Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Grappling with that erratic creature called Success

Whatever's clever.

I feel like a failure today. Like a Paul Giamatti-style failure in Sideways. Which sucks because I'm usually as effervescent as the other guy in Sideways, his best friend who goes to wine tastings with gum in his mouth and crashes cars to cover up mistakes and has no problem with Merlot or even white zinfandel for that matter.

Now I know I'm not a failure per se, and please don't have a seat at this table telling me I'm amazing because I know I am and I hate pity parties. But sometimes my pensive anxiety brims higher on certain days and today just happens to be one of them. I think the anxiety of an unwritten future is what plants that unsettling seed of self-doubt on my off days. (Do any of you feel like this sometimes??)

Anyway J says to hang in there and that "it comes in waves", this feeling of mine that emerges from being tied to no formal definition of success. And I do hang in there because on other days I feel more successful than I've ever felt before. Like I'm unstoppable, and my potential is endless. On these days, which usually outnumber the bad days, I have no dearth of self-esteem.

It's very much a ying and yang, black and white thing. I guess the real question is what is success (i.e., what is success to me)? And for that matter what is "success" to you reader-friends out there? Perhaps my problem is my definition of success is mercurial -- sometimes it can be enough to have just written a book or two (which I've done); other times it seems success should be more measurable, like in the form of a concrete publishing contract or a big house (neither of which I have).

Nevertheless today has been one of those days and usually a tall, lethally caffeinated cup of coffee can pull me out of said doldrums, but it's not working and now I have to ship out in a few minutes here and deal with annoying little gremlins children. (Can I just say after starting this part-time job that I fear for the future of this country?) Ugh, I'm turning into the Grand High Witch in Roald Dahl's "The Witches."


Mrs. Micah said...

Yep, I fight with that all the time. I'm not yet sure what I think success should be, so some days I can be happy with having done a really good job of something or with the blurry, not-fully-defined prospects for my future. Other times I don't think I'll be successful until I have my MLS and a "real" librarian job. Just having a job I like suddenly isn't a success.

I wish I could more concretely define success or goals right now so that I felt like I had something to judge with. I like concrete things and life seems to be anything but that.

So no, you're not alone.

Linda said...

Constantly, I don't think anyone ever doesn't feel this way.
Either way this blog is an extremly entertaining read, regardless of what emotion you are feeling on what day. Today is an example of this.

the Frugal Ecologist said...

I too am grappling with definitions success, whether to keep on the professional path I have been on (and have gone to school for a loong time for) or to try something new. Thanks for sharing your struggles. (And the part time job sounds rough, a class full of kids is pretty much my nightmare -- I hope they are paying you well!!)

Nicole said...

I know how you feel. Some days I feel great about myself and what I've accomplished. And other days I just don't feel like I've done enough. Good luck!

vilkri said...

Ok, no pity party, but let me tell you about my "running career". I am preparing for a marathon in 8 weeks. Last Tuesday I could not run as well as I normally do, far from it. My legs felt stale. Two days later I had the best run of this training program. How does it happen? Heck, I don't know. All I know is that it happens every time I prepare for a marathon. And somehow I end up running a good marathon. End good, all good, right? - Welcome to the club!

Chloe (Naturally Frugal) said...

Oh boy do I ever feel you on this one. I think J's right though, it does come in waves (and at certain times of the month for me), which is great because you know it will fade but not great because you're still at the bottom of the wave.
Cheer up! You'll get out of this funk. I consider you incredibly successful, writing is no easy feat (as demonstrated by my blog writing) and neither is moving and putting your life into someone else's hands.

paisley penguin said...

Hang in there the weekend is amost here!

Tracy said...

No, you are not alone! I definitely have days where I struggle with whether or not my life is/has been successful to date. Other days I feel like I can do anything I put my mind to! Hang in there!

Kayla said...

I feel you. Some days I am living the life I want, other days I think, why am I still in this job?

I think the trick is to realize it does come in waves and that tomorrow you will feel different.

Thanks for sharing. Nice to know that everyone struggles with this!

Andi said...

It absolutely comes in waves. It's hard when you don't have a quantitative measurement for something (well, I find it is).

It has taken me a while to get to this definition, but to me success is believing in a dream and making it come true. It quite possibly could be monetary, or title related for some (or it used to be for me). But now, I am successful because I took responsibility for my happiness. I made the move to live my dreams.

Just remember when the wave comes where you feel on top of the world, stay there as long as you can. :)

Anonymous said...

I think about this a lot. I know that I have done some wonderful things with my life, but sometimes I just wish I was further down the road.

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