Overcoming the Poison of Society’s “Success”

Overcoming the Poison of Society’s “Success”

In the pursuit of a dream, we will stumble across many “poisons” that attempt to deter us, weaken us, and make us doubt our dream’s capability and legitimacy. Like a physical poison, it’ll work through your system and slowly kill any hope of passion and confidence.

One of those poisons that has haunted me quite a lot is the perceived notion of “success” that is intentionally-unintentionally pushed on us from society. Well, it is half the time, and then the other half is our own self-imposed notion. There’s different factors that we may deem “successful,” and it can slightly differ amongst us, but overall it involves the same concept. And, ultimately, it results in us believing that because our lives don’t match this picture, then we’re not successful.

First of all, this is all this “success” is: a picture. An idea. An ideal imagined by generations of a collective culture that has changed and merged and intersected so much we’ve lost track. So this picture of “success” has changed an insurmountable amount of times. It’s irrelevant. It’s pointless. There’s no need to pay it any attention.

Here are a few things to dwell on:

  • What makes you happy?

Now, if having a certain income or marrying well or climbing the ladder to CEO or becoming famous is what makes you happy, then by all means pursue it! If none of that matters to you, then there’s nothing wrong or different about that. If you’re happy, or at least content, I’d say you’re doing pretty good.

  • Every path is different.

Even when two people are pursuing the same thing, they won’t do it exactly the same way. And both are valid and equally successful.

  • What’s better: satisfied others or satisfied you?

What’s so great about living a life that others demand and being miserable and bitter all the time? I’m sure you’d rather be pleased with yourself. Now, this doesn’t mean you don’t listen to wise and well-meaning advice from those you trust and who know you well, and this doesn’t mean you don’t practice humility and sacrifice (after all, Character comes before dreams). But also don’t forget to listen to your own gut. Even in the midst of presumed certainty, your gut will never lie.

  • Society knows nothing of you.

You know you. Your family and friends know you. What do they say about you? What does your heart say about you?

  • Divert your thoughts when they dwell too long on this “success.”

Thinking too much about this will only make you lose hope and energy. Have a plan to divert your thoughts to something more productive, and something more positive. Choose a subject on which you will habitually think about when your mind starts to wander into darkness (Philippians 4:8-9, “think on these things…”)

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The Falsehood of Being “Behind”

The Falsehood of Being “Behind”

I once stumbled across a post that I saved and shared on social media because it spoke so personally to me:

“Just because you took longer than others, doesn’t mean you failed. Remember that.”

I don’t know who wrote it or where it came from, but I would wholeheartedly give credit to its origin. This was one of those quotes that struck so deep it was like a punch in the stomach. A punch that I very much needed. From high school, I did not do things like my smart, overachieving, well-to-do group of friends. I graduated a year early, took college classes during the summer, did not participate in National Honor Society or other honorable student organizations, went to community college instead of a four-year university directly after graduating, and so forth. Certain motivations like avoiding unbearable student tuition debts as much as possible made me choose this kind of path, as well as circumstances like breaking my back which led me to start online classes out of sheer boredom. There’s also the factor of spending most of my time doing internships practically every semester for the past four years. Needless to say, I have done things a little differently from my peers; from most people my age, I think.

From the moment I graduated high school I have struggled with doubt, regret, jealousy, comparison, shame. I just turned 22, and many other 22-year-olds I know are nearly finished with their Bachelor’s, whereas I am just now, not even yet, on my way towards that same goal. Yes, I have made progress with an Associate’s that gets me a little ahead of the four years, with doing internships that have proven valuable experience and connection. It’s still hard not to think about how I will likely be 25 or 26 when I do get that Bachelor’s, as apposed to old friends already having it before their 21st birthday.

Everyone in my life who is in the loop of my life has repeatedly told me, “Why do you think this? You are only such-and-such years old! You’re still young! You are doing fine! Chill out!” And I imagine those who are older than me are probably rolling their eyes in their mind as they say this. If I step out of my body and rationally observe myself, I have the exact same reaction. Why, indeed? I really do need to chill out.

It all boiled down to personal expectations. I live in this subconscious mindset of age-induced deadlines, of assumed projected standards from others, of living up to a subjective definition of success, according to society.

This idea is “being behind” as if life is some kind of race to compete in is totally, completely, stupidly false. I know this. Doesn’t mean I’ve successfully overcome it, but I’m working on that.

Why is it false?

There are different paths to the same goal.

Your path is different from your peers.

Age is irrelevant. It has nothing to do with achieving dreams.

Your age does not define you or your level of success.

“Success” is a vague term that can have a million definitions according to the individual.

Doing things for the sake of accomplishing certain societal standards is a major waste of energy and passion.

More often than not, the expectations you imagine are from outside pressures are actually your own placed upon yourself.

There is no designated deadline based on timeline, age, or order of goals that says “you failed.”

Accomplishment differs between careers. What makes someone a doctor will be a very different list of goals from what makes someone a filmmaker or an entrepreneur or a childcare provider.

Value of time and energy also differs between careers. It may be more worth it for a musician to spend their time networking while an aspiring vet will spend their time in school.

10 Thoughts you’ll Encounter While Pursuing your Dream

10 Thoughts you’ll Encounter While Pursuing your Dream

As you go about making your dream a reality, there will always be certain thoughts that cross your mind, bringing in doubt, fear, and discouragement. But they’re just thoughts, and we can’t trust our thoughts. Your head likes to mess with you, especially when it comes to the thing you love. These thoughts will likely stumble into your brain at some point, but there’s no need to dwell on them.

  1. “I’m too young.”

1 Timothy 4:12 says, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” So what if you’re still a minor? You should be working on your dream right now. There are dozens of success stories of people 18 or younger achieving amazing things. Age is irrelevant when it comes to achieving dreams.

