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…”)

Advertisements
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.

What I’ve Learned About my Battles

What I’ve Learned About my Battles

For the first post of the year, I’m going to get personal. I want to share some inner battles of mine that perhaps you are also facing, or can at least relate to, for which you can receive some inspiration, encouragement, or wisdom.

These four battles have either been longterm ones that maintained their status as the most trying battles throughout my life, or have just begun their onslaught. They are all battles I’m still facing today. Among the many different kinds I’ve faced, or am facing, these have stood out as the most resilient (but no less beatable!)

  1. Anxiety

Once upon a time I used to think anxiety wasn’t a legitimate mental problem. Then I experienced it for myself, and realized that it’s the real deal. The toughest part is the physical affect it has on me. It’s amazing how a problem that’s entirely in the mind has such power over your body and health. I’ve experienced drastic panic attacks that caused me to faint, and I’ve experienced the very subtle yet nagging symptoms like chronic nausea and inability to sleep soundly. Of course, though, I would really just like to be at peace in my mind for once.

What have I learned about it?

Anxiety is a heightened, severe version of worry. It’s gone past feeling concern for the future. It’s feeling straight up fear. So when we fight it, we have to treat it as fear. You know what we do with fears? We face them. Sometimes the best way to fight anxiety is to charge in to the very thing we’re anxious about.

For the physical symptoms, there’s a few things that can do some serious help:

  • exercise
  • healthy diet
  • taking vitamins
  • yoga and meditation
  • drinking plenty of water
  • herbal tea

Counseling, spending time with friends, reading, and partaking in a hobby have all proven, at least to me, that they can really help one deal with chronic anxiety.

2. Shame

This was no longer an issue of shyness or social awkwardness. I eventually realized that a lot of my social behavior stems from embarrassment of merely being in public! I act (and think) as if I am less than everyone around me, that I’m no good, useless, pointless, without purpose…and then I become consumed with shame.

And yes, sometimes, this feeling produced thoughts of suicide.

What have I learned about it?

This shame is an absolute, genuine, unadulterated LIE. I never needed another person to tell me that. I knew it for myself. Yet, I still let it hang around. That usually created this horrendous cycle of shame (“I’m ashamed that I feel ashamed”). How do I fight it? I recount the things I’m good at, the people who love me, and what I’m passionate about. I remind myself that I’m good at such-and-such, that so-and-so loves me without condition and has proven it, and that there’s somewhere I’m willing to make a difference: I am good, I am not alone, and I have a purpose.

3. Self-pity

Self-pity is a very dangerous game to play. Let it latch itself onto your heart, and suddenly you’re impossible to please, you’re bitter, you’re hateful, you’re narrow-minded, you’re unbearably selfish, and you’re a wet blanket. Basically, you become the kind of person no one wants to be around. It’s not too hard to wonder why.

My battle with self-pity became so bad that it reached the point where God had to convict me. Hard. It was destroying me. It is destroying me. It’s proven to be one near-impossible root to pull out. I let it become a part of me. I let it manifest itself in my everyday behavior and thought pattern. I have come to detest the person I am when I operate in self-pity.

What have I learned about it?

Self-pity goes hand in hand with clinical depression. Does this mean I’ve been depressed? Maybe. It puts blinders on our eyes that only lets us see ourselves. We’re the only ones we can possibly think about. How horrible is that? So you know what I do to fight it? I force myself to think about those in worse situations than me, like those with a terminal illness. Compared to them, I have no right to victimize myself. It quickly snaps me back into right thinking. With how deep self-pity has dug itself, it’s practically every other minute of my life. But I fight on. If there’s one thing I refuse to become, it’s a self-pitying wretch.

4. Jealousy/Comparing to others

I did not know that I had a deep-rooted issue of living in people’s shadows until the day I went up for prayer back in youth group. I had no clue what I needed prayer for, I only knew that I needed prayer and I was too compelled to stay back. Then the youth pastor began praying, and she prayed…that I stop living in my older siblings’ shadow. It shocked me so hard that my eyes shot open and I reeled just a little. That was an extremely emotional moment. It was like a glass had shattered and a light came on all at once.

That day I discovered that I struggled with being jealous and comparing myself to others.

I particularly compare myself to those more successful than me. Sadly, in my mind, that ends up being everyone! I make up some reason of why anyone and everyone is better than me. I secretly, and guiltily, desire for their success, desire to do what they did to get it…desire to get it faster. The end result is a dissatisfaction with myself, with where I’m at in life, and with what I’ve accomplished. I’ve even been so bad as to be dissatisfied with my current age. That’s when it’s just stupid and crazy.

What have I learned about it?

First of all, comparing is a big, fat waste of energy. Being jealous just makes you an unhappy cynic. The best treatment method? Thankfulness, thankfulness, thankfulness. I fight by replacing thoughts of jealousy and comparison with finding something to be thankful for. I don’t always succeed. I don’t always fail. So I’m making progress.

