Everyone measures their success differently. How do you measure your success? Are you someone who thrives for success in money or are you someone who measures your success through the value of the relationships in your life? Better yet, maybe it is a combination of both?
For me, the definition of success is rather confounded. I know from experience that money does not equal happiness, but I have to admit that the comfort which accompanies financial stability is in essence priceless. However, no matter how much money one has, if you have no one to share it with it, it is (to me) virtually worthless. I have experienced an array of different financial situations throughout my life and I believe this rings true for each of them. From dumpster diving to elaborate vacations, it was always the people around me who made it all worthwhile.
The older I get, the more I find myself redefining what I feel my goals are for achieving true success. The answer to this question seems to be of increasing concern as my time on earth begins to lessen. When I was in my twenties, I measured my success on more of a monetary level. I thought that if I was able to land a job that allowed me to pay my bills with money left over that I would consider myself to be successful. What I learned was that I may have technically achieved success as I had defined it, but I was not happy and shouldn’t happiness be included in the definition of success?
Now in my thirties, I have decided it is time to re-evaluate my goals and formulate a new plan for achieving true success. First things first, let’s talk money! I would still agree that financial stability is a very important piece of the puzzle, but landing just any job won’t cut it. The focus is no longer on finding any job that allows me to save money, but rather making money doing what I love! This is much more difficult to do, but the reward that comes from it would be life changing, so I believe it is well worth the effort. Besides, if I reach the end of my life without reaching this goal I will at least know that I tried and there is a certain amount of comfort in that.
Moving on, as I mentioned earlier, I have found that no matter how much money one has, if you have no one to share it with it, it is (to me) virtually worthless. Before I moved to Colorado, I had a job that I excelled at, enough money to pay my bills and a group of friends that anyone would be lucky to have. From a distance, it would seem that I had everything anyone could ever want. One would have probably labeled me successful.
Maybe to some this is success. Don’t get me wrong I was very thankful to be in the situation that I was, but if I am being honest, the months before I left were some of the most somber moments of my adult life. Why you ask? Because for me the definition of success is not measured in money, it is measured in love. Not just the love you share with your significant other, but the love you have for yourself. At that time in my life I had neither.
In the years prior, I had grown very close to someone whom I considered to be one of my truest friends. From our first moment together, we just clicked. As our friendship progressed, I began to have stronger feelings for him. He was unavailable, so I tucked these feelings deep down inside and pretended they didn’t exist. With each passing year we grew closer and closer until we were spending more time together than not. Partly because we worked alongside one another, but we hung out when we were not working pretty much all the time. The talk around the office for a while was that we were seeing each other. He and I would just laugh it off together as if it were the most ridiculous idea in the world. Little did he know that I made a conscious effort daily not to think of this “ridiculous” idea.
One night at a house party I stepped outside to have a smoke and as I sat there I began to think about the dilemma I was having. There was no way I was going to pursue an unavailable man, but I couldn’t help the way I felt. I couldn’t just stop being friends with him…or could I? As I saw it, I had two choices: Keep the friendship and silently suffer? or End the friendship and try to move on?
It was at that moment when he walked outside and found me sobbing quietly on the stoop. As he started reprimanding me for having a cigarette, he notice the tears rolling down my face and sat down next to me, “What’s wrong?” he asked in a comforting voice.
His inquiry only made it worse, but I knew this was it, it was now or never!
I replied with the only word I could muster, “you”.
A mutual silence followed as we both sat there staring at each other. I could tell in that moment there was no need to explain; he knew.
Breaking the silence, I said “I’m sorry…I didn’t plan to feel this way, but ever since…”
He interrupted me, “That night…I know. If I wasn’t with…” he paused. “it’s just really bad timing.”
The sadness in his voice partnered with the connection I felt to him in this moment was all the convincing I needed not to walk away. Subconsciously, it may have been the tiny glimmer of hope that it would all work out or the comfort in knowing might feel the same way. Whatever it was, it caused me to make the wrong decision. Had I known then what I know now I would have walked away long before this conversation ever occurred.
As the years loomed on, we continued much as we had. Only now there was a giant elephant in the room that no one talked about. It didn’t affect our friendship. If anything we grew closer. Innocently, I thought this was due to the “connection” we had, but I later found out that I was just being played.
I am ashamed to admit that because of my feelings for him, I allowed him to manipulate me in to acting in a way that I am not proud of. In trying to be someone I was not, I lost myself. I was oblivious to the reality of our relationship and the harsh truth that I was being used. I was a fool. When the final stab in the back came, it was truly heartbreaking. Turns out it was all a lie. He tossed our friendship aside as if it had meant nothing to him. I meant nothing to him. I was completely blindsided. I had always known there was a very good chance that we would never end up together, but I would have never thought he was being dishonest about how much he valued our friendship. At that point, I had already made the decision to move to Colorado and this event only reaffirmed that it was time to move on.
I share this story with you because it has great significance in my personal redefinition of success. Somewhere along the way I let my love for someone get in the way of loving myself. I fell prey to false hope and it left me discouraged and lost. There is no way to find your true path if you can’t begin to find yourself. As I do with every hardship in my life, I have found a silver lining to this heartbreak. It has made me aware that I still have some healing to do before I am ready to love someone else. Somewhere inside this insecure mind is a strong willful woman begging to be free. I need to learn to love myself before I will ever be able to truly love another. Therefore I am closed for remodeling as I like to say…new and improved me coming soon!
I hope you enjoyed. Thanks for reading!