Yeah, I had that moment the other day. A person I went to high school with had just posted pictures of their new baby on Instagram. Adorable baby, I'm very happy for them, but this guy just happens to have been my biggest rival in high school.
Yes, I understand that I graduated 5... cough... 10... cough... 14 years ago, but high school shit sticks in your mind forever, I think. This guy and I were friends throughout school, but we were highly competitive. In fact (little known Tatted Mom fact here), he graduated Valedictorian and I graduated Salutatorian- the difference between our grade point averages being something like .01- yeah, one one hundredth of a point. (Yes, I'm a nerd, thank you.)
My brain started to wander off, thinking back to high school. Then my sobering moment hit.
I was voted Most Likely to Succeed my senior year. Oh, shit. Had I lived up to that most prestigious label? (Ha!)
4 years ago, at my 10 year reunion, I would have said yes. I was a successful tattoo artist, covered in tattoos, looked a hell of a lot better at 28 than I did at 18, and I had shed the awkwardness of a high school nerdy teenager and become a real woman.
But that was 4 years ago. As I stared at my wall, I wondered about my life now. 4 years ago Hubby and I were separated, but I was a successful tattoo artist. No love life, no family, but I had money and a career. Is that what counts as 'successful'? Was I more successful back then than I am now?
Fast forward 4 years to now, and Hubby and I got our heads out of our asses and are doing better than we
ever have before. I have an almost 11 year old and an 8 year old, both who tested in the top of their classes. I'm a writer, with an amazing readership, who crafts and still tattoos and paints and decorates and extreme coupons... who is really happy.
Is that considered 'successful'?
That's when your brain starts to over-work. Instead of thinking, 'Hell YES I'm successful', your brain makes you doubt things. I'm a blogger, not really a writer. I started writing a book that's not quite finished yet. I was a successful tattoo artist who quit to become a stay-at-home-mom again. Sure, I get to tattoo Hubby and my friends, but our money problems could be out of the door if I was a full-time artist again. And yes, I craft and make things, but I could be selling these things to help with money. And I extreme coupon because it's fun as hell but also because we need all of the help we can get, monetarily speaking.
So, what's the definition of 'successful'? Most people equate success with money, and I sure as hell don't have any of that. Other people equate success with the type of job a person has. I'm a college drop out who has been a new age store owner, a manager at Claire's, a tattoo artist and a photographer, but currently is the CEO of a household- not a multi-million dollar business. I have a hell of a lot of amazing stories, but when trying to define success, that and a $1 will get you a candy bar (and not even a king sized one).
Do I consider myself successful? To be honest, it depends on the day. I'm a happy person, very content with my life, but there are some days that I wish I would have stuck with something that would have cemented my success in the eyes of society by now. College or being a tattoo artist or having a best-selling book on the market or being a household name in the blogging community... something.
Which is why I think how the majority of people define success nowadays sucks. Success should be a feeling- a warm fuzzy glow that emits from you because you are happy in your life and are doing what you love, regardless of how much it pays (or doesn't pay, for that matter). Success should be measured by the number of smiles your children make in a day, or by the number of minutes you lay in the arms of your loved one at night. Success should not be measured in dollar signs and fame, or in the string of letters behind your name that describe your job, or in how big your Christmas bonus is.
How screwed up is it that, with no family and no love life, I considered myself more successful 4 years ago because I was a tattoo artist with money than when I initially think of my life now, with a happy marriage, happy kids, a happy me and no big-money-making job? Society has brainwashed me, and it sucks. I should never doubt the success of my life now. Never.
So, starting today, I'm changing the way I look at success. Screw society's emphasis on money and career; I am healthy, happy, have amazing kids, am married to my best friend, and am doing what I love- writing and creating art in many mediums. I'd say that's pretty damn successful.
You should change your mind with me; view success as a hell of a lot more than money and career status. Base success on happiness and laughter and good times with friends and your child bringing home an A on that hard test. Realize that as long as you are achieving your goals, no matter how small, that you, too, were that little nerdy high school girl who was voted Most Likely to Succeed... and accomplished it.