 

Do any of these sound familiar? Relatable? It’s okay. It’s normal. It’s human. Every kind of battle is capable of being fought and won. They each take different strategies and levels of action, but they’re all the same. You can do it, just like I can.

As a Writer…What can you do?

As a Writer…What can you do?

As a writer, the following thoughts constantly cross my mind. Do they cross yours? Not to toot our own horns, but writers have a pretty tough and powerful job. We make history, you know. We create worlds. We change lives with a few words. And we have our nagging doubts.

As a writer…you worry about getting a writing job.

The great thing about writing is that even if you’re not doing it for a living at the moment, you can still do it. Just keep writing, and use the non-writing job as an opportunity to gain experience and inspiration for your writing. And hey, if it’s an easy job with a minimal schedule, more time to write!

As a writer…you worry about getting the right job.

Just as I don’t believe that there is someone who is “the one,” (don’t beat me up about that now) I don’t believe there is a job that is “the one.” If an opportunity arrises, take it. Every position, however long you have it, provides some kind of substance that you take with you, even if it is an unpleasant job. Rather than try to determine if a job is the right job, look at it as simply a valuable experience that you can develop from.

As a writer…you keep thinking “I can do better.”

This kind of thinking is a weakness which is also a strength, and vise versa. It’s good to believe that you can do better; it will motivate you. But it’s important to keep this thinking and its effect in check, else it will quickly do the opposite. If you begin to notice that this thinking is causing you to doubt and give up, stop it in its tracks right there. Find better, healthier motivations.

As a writer…you can’t pinpoint your craft.

You’ve heard the question. When you tell people you’re a writer, they ask, “Oh, what do you write?” And you don’t know what to answer. Right now you dabble in different genres and formats. That’s great! You’re a writer; you’re not required to pick a genre. But I completely understand that you want to know what your style is. Well, just keep writing, and pay attention to yourself. What kind of story do your thoughts habitually drift to? And perhaps the biggest hint of your style is what you read. If your reading taste is mystery or fantasy or young adult or nonfiction, more than likely that’s your writing taste.

As a writer…you sometimes obsess about numbers.

I’m guilty of this, counting the number of people following my blog, or the amount of minutes I write each day, or the number of words in my novel. But I’m a writer. I work with words, not numbers. Numbers should not be our business, at least not obsessively. And, whatever you do, be careful of counting that one certain number that can really mess with you…money :-).

As a writer…you wonder what you accomplish with writing.

Any artist questions why they do what they do from time to time. An artistic career doesn’t often have tangible, spreadsheet results that one can share. The result of an artistic career is the creation of art, and art is something that the world cannot do without. Maybe to survive, but not to live. Whenever I question if my writing is accomplishing anything, I remind myself that what I am accomplishing is making art, which people need to live. And writing is a very powerful outlet. You can change thoughts, opinions, or decisions with what you write. Just think of that.

As a writer…you question your editing ability.

If you think your editing skills can improve, then there’s no harm in improving them! Read books, research web articles, take a class, interview an editor, whatever! A writer can always improve their skills, especially with editing. What also helps me is reading with a critic’s mind. Reread one of your favorite novels with the mind of an editor, seeing what makes it good and what could make it better. For now, if you want some good editing done on your writing, ask someone else to critique it for you. That’s what professional editors are for!

As a writer…you think you don’t read enough.

You cannot be a writer without being a reader. But luckily those of us who want to write have a natural draw and love of reading. Things like our life schedules can make it difficult to make time to read, or, if we are little more honest, the intrusion of cell phones and Netflix turns us into lazy butts. Just like what I learned with everything else in my life that I want to be doing, you have to make it a priority. Treat it as much of a demanding aspect as going to work. After all, it has its rewards. If you want to read more, then you have to discipline yourself to read more. Be patient with yourself. The point of discipline is trial and error. Let the desire to be a better writer motivate you.

A Poem A Day #509

I Wrote Today

I wrote today,
Only thirty minutes.
It was about silly things,
Trivial things,
Matters of the heart
And matters concerning doubt.
I wrote today
Because I was angry.
I wondered why
I could not write more,
Why it hurt so much
To put words to thoughts.
I wrote today
About why the world
Was as it is.
Couldn’t it be better?
Must the thing I love the most
Be the hardest to create?
How my heart ached.
I wrote today
To numb the pain,
Unaware that I only made more.
Words were pain;
Words were also delight.
While my heart burned inside,
It also soared.
So I wrote today,
Because it’s what I do best.
Though everything hurt,
I wrote anyway.

By Catherine Joy

A Poem A Day #351

The Person I Want to Be

When you know who you are,
It helps to know what you were.
It helps to remember who you know less
And with whom you’re closer.
I recall my false moves
And terribly stupid thoughts.
I’m reminded of funny stories
And the fights I fought.
I look at myself today,
And almost miss the old me.
Then I laugh in my own face,
Because now is the person I want to be.

By Catherine Joy