What is True Success?

What is True Success?

Nov 15, 2021

Most days I feel like I'm successful at everything except the things I want to be successful at most.

As an artist, you have to decide what your idea of success is. Is it winning awards? Is it making six figures a year? Is it simply having the free time to create?

But what if you can't meet these goals? Are you still a failure?

I recently watched a movie commentary by Cinema Therapy on the movie, Soul. In this movie, the main character wants more than anything to be a successful musician. What the MCs of Cinema Therapy point out is that the main character is so obsessed with being a musician that he fails to realize how many lives he's touched as a teacher.

I relate to this much harder than I want to.

I always have dreamed of being a successful writer. Always. Ever since I wrote stories in fourth-grade classes instead of listening to the teacher. There's nothing I've pursued harder than writing. But my success hasn't come yet. It still feels like writing fiction is more of my hobby than my destiny; the goal I'm trying to reach is still lightyears away.

The irony? I have a stack of company awards. Not only from my current job, but also from previous jobs. On corporate and national levels. I set new records of awards in my previous company in my department, only having been there a fraction of the time as everyone else. My students praise my classes, even to my supervisors. I get messages all the time from inspiring writers who love my stories.

And yet I still feel like a failure. Perhaps it's ungratefulness. Or blindness. Or pride. But whatever it is, it feels like being successful at everything else is worthless when I'm not successful as an author.

I spent a lot of time thinking about this all week. Am I truly a failure because I don't sell 1000 books a month? Am I truly a failure because I don't have a thick savings account? Am I truly a failure because I don't have the success and fame that I dreamed?

And I've come to two conclusions:

#1 - I need to put in more time

To be an artist, you need patience. Too much, perhaps. But to reach the stars, you have to take your time building the ladder to get them. Overnight success doesn't exist. I can't keep comparing myself to writers that are ten or twenty years deep into their careers. They've earned their place. I need to earn mine.

#2 - I have more success than I realize

There are many artists who are dying inside because they have no opportunities to create their art. They exchange 8-10 hours a day for magic beans, convinced it's what they need to do to survive while their art dies in the corner of their souls.

I, on the other hand, work part-time to keep food in my mouth while having 19 hours a day to create, study, dream, and explore. I have a pile of rough drafts now ready for editing. My art is exploding more than ever. I get to create what I want, when I want.

I may not be a millionaire, have wild fame, or have a drawer of writing awards... but I live each day to the fullest, pursuing my passions and projects however I please. That's more success than some people will ever experience.

In my struggle this week, I've realized what success is.

The best success is to live life to the fullest. That's more than most ever accomplish. To many, that's still just a dream.

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