I had another blog post in mind for this week, but I’ve decided to detour. The reason: there are two very important people in my life that are graduating this year, one from high school and one from college, and I feel the need to dedicate a few words to both of them.
It’s always been interesting for me to observe the differences between how we see ourselves versus how others see us. Both of the ladies for which I’m writing this post have told me, on numerous occasions, that they admire and look up to me, mostly due to my successes thus far in life. However, it came as a shock to me that they would say this since, until a few months ago, I didn’t consider myself to be successful.
So, being the way I am, I had to analyze this discrepancy. What were they seeing that I was missing? Once I got down to it, I realized I had contracted the syndrome of measuring success based on the amount of money I was making. If that were the only factor defining my success, I had absolutely, 100%, completely failed. Crucial work had to be done in order to re-adjust my perspective, as well as my values; otherwise, I would spend the rest of my life feeling miserable.
I got started. I sat down to think about everything I had learned in the last few years, how big and small situations had affected me both positively and negatively, what my attitude was toward life and it’s twists and turns, etc. During this process I realized that, if my analysis were to be efficient, I would have to stop judging myself through the eyes of my own worst critic: me. Unlike me, these two ladies only saw what I put forth, not the hidden, and often cruel, musings of my brain.
In other words, I suddenly understood that others don’t judge us nearly as harshly as we judge ourselves, and this was the most telling discovery of all.
Ultimately, they inspired me to come to terms with the two “versions” of myself. At a high level, here are my takeaways: Success does not depend on money; rather it is a combination of factors, of which my favorite is the attitude we adopt toward our lives and those around us. All hell may be breaking loose outside, we may not be where we had pictured ourselves 5 or 10 years ago, our bank accounts may be lacking, we may not have our ideal jobs just yet, we may feel too young to change the world, there may be many things out of our control… But how calm are we on the inside during these circumstances?
Are we allowing ourselves to experience and feel happiness when it greets us, whether the conditions for it are given spontaneously or are planned? Are we actively seeking ways to embrace and integrate meaningfulness and happiness? If so, I believe we are successful, no matter what we think may be missing.
Why? Because by accepting happiness as it comes and striving to make it meaningful, we are choosing to fully live. If at this precise point in our lives we don’t have absolutely everything figured out, then we’re on the right track. How many people do you know that aren’t struggling with at least one thing? What matters is how we choose to react at each moment, nothing else.
Ladies, as you graduate and take the next big steps in your lives, I would like for you to keep the following in mind:
- Life is beautiful and raw, but painful, and there will be many times when it’s going to hurt more than you could’ve ever imagined. Remember, though: at the end of the day, it’s all going to be OK. Keep repeating this to yourselves until it becomes fully engraved in your minds.
- Success and money are not synonymous and never will be. Does money make your life easier? Yes. Can you have a lot of it and still despise your life? Yes. Strive for balance.
- Attitude is everything. How you choose to see the world is what will define how you relate to everything/everyone around you and how you will ultimately transform it.
- There are no two of you, so please stop comparing yourselves to others. Their stories can serve as inspiration, but nothing else. They have their own paths; you have yours. Find yours, ride with it, give it all you’ve got. You’ll reap the benefits and, in the process, positively influence others around you.
- Your comfort zone is the deathbed of your development. Stay away from it.
- Love yourself for who you are and what you’ve accomplished at every turn. Accept that you can’t physically do everything nor will you ever be able to please everyone. Set your own expectations and hold yourself accountable to your own standards, not those of others.
- Frequently picture yourself at the end of your life. If you were to look back on everything, what would you most regret not having done or said? Set up steps now to get it done or said, before you have time to regret it.
- Powerful, world-changing achievements, no matter how big or small, are within your reach, but do not happen overnight. Just a like a fine wine, they take time, patience, effort, persistence and hard work. They’re worth it, though.
There are many more things I could write, but above all, if you were to only remember one thing, let it be this: LOVE. Love with all your might to the point of tears and success will be yours, because you will be creating and defining it at every step of the way.
N & G: please know how proud I am of both of you, and how inspired I am by the women you’re becoming. I already see how kick-ass you are and I cannot wait to see how much more kick-ass you will become. Now, it’s time the two of you see yourselves through my eyes instead of yours, just like I had to do with myself.
I haven’t regretted it. I know you won’t either. ¡Las amo!
Photo: Concepción Vassallo