As I mentioned in my last post on walking the well-defined path in life, I’ve been pretty good at finding success along the way. I got good grades, went to a top university, worked my way up the ladder in prestigious law firms, and made a lot of money for my age. My concept of success has always been based on what other people thought. I was happy when I achieved success. But in many cases, that happiness was short lived. True happiness is deeper than the veneer of basking in the temporary glow of what others think about you — it requires being true to yourself.
As I continue on my current journey, my past successes will start to fade to black. And as I am no longer on the traditional path to success, I should not expect further accomplishments of that nature. I cannot continue to rest on these types of accomplishments to sustain my self esteem. Nor should I, because part of the point of changing paths is to effectuate a paradigm shift in my life. I refuse to be like the 40-year old who lived his glory days as a popular kid in high school. I need to completely revamp the way I think about myself.
This will be a tough challenge. First of all, I feel like society is against me. I’m now someone who is actively opting out of the “American Dream.” I’m one of those losers who isn’t even counted in the denominator of unemployment statistics. Less than a month into our travels, my parents are already asking if I’ve found what I’m looking for and if I’ve thought about going back to the firm. I need to put on my blinders to all of this noise and listen to my inner voice. But at this point, my inner voice doesn’t quite know what to say…
What are the metrics for success when you take away money, job, title, possessions, etc.? Not a whole lot since success really is defined by what others think about you. Since everyone is programmed by society in basically the same way, they are going to judge by the only metrics they know how.
Maybe the bottom line is success should be irrelevant to my self esteem. Success is a distraction, as at the end of the day it goes back to what other people think about you. What matters is what I think about myself. I will think more highly of myself if I’m engaged and doing things I care about and taking care of the people I care about. Indeed, I’ve found myself admiring people who were simply pursuing their passions and listening to their inner voice. Maybe I was admiring them simply because I was not capable of doing that at the time, but I think it was more than that. I think it was because I knew on a subconscious level that they were living their lives to the fullest and that is all that anyone can ask for in this lifetime.