A Scattered Brain On Defining Success & Making A Difference
When I’m feeling hopeless, lost, and honestly, a little down on myself, it usually always stems from the feeling of I haven’t accomplished much… that I haven’t contributed much to society… that I haven’t done much of anything with my life at all… and what pains me the most, that I haven’t made a difference.
It’s really hard to not feel that way sometimes when I hear and read about folks in their 20s and 30s who have started their own businesses or came up with some great idea or product. Or teenagers and twenty-somethings who have published best sellers.
And if you’re like me, nearing 40 and feeling like you have nothing to show for it, you think “Wow. I must be really lazy and unmotivated.”
Which if we were to be honest, I kind of am sometimes. I usually have a few spells a year when I wonder “What’s the point in writing?” What’s the point of going out and taking pictures?” “What’s the point in any of the things I’m doing? Of life!?”
Needless to say, the voices in my head can get pretty emo.
I won’t deny with my family history of mental issues that I most likely have a somewhat mild case of depression. It’s a struggle I have recognized over the past several years that is like a weed. I can rip it out of the ground, but somehow someday it will rear its ugly head again. And when it does, I wallow in its resurgence for a few days before I eventually have enough and unroot it once again.
Should I be on antidepressants? Quite possibly. I should at least have a therapist. And I keep meaning to do that, but I never do. Maybe someday I’ll reach a tipping point and have to seek out one. Fingers crossed that doesn’t really happen.
Writing is my therapy though. I’ve written since I was a wee little girl with a flowery pink journal. Actually, I think it was blue, and it had a lock. Because pink? Bleh, I’ve never been a fan of pink.
And as crazy or not so crazy as it may sound, wallowing is therapeutic for me as well. I need to feel those feelings. I can’t imagine not feeling a few days of despair and hopelessness I experience every year.
A lot of it could also just be seasonal depression. It usually happens around the same time every year and not just at winter. Although, winter is always a given.
Good job, us, for choosing to live in Seattle, huh?
Honestly, I don’t really think the husband and I will last long here. As beautiful as Washington is and as lovely as the summers are in Seattle, I mostly can’t stand the monotony of the weather. Sunny all summer. Cloudy and gray all winter. I need variety. I need thunderstorms in the spring and summer and snowstorms in the winter. I definitely need more color and the vibrancy and smell of autumn.
I truly don’t understand how people live in areas with very little or no distinction among the seasons. I guess if that’s all you know, OK. But, man… I find it rather gloomy and boring.
So anyway… what was I talking about?
Something about being emo…
Oh yeah, what should you do when you feel like Eeyore and all ‘woe is me’?
Most people would probably tell you to get over yourself or they may tell you all the things that are great about you or all that you’ve done, etc. etc… which is nice but doesn’t have quite the same impact as actually realizing all your awesomeness for yourself. Stroking your own ego and pumping yourself up every once in a while is good for your mind and well-being.
So, I suggest making a short list of your achievements and even better… the little ways you have made and/or are making a difference in the lives of others and keep it somewhere handy for when you’re feeling down on yourself.
Publish it or keep it private… it’s up to you.
Today, I feel like sharing my list…
- Rescuing two pups… one from a solitary life spent in a garage for 16 hours a day and the other a shelter dog picked up as a stray whose life beforehand we can deduce was also one of neglect and who was probably bounced around a lot from home to home. They are now healthy, happy, and, for the most part, pretty well-balanced despite their past circumstances. I can’t tell you how much it warms my heart that I had a little hand in that. That may not mean much to non-animal lovers, but for those who are… you get it. It can be really challenging when you make the decision to rescue a dog, but it’s so worth it when you see the difference you’ve made in their lives.
- Enriching the lives of my little family… It kind of goes along with #1, but I’ll include my husband in this as well. Granted, he works to take care of us financially (while I get my creative shit together), but I like to think I make his day to day life a little easier. I often half-joke about how I’m a lazy bum in my pajamas all day, but I do most of the cleaning and cooking and taking care of the pups on a daily basis because I’m the one at home. I know if we were in a reverse situation, he would do the same. Aside from that, I like to think I push him to challenge himself. After all, he’s the more conservative one in this relationship. Without me in the picture, would he have even thought of someday moving across the country? Of experiencing a life living somewhere other than Ohio? I think not. ;) And hopefully, that has enriched his life in some way.
- Creative recognition… Some of my early photography work is being used by a couple companies for their websites and marketing. (I’d share those urls with ya, but I look at those images now and think “Ugh.”) I often struggle in how to direct my artistic drive. It’s almost like a cross I bear, and I sometimes I wish I had no desire to create something. But the first time I saw my photos in print, I was secretly proud of myself.
- Saying enough is enough… At some point, I finally realized that how others behave really has nothing to do with me. It’s still a constant struggle for me. Sometimes, there are setbacks. Sometimes, there is progress.
- Affecting the life of a complete stranger… And in regards to the blog post referenced above in #4, it has had an impact on more than just me. “I just wanted you to know how much your words helped to create positive change…” and “…you are so brave to share your story and that you really made an impact on my life…”
Reading this list and realizing the truth in it makes my day a little brighter so that I can then just get on with my life and the ambitions and goals I have set for myself.
So then you may think, “Well, that’s all nice and dandy. But, I still haven’t [insert your personal ambition here: written that best seller… established a successful business… invented the latest and greatest whatever.]”
Yeah, I hear ya. But, realize this: some of us are late bloomers. Don’t believe me? Read… 20 People Who Became Highly Successful After Age 40 and 30 Under 30? Eight Legendary Artists Who Prove You Don’t Need To Make It Big By 30. My personal favorite success stories are Stan Lee, Charles Darwin, Julia Child, and Harry Bernstein.
So there. Now get over yourself ;) and get to work.
*Image taken in Occidental Park in Pioneer Square, Seattle