, you are incredible. and I would definitely never think you were unsuccessful-- you seem to excel in everything that you do. But I can definitely identify with the feeling, and I think that we just have to keep reminding each other that we are making things happen!

The most difficult thing, I think, is not comparing ourselves to others when it comes to the definition of success. It isn't always what it appears to be, you know?

Stephanie Thornton said...

I just read Publish This Book by Stephen Markley and he talks about how you have to constantly redefine success. For example, if you're broke, getting any job is success. But if that job totally sucks, then you decide it's not such a success.

I'm jealous about the museum job, BTW! Do you have any Egyptian artifacts? Because then I'd be salivating.

Just Another Sarah said...

Stephanie: Unfortunately, no! I'm more of a classicist myself, but this is in the Midwest. Still, there's some pretty cool stuff here. And we're hoping to get more traveling exhibits in the future, and those would be more worldly. So maybe then.

That is a great point, by the way--redefining success. I may have to read that book.

Just Another Sarah said...

Amalia: Aw--you're so sweet!

Yes! I think you've hit on a very good topic! Not comparing ourselves can be so hard to do, especially when others end up doing things we want to do, or going places we want to go. And you're right--their side of the rainbow may not be as gilt as we might think.