Success. This subject has been on my mind for quite some time.
But let me ask you first: Do you also sometimes get hate mails in response to your posts? While I haven’t received any on my English blog (yet), I did get a couple on my German blog. Which makes me think: Geez, Germans, relax! But no, Germans are not famous for being relaxed, and if I daresay so: apparently also not for having a great sense of humour. OK, OK, I get it, my sense of humour is not for everybody, but that’s life. Very often I read something or see something on TV and think: “Not my cup of tea”, however, I never write those guts hating, fire and brimstone breathing emails. Not only because I am too lazy, but mostly because I just decide to switch off.
Anyway. So this person commented on my post about Mexican driving and how much I loved it. Funny thing, huh? I really meant it this time, but this poor person had probably already been so confused by my sarcasm that he or she burst out in tears. (I somehow believe it was a woman, so let’s stick with “she” to make it easier.)
She claimed that I was scum and didn’t deserve being called a human being, that my writing made her sick and that I should go to hell. Well, nothing special, she probably copied that from some courtroom show – they have some really bad ones in Germany. This whole incident was rather laughable. However, she also got me inspired – and I believe she would really hate that if only she knew!
She told me that I was too stupid to find a job (funny, I wonder whether she tells this to her children’s teachers as well!) and just spent my husband’s money (nothing wrong with that, is there?) and that I had accomplished nothing in my life and was a total failure. Apart from the fact that it is funny how someone apparently gets to know your whole life by reading a little blog, that got me thinking about accomplishments and success. What is success? What does a successful life look like? Is it all about a career? If so, I would have to say, yes, I have been successful, I have reached every single goal I had set for myself, and I enjoyed (almost) every step of it. But then I gave up my career for my husband who seemed the bigger priority all of a sudden. Now I am not pursuing a career anymore, but I have a job that is fun and keeps me mentally challenged. If someone had asked me 5 years ago whether I was successful, I would have said yes and pointed out my professional achievements. If someone today asked me, I wouldn’t think of my professional life anymore. Priorities in life can change, for me they have. Maybe they will change again in the future, who knows. For me, also the definition of success has changed.
Let me give you two examples:
A friend of mine studied very, very hard, and it paid off. He landed a very well paid job right after university, he has lived in many different countries, and he clearly is well off. However, he claims to be lonely. Although he is very good looking, smart as a whip, funny and (at times) charming, he always tenses up around women. That’s why we were rather surprised to hear a few years ago that he had got married. After a couple of years, though, his wife left him for he wouldn’t really let her in but kept her (emotionally) at a safe distance. He felt very sad and helpless after the divorce, and has been single since for he can’t find a woman who is right for him. Now, does he lead a successful life because he has a good job and is loaded? Is loneliness just the price we pay for success? Or are there other ways to be successful?
Another friend of mine had been pursuing a career in the fashion industry. She was always the very pretty, very chic, very smart one, and we were having a blast at countless parties. It came as a surprise when she lost her heart to a man on a different continent, gave up everything, moved to a far-away country to not only be with him, but also to have 3 children with him. They are both running their own language school, but things were tough and they still just make enough money to cover the costs of everyday life. Clearly, she would have been more successful in her previous profession, and she would have worn more Prada and Gucci in her life, but when I see pictures of her and her family, she is always beaming, and I keep thinking that her life has been a success through and through.
I believe that success is very subjective and not measurable by anything but by everybody him/herself. There is no right or wrong, everybody has to decide where his/her priorities lie. And again, that might change from time to time. To me, successful people are those who listen to their hearts, who follow their dreams and do not regret the choices they made, even when going through a rough patch (and we all have those).
What about you? Do you feel successful and if so, why? How would you define success?