*originally written March 1, 2013
I've been struggling with how to define success. I have human goals of being happy and content with my life. I want to be able to support myself. But I feel this overriding pressure that I should be willing to do anything to be successful, even if it means sacrificing myself.
In school I was taught success is having a stable and steady job, a house with a white picket fence in the suburbs and 2 kids, a boy and a girl. To be successful you need to be active and be productive I was told. Being productive meant going to an office and sitting at a desk working a set number of hours and coming home. Now there is nothing wrong with this American dream but why is it the only dream?
Nowhere in my list of success is stuff. I really value the intangibles of life. I love having amazing conversations with people. I love traveling to new places. I love the feeling of pride I get when I do something I didn't think I could accomplish or the calm peace when I finish editing a video or a painting. These are the things that make me happy, not a house with a white picket fence. My successful is being happy and creatively fulfilled with my life. It means not feeling stuck in one career but permeating many careers to support myself. It means being my own boss and having the ability to walk away. As an artist, my productive is watching films and browsing the internet and thinking and writing. My productive is talking with friends and reading a book because you never know when inspiration will hit.
As I'm embarking on this journey where I make the rules, I feel judged by the outside world and I sometimes feel guilty. I have a difficult time articulating to "adults" what it is that I want for myself, especially since it is not the usual answer. I feel judged when I say I don't want one full-time job but many part time jobs. I feel judged when I say I don't want to choose one industry because I love too many things to choose. I feel judged when I say I plan on moving to Europe and the overwhelming response is to undermine my feelings about this city I've lived in and loathed all of my life. And finally, I feel guilty because I know how much easier it would be if I could just be a doctor or a lawyer, a stable and respected career path. It would be so much easier to say that my $200,000 sheet of paper will gain me employment. It would be so much easier if I did what is expected, but I can't do what's expected, I must to do what's right for me.