To the Next 5 Years
Everyone wants to succeed.
Sometimes I am not entirely sure if I do.
This notion comes up for me often. I look around and like any other human compare my experience to others. I compare failures, needs, and successes. Not all the time, mind you, I keep most of my shit sacred. But I observe how we are all driven by the need to succeed. Maybe that's just in the USA. But it is something that has always bothered me. And I find myself asking
Can't the process just be enough? Is something deemed successful simply because of it's end result?
I find that the process is actually more rewarding than the success that follows. The process is the build up. It's exciting and enticing and full of anticipation. It is where you get to fail and get up. Where you get to learn and play. The process makes you. The success can break you.
Here's how I have come to believe this. Last week, I had racked up enough success in just one month that sort of had my head spinning. I accomplished, worked hard, and saw the results flock to me like a success totem. And what did I do? I barely felt it then went on a four day long celebration spree. Don't get me wrong, I didn't fly off the handles or anything. But it took me a few days to acknowledge that I was actually sort of running away from my success. I am used to getting what I want. I'll be honest about this. I am a do-er and I go after the things I desire. Usually, this results in me acquiring what I set my sites on. If I don't, I trust it isn't meant to be or that I had more to learn. So imagine my small surprise when most everything I put myself into this past month came into fruition...and worked out! It doesn't often happen for me that way! I have had a tendency not to see things through...I enjoy the process so much that I don't really focus on the end result. And it's because of one brutal truth.
I believe I am scared of success.
I am scared that once you reach a certain level, the pressure and the endurance it takes to stay there can be draining. It can take away from all the things in life I cherish. It can advance you in ways past the people around you that become unknowingly tense. But then I had to accept something about this notion. If I am so scared of success...I must be pretty capable of it. If I didn't fear it, I probably wouldn't believe it was something in my grasp. Something real. Success opens doors. It advances you in life to experience more things. It provides a platform and a respect that warrants change. All of these things I want. I need.
So as I sat in bed during my mental health day, it dawned on me that I had been running. That the success scared me silly and I ran from it. Then this nagging draining feeling crept in, warning me that it would be way to easy to drop all my creative goals and all my hard work and just loaf for awhile. Heck, I could pick up again when I wanted right?!
It finally hit me. This is all a part of the tour. All a part of the changes I promised to myself I would make this year. I am not ready to throw the towel in on my resolutions. I am not ready to revert back to what is comfortable. I am going to push through. I trust that the timing is working in my favor. I know everything is happening a little too fast. I now finally understand both Jamie and Cathy's side of things (yes, I finally watched The Last Five Years...and only cried 4 times) . If you haven't seen this musical/movie, it's ok. But for the sake of synchronicity, I will divulge that there is a part in this musical where the male lead Jamie lands a book deal and an epic new romantic relationship all by 23. He is ecstatic and elated over his sudden success and by nature of a musical, decides to sing his feelings:
I just expected it ten years later
I've got a singular impression
Things are moving too fast
And you say, "Oh, no
Step on the brakes
Do whatever it takes
But stop this train
Slow, slow! The light's turing red
But I say, "No! No!"
Whatever I do
I barrel on through
And I don't complain
No matter what I try
I'm flying full speed ahead
I'm never worried to walk the wire
I won't do anything just "half-assed"
But with the stakes getting somewhat higher
I've got a singular impression that things are moving too fast
When I saw this part of the story, I fell in love and resonated with Jamie. He had a dreamer's attitude and a heart of open glory to explore the world and put his art in it. I feel very much the same. But then the story chronicles the decent into chaos and pain as Jamie's success essentially ruins his marriage with Cathy. Cathy's story, on the other hand, begins with the demise of the marriage and move backwards towards the happy start. It is revealed that Cathy is a struggling actress and has decided to put her dreams on the back burner to fully support Jamie and his new found success. But Cathy can't keep up. She doesn't find the same success and continues to end up back in the same old places that make her feel safe and small. And she begins to resent and reject Jamie. And he begins to resent and reject Cathy.
Don't we get to be happy, Cathy?
At some point down the line
Don't we get to relax?
Without some new tsuris
To push me yet further from you?
And if I'm cheering on your side, Cathy
Why can't you support mine?
Why do I have to feel
I've committed some felony
Doing what I always swore I would do?
I think you'll be fine!
Just hang on and you'll see-
But don't make me wait till you do
To be happy with you
Will you listen to me?!
No one can give you courage
No one can thicken your skin
I will not fail so you can be comfortable, Cathy
I will not lose because you can't win.
I mean. Break my heart into a million pieces why don't ya. I didn't mean to go on a tangent about this musical. I merely found resonance in it's story. Success feels good until it doesn't. How do you maintain it? How do you sustain it? How do you let others share it with you? Once you succeed...where do you go? Jamie says he just keeps pushing through. Cathy accepts it. I'm not saying one person wins in this situation. In my opinion, Jamie fucks up in the end. Without giving it away, I believe success went to his head and though he had an open heart and belief in his wife, success was the catalyst to their ending. But then I stop myself and realize...Cathy's lack of success was also the catalyst to their ending. Never reaching a goal, not trying hard enough, giving in too soon...it caused guilt, resentment, and a dependency on an identity that wasn't her own. So maybe Cathy fucked up too. Someone will always be waiting. The other will always be moving ahead.
Here's my question. Here's the challenge.
What is the balance?
How do I maintain a steady momentum of sacred non successful rituals and the on going wheel of successful results? I am still trying to figure this out. But I know. Stop thinking so much about it. Continue doing. Stopping to think about it all only adds more pressure to the case. I will continue to forge ahead in my efforts and I will continue to take time away to process it all. Maybe that's the balance all long. I don't do maybe's...so there it is.