This week I was talking on social media to a friend that I worked with over a decade ago but have not really talked to since other than via social media. She told me that I was the only friend she knew that has been really successful and achieved a lot.
And that statement took me aback slightly. Me, successful? Was I successful? It made me ponder on how the word successful has so many interpretations, and about how social media can portray us.
On my social media then I have posted a lot over the years when I have worked on lots of amazing projects. My work has allowed me to travel to some absolutely amazing places and countries, with some amazing people, on some amazing projects, events, and shows. I have done things most people could only dream of doing. I graduated from university in a totally unrelated career from what I do now and I followed my heart and veered off onto my own crazy but wonderful path of dreams so I could spend my years doing something I love and getting paid for it. I have so much gratefulness for the wonderful projects and shows I have been able to be a part of. I have so much thanks for my life and all I have achieved.
When you read the above, which is a very true account, my life sounds wonderfully successful doesn’t it. The above is the picture that gets painted on social media, the lovely side of my life that i display to the world.
But beneath the paint it is not so pretty, there are things that do not get flaunted across my social media channels…
That I am middle aged and I do not own a house, I still rent a room in a shared house (though it is a nice warehouse with a training space which makes it somewhat better!). That those lovely jobs don’t always happen constantly, and I can have quiet months without much work at all. That I am not rich, London sucks all my money up pretty quickly. That I am single and childless, I find relationships hard. That in my lovely performing career I have had some very awful horrible things happen to me that i would wish upon no-one.
So am I successful? What even is success?
Do you need a prestigious job, or a house, or a husband, or children, or lots of money, or whatever else to be successful?
Ultimately I think it depends on you, and what makes you happy. You do not need any of the above if they are not what you seek or what you are. You just need enough in life to be able to live a life where you follow your own path, are allowed to be you, and can be happy appreciating what you do have. You define what successful means to you, there is no set description of success that is universal to everybody.
To myself then to have lived a life so far where I have been able to travel my journey, follow my own paths, and despite the setbacks keep on going because a fire burned in my heart to keep doing what I do. To earn my income doing what I love doing. To still be alive and healthy. To keep my mind open and keep learning. To appreciate what I do have. To smile. Then I have been successful. Sure there are aims in life I sometimes wish I had seeked out more, but I learn to be accepting of my situation as it is.
And one of my favourite ‘success’ quotes that resonates well with me:
“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing you will be successful.” Albert Schweitzer