On Letting Go of Success
To round up this week of positivity (and thanks to all for your support over the past few days!), and to precede getting back to our regularly scheduled snarkgramming, I wanted to talk a little about success.
The idea of success – or at least projecting the notion that I was successful – was something that I really, really held in profound esteem inside my head for a long time. And I was able, to some extent, put on the acoutrements of success: I have a long-term relationship with my live-in partner, I have a job that I love and that pays well, and that I have achieved moderate success within, I have money, I have a nice apartment, I’m thin, I have a cat who everyone dies with overwhelment upon seeing.
And don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for those things. But, for a long time, I just wanted to be seen wearing those things as proof of success – accessories that proved that I had Made It in some ineffable way. I didn’t actually care how those things made me feel, but rather, how those things made other people feel about me.
Of course, what I went to great lengths concealing were the stupid agonies I put myself through to maintain that facade of success. The problems with food, the inability to quit work, the stress I would put myself under for no reason to make money that I didn’t need. That morning I stepped in the pile of shit my cat left for me right in front of the fridge and burst into tears. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with working hard for what you want, but I was working hard for stuff that I wanted other people to see, and that just wasn’t making my life better. In fact, in a lot of ways, it made it worse.
So I wanted to make this final post about one of the most positive things I have done for myself recently: letting go of being successful. Now, my OCD ass struggles a lot with that notion, because all I cared about for a long time was control – the control over my own life, and the control over the way other people saw it, the assurance that I could be viewed as a successful human being. But in that, and not to get too cheesy but strap in for some cheddar, team, I found that I wasn’t doing that successful a job at being happy.
Because the things that make me happy aren’t usually the things that I make a point of letting other people see. I’m happy when I see my cat sleeping on the pillow next to my boyfriend in the morning. I’m happy when I write something that means something to someone. I’m happy when I eat enough to sustain my brain to spend time with my brilliant friends, not to make my stomach look flat in a crop top. And I’m happiest when I’m not performing my life for other people, but rather just doing what makes me happy. Which might sound obvious, but let me tell you, to me – that’s been a fucking revelation.
Thanks for hanging out with me over this week of positivity! If you want to check out my other posts – on cats, body positivity, musical theatre, Artemis Fowl, and writing – you can do so at the links above. If you liked this series and want to see more stuff like it, please consider supporting me on Patreon. And think about donating to the Back to School Project, a charitable organisation that my family are involved in to bring improved education access to children across the world. They’re just kickstarted a new project, and it would be brilliant if you could share it or donate!