succeed: to prosper
successful: turning out to be as was hoped for
success: a favorable or satisfactory outcome or result
You see, it's all relative: prosperity, hope, favor, satisfaction. These are all things that are individually interpreted and personally defined.
I've thought about success before--quite often, actually--but the kicker is that even your own personal definition is likely to be different depending on the context.
As a mother, I base my success on whether I have loved and nurtured to the best of my capability. As a wife, I feel successful if my husband feels appreciated and valued. In finances, I think success relates to what you do with what you've been given (not just monetary stewardship, but also time, education, and talent.)
For me, success is intertwined with continued growth and effort. It is less about the goal than it is about the journey. Of course, the little bonuses are always nice: a car or house, a happy family, etc. and I'm not discounting those, but there needs to be a balance...you can't base everything on tangible rewards.
One area in which I haven't solidified my opinion of success is in regards to writing. I love to write--to create in general--but I'm constantly torn between wanting to create for the artistic experience alone, and striving for outside validation.
I was flipping through Ordinary