2. “I’m too old.”

My favorite author C.S. Lewis said, “You’re never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” Did you know he was in his 50s when he wrote the first Narnia novel? And he actually first had conceptual ideas for it back at the age of 16, but he did not begin writing it until much later. Considered his greatest literary achievement, amongst others, that’s an inspiring story. Once again, age is irrelevant to dreams.

3. “I’m running out of time.”

How, exactly? Because you’re growing up? Because you’ve created imaginary deadlines? Because your achievement date doesn’t match that of your peers? No, you’re not running out of time. And you better be pacing yourself.

4. “I took too long.”

I recently came across a post that I then shared on social media because it spoke so personally to me: “Just because you took longer than others, doesn’t mean you failed. Remember that.” Remember that, indeed.

5. “I should have done it like the others.”

No, you are not them. They are not you. Your path is different. Something I always say: “There are many different paths to the same goal.” Just because you’re doing things differently from everyone else doesn’t mean you won’t achieve the same thing. Stop comparing yourself.

6. “I missed my chance.”

Doors open and doors close. They also open again. If you missed something, then something else will come along. It may change up your path a little, but like I said, there are many different paths to the same goal.

7. “I chose wrong.”

If it’s what you love to do, then you did not choose wrong. If you’re basing this off of the monetary success, well, DON’T! If your goal is to make money, well then, I hope you chose a path that made sense for that.

8. “I’m not skilled at this.”

If you’re passionate about it, then you will get good at it. Truly, ability should come naturally with passion, so perhaps you’re just underestimating your skills.

9. “I know nothing.”

Well of course, you’re still learning! That’s what studying is for! This is such a silly notion. If you’re passionate about it, the studying part will just be part of the fun.

10. “What the heck am I doing?”

Oh, we all think this, of everything. At least you’re doing something. So what if you have no idea? You’ll learn by trial and error. There’s no greater teacher. Let this thought slip away and laugh it off.

Bible Devotion: Discouraged or Inspired?

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.

-Psalm 37:7

I don’t just interpret this scripture as fretting when bad things succeed at happening; I imagine this as saying, “don’t fret when others succeed.” We can be moved two different ways when someone is successful: we can be discouraged, or we can be inspired. Which way do you think will get you somewhere?

Outstanding notes from a young adults’ retreat

Two weekends ago I went to a young adults retreat in Dallas, TX with some friends. Anyone familiar with The Potter’s House? Anyway, I enjoyed myself. The messages were fantastic, and here’s just a few outstanding points I caught that made an impact on my thinking:

-It’s not so much a sin issue; it’s a location issue. Sometimes, you’re just not in the right place.

-A curse may actually be a blessing in disguise.

-You will receive the enemy as you perceive him.

-Your struggles can be step stools to the next step.

-When struggles come, wait till they become opportunities.

-Today’s complacency is tomorrow’s captivity.

-There’s a difference between having a vision and living out a dream.

-It doesn’t matter if you see God in the midst of your struggles; it only matters that the enemy sees Him.

-Every story begins with identity.

-The very thing that the enemy built to take you down, you will use to fuel your success.

-One thing you have to learn is to be mobile. Don’t get comfortable.

-God will trust you with a level that will mess you up.

-If you’re being blocked, that means you haven’t tried anything extraordinary.

-If you misunderstand someone’s struggle, you will underestimate their strength.

-It’s not what we don’t have that keeps us stuck. It’s that we don’t know what to do with what we do have.

-The enemy doesn’t care that you go to church or read the Bible. He cares if you learn how to use that word as a weapon.

-You don’t have to be good with much; you just have to be great with one weapon.

-Conflict isn’t your greatest barrier; complacency is.

-You cannot fulfill your calling in your comfort zone.

-The seasons of your greatest development are the seasons of your most diabolical attacks.

-Courage never comes wrapped as certainty.

-Don’t strive to be gifted; strive to be someone of principle.

-Relationship trumps resources.

-You can be successful by yourself, but you cannot be fruitful by yourself.

-You cannot go forward until you develop conflict resolution.

-We are afraid of being vulnerable to people’s unpredictability.

-We hide behind things we can control.

-We are scared of needing someone.

-Are you going to die with your generation, or are you going to die for your generation? In order to save others, you must sacrifice.

-Perhaps you struggle because you do not value where God put you and who he gave you.

 

Do you have any thoughts on these notes?

5 Things that may benefit your dream

5 Things that may benefit your dream

Regardless of what dream you have, there are some things we can all do that will benefit the accomplishment of that dream. Here are few things that you can do that just might help you get a little closer:

  1. Educate yourself. It doesn’t necessarily have to be going to college. With the amount of resources available to us right at our fingertips, you can teach yourself anything. Jump online, read a book, or find an expert, and study up.
  2. Learn a secondary trade. For the sake of becoming more rounded, get good at something other than your dream. Not only will you have something to fall back on, being knowledgeable in other areas opens up more opportunities for you.
  3. Develop your reading and writing skills. Even if your dream job has nothing to do with words of any kind, having good writing skills will always, always be needed, especially in the beginning stages. You’ll be writing lots of stuff to lots of people to land those golden opportunities, so always be developing your skills.
  4. Stay active. I don’t mean physically, although that would also be a very good thing to keep up. I mean socially, economically, culturally, and environmentally. If you find yourself living a circle kind of pattern, find something new to get involved in. It doesn’t have to be longterm. And if you have an idea, act on it. If it fails, move on to a new one.
  5. Do what builds your confidence. If baking cookies makes you feel confident, or shooting hoops, or singing music covers, or critiquing movies, or framing photos, you name it! do it. Confidence will benefit everything about you, not just your dream.

There’s much more you can do to help make your dream a reality. What do you do to achieve your dream?