The other day I had a great lunch catch up with a friend who I also consider to be a personal mentor (and mentorship… there’s another important post to put up!) and he pointed out something fascinating to me, and that is the idea that while we are all striving for success, not many of us are actually striving for our own success. Upon thinking about it I realised that this applied to me massively, and a lot of the changes that I have made recently in my life are my shift from running the success of others to starting to run my own.
Like many children of migrants, my parents struggled massively to get to Australia and to be able to survive once established here. We were not well off when I was a little girl, and I remember that it was pretty tough sometimes to make ends meet. Things got better over the years, but I’m very grateful to have those memories, as they really helped me to understand the true cost and value of things. When life is too comfortable then too much can end up being taken for granted, but I digress…
My parents worked like crazy so that I might have the opportunities that they were not given. Parents, family in general, friends and partners want what is best for an individual – the problem is that everyone has a picture in their head of what this “best” involves, and this may not necessarily be congruent with what that individual actually wants or needs out of life. This can be especially difficult to manage as all of this advice and imposition comes from a good place – from the desire for an individual to be their best. However this can lead to confusion for somebody who has not yet figured out what they want to do or be.
To add a bit more complication, societal norms already provide us with a standard path that is viewed as success, which many choose to follow when unsure of what else to do – get educated, get a job, partner, kids etc. Now I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with this at all. I know many people who have done this and are enormously happy. I myself had a whirl at it and jumped off the path about halfway when I realised that it was making me incredibly unhappy, and that is the point that I’m trying to get across.
I am not promoting rebellion, or trying to be different. I think that the only thing that should matter the most is to strive to be your true self, and that can be as conservative or out there as you wish, but it has to come from within rather than being reliant on external validation. There is a very difficult choice when this arises, as striving for your own definition of success is rarely a smooth journey. Often this means dealing with the emotions of disappointing others, but ultimately fulfilment comes from being in congruence with who you truly are, whatever that may be.