I don’t know.
I can tell you lots of different things that I’ve done that have influenced other people’s lives for the better, but sadly the way that success seems to be measured is in the large achievements, the visible representations of ourselves. In job titles and financial worth. Things that don’t need to be explained but seem to speak for themselves.
If you look at it you could see a series of failures; failed marriage, failed business, failed financially. Nearly 40, no current career, no secure relationship and no secure finances. Good job me.
But if you look closely what might you see? Hundreds of thousands of pounds raised for charity during a career as a fundraiser, individuals I taught to scuba dive and giving them an experience that for some was life-changing. Being a role model, a woman in a mans world, holding my own and doing a good job.
A parent to a child that is regularly described as delightful by the people that know her.
A writer who’s words move people and that organised a conference that inspired people to write and that brought more than one individual together with a publisher. Someone that sews and creates small pieces of joy for people or helps them fix a problem.
And yet even for me these things don’t seem to add up to success. It would be untrue to put all the blame on the breach in my life of my husband leaving me; the feelings of not being good enough, of being left. All the more enormous because in leaving me he was sacrificing an ongoing relationship with his child. How bad can one person be for another to do that? Which of course isn’t a true representation; there were two of us in the relationship, both at fault and under extreme duress, both to blame but understandably so.
So do I go further back? Where do I look to find the root of the feeling that I need to be “important” and where do I look now for feedback to know that I am “important” still? Why don’t I value the importance of my parenting more, why isn’t that enough? Why don’t all those small, not insignificant successes add up to some big sign that people can see?
Why do I feel that I need someone to prove to me that I am important to them? When did that bit of me go missing? Or does everyone feel like that? Was it being told that I could be anything or do anything I wanted in life when all I really wanted was to be popular, but in failing to work out how to do that I had to work to like being myself, crafting my corner of the world. And maybe that’s where I’m at, I’ve spent my life crafting me and my corner but it still doesn’t match up to the model of success that the world seems to expect. It is as if I’ve taken a sewing pattern, customised it to be unique and now I’m disappointed that it doesn’t look like the photograph on the pattern envelope. An impossible task and instead of seeing the wonderful, unique thing I’ve created I just see where it doesn’t fit the standard.
Feeling like this makes me feel selfish and ungrateful, as if in wanting to fit a different mould I’m negating all the friends and family that I have that like me in this one. It is a strange place to be. To know all my achievements but to also know they’ve flowed past with time, life has moved on. Will there be a time when I stop trying to prove myself to me?
I’m not sure how to close this post, someone asked me this weekend “what do you want” and my answer was “to feel important” and actually what I realise I meant was “to feel important to someone that is important to me every day.”
I guess I’m saying I’m lonely and lonely isn’t a success.
Photo credit ~ Mela via stock.xchnge