Today is my birthday. You really do care less and less as you get older aye. Today I turn 43.
When. Did. THAT. Happen?
I don’t have an issue with getting older. I don’t mind it, and I have been blessed with some good genes so that most people think I’m younger than I am.
But, to be honest, the thing I do have a bit of an issue with is being older but still being at the stage of life that most people in their 20s or (at best) their 30s are at.
My expectation of ‘success’ is that at 43 you’re married with kids, you own your own home and investment properties, you’re in a managerial (or executive) position, you have a boat/jet ski/cars or whatever other toys are important to you, retirement investments are more than just the inheritance you’re hoping to get when your parents pass away.
I have none of that, except I’m married, of course. (And that just happens to be to the most wonderful human being ever put on this planet. Who fits me like the proverbial glove, and makes up for any other shortcomings I may have in my life. Just FYI.)
But that’s it. In every other aspect of my definition of success; I’m one big, fat failure.
And then your primary school decides to have its 50th Jubilee celebration and you get to see the people you haven’t seen for 30 years.
Oh great. :-/
I will admit. I was in a bit of a panic. Worried that my old classmates would judge me, and see me as a failure. I worried that I’m not rich, I’m not in an executive position at my job, I’m not important enough to travel frequently with my work, I don’t have a nice, big house, I don’t have the happy little family, I don’t wear fancy clothes, shit… I’m 30 kilos overweight!
And yet, I really wanted to see them. The last two years of my primary schooling (11-12 years old) were fantastic. We had a wonderful teacher, and even at that young age we all somehow knew that we had a really good connection, and that it would be worth keeping these friendships alive. But we didn’t.
Most of my classmates all went to the same high school but I opted to follow my older sister to a school outside of our zone.
And we lost touch.
And then thirty years just disappeared!
So yeah, I was worried about meeting up with them after such a long time.
But of course, things don’t always work out as bad as you thought. And sometimes, they just work out better. So much better.
Here’s the thing, we all have very different ideas of what it means to be successful. The person who has all the material wealth that ‘I’ define as success, may have a marriage that is crumbling… and they look at your happy marriage and know that if they just had that, their life would be perfect. The person who is healthy, fit, slim and active, may just have a business idea in them that is dying, and they’re desperately sad that they can’t make a success of their business.
And by the same token, the person who has ‘everything’ (family, wealth, health etc), the only thing in their life that they deem as successful… is that every day their teenage son comes home from school, hugs his mum and tells her all about his day.
The point is: everyone has their own definition of success. It would have been a sad weekend if I’d allowed myself to be swayed by my own definition. The girls I reconnected with… I don’t even know how much of the ‘success’ bit they’ve achieved; but what I do know is this: we laughed, and danced, and drank, and sang, and reminisced, and felt. We felt each others pains, and joys. And we loved.
At the end of the weekend, I think we all left with the feeling that it had been an overwhelming success. Next gatherings have been booked, Facebook friends made and we’ve all left with a determination to continue re-kindling these friendships and finding the others that made our memorable class.
I realised that the married/kids/house/executive/investments was what I thought was the worlds definition of success. Maybe it is. But even so, why do I have to be limited to that definition? My definition of success, and what I’m working towards now, is a life where I don’t have to go to a job. But that I have a business that provides some form of value to the world, and for which I get paid. And that whatever work I do makes me feel fulfilled and valued. Important even. Success is being able to travel the world, spend time with my family and friends, and to look after my loved ones. I’m still a big, fat failure by my own definition of success. But the point is, my definition is probably VERY different to my old school friends. And that’s okay.
[You may have thought this blog post was going to tell you how we’re all successful because success is about what’s inside. As long you have a good heart, you’re kind and generous, then that’s the true definition of success. Whatevs. MY definition involves money, travel and not having to work at a job. All that heart stuff is just the basics of being a human being IMHO]
What’s your definition of success?