You know how you get to a certain age and everyone starts telling you that building a career is the height of success? We are told at every corner to study hard, get a degree, and be on our grind until we finally land our dream jobs, reach our financial goals (whatever that is) and metaphorically, "arrive" at #boss status.
But, what happens when what we've been told our whole lives is wrong?
What happens when you say all the right things, do all the right things, strive for all the right things, and then you finally land your dream job, reach the pinnacle of "success", and it royally....SUCKS. And I don't mean the regular "ugh I don't want to get out of bed, I'd rather be napping" sucks, I mean pure, unadulterated, "I'd rather rip my own fingernails off than be here" sucks.
What happens when everything you've worked for ends up being nothing you wanted?
Since starting my current job , I've encountered many #bosses, and there is only one word I can use to describe them: Astounding.
I mean, these people have Master's degrees, PhD's, and overwhelming years of experience cultivating extraordinary careers. These are some of the smartest, most qualified people I've ever met and they have worked their butts off to get to where they are.
I have been nothing short of impressed by them.
Every day since I started, I'd see these people and think "Wow! I want to be you when I grow up" and every time I had a bad day at work, I'd run to the washroom, look in the mirror and say to myself "What would they do? Would they sit here crying over this small thing? Get it together girl, you're on the path to success," ---- then I'd just force myself to keep going.
I was doing this at least once a week, every month, for about a year
...until one day, I was sitting down for lunch with my #girlboss hero and I noticed she looked a little sad. Naturally, I asked what was wrong and her answer shook me to my core.
She said, "I hate my job.." My eyes fluttered in disbelief. She was at the absolute TOP of her game. She was vice president of her department, had racked up a pretty hefty salary, and was one of the most respected people in our office. Her achievements were a mile long and here she was on the verge of tears because she was miserable.
We talked for a while and at the end I just had to ask, "Why not quit?" She stared at me for a long moment and sighed: "It's because I'm afraid I'd be a failure..."
That one hit me like a ton of bricks. It was a feeling I knew all to well. A feeling I woke up to, went to sleep to; a feeling that quietly vibrated through my body like a dull ache - not always painful; but, somehow always there.
I'm afraid I'd be a failure...
She continued..."It's like there's this imaginary level of 'success' we all strive for, but somehow I feel like no matter what I do I can't achieve it". I opened my mouth to speak but I couldn't say anything comforting. I knew exactly what she was talking about. It's like we ALWAYS need more. Someone is always doing better than us, or has more than us and we're constantly fighting to level up.
It's the reason I'm considering getting my Master's even though the thought of going back to University makes me physically ill. It's the reason I still tell people I want to be a university professor and I'm planning to go back to do my PhD, even though I know full well that's the last thing I want to do. It's the reason when I hear about what my friends are accomplishing, no matter how happy I am for them, I still feel a pang of sorrow for myself because I'm not doing the same things.
But why is that? Why are we constantly in a race with everyone around us to make sure we're not the ones in last place.
Why do we stick with this pre-conceived formula for success because we feel like any deviation from that equals failure?
I left that conversation feeling rattled; but, also strangely optimistic. Not because she was sad; but, because I wasn't alone. The feelings I had been battling with every day were no longer something to be ashamed of. I realized that it's OKAY! It's okay to hate a job, to change career paths, to not have 4 degrees hanging on the wall for everyone else BUT me to be proud of. It's okay to deviate from the life plan I've had since I was 16 and start completely over.
We all have this picture perfect idea of "success" - It's projected on us.
It's money, a nice house, a nice car, a secure future, a career. Sometimes, it's a family, a long-term partner or just someone to love. We put timelines on our lives like: meet a nice guy in college, date for 4 years, have a career and be financially stable by 28, get married and have kids by 30, buy a house by 35, travel to every continent at least twice, and retire by 60. We plan out every detail of our lives to match this vision that's sold to us but then leave virtually no time to actually LIVE. We leave no time to understand what we truly want. The thing is, as much as we rationalize why we do it, at the end of the day, the things we think we want and should have, aren't mutually exclusive to the things we ACTUALLY want OR need.
We grow and change and become new people every day! Our desires, and our needs change with who we become; and sometimes, those little measures of "success" we put in place, are the things that take us further away from achieving actual success for ourselves.
That day, I realized that someone I wanted to shape my life after, actually felt like a failure. No matter how "successful" she seemed to me, to herself, she wasn't living her truth. She hadn't achieved anything she truly wanted -- and to her, that was the biggest failure of all.
From this, I learned that "success" cannot be defined. It can't be measured or narrowed down into some neat formula, packaged and ready for the world to sell us, because it's completely subjective. It's personal and ultimately based ONLY on what matters to you as an individual.
So today, if you are struggling with achieving "success", we're gonna tell you what people don't... it's okay!
Use this moment, and re-assess what you want, then strive for just that. If you hate your job, start looking for something new! If you want to start your blog, start writing! If you have a dream, forget about what everyone else is doing or telling you, just pursue it!
We are the authors of our own fate, and no one can write our stories but us. So, go ahead and create your OWN measures for success then achieve it -- because you are the only one that determines your future!
Start today and live your very own #Champlife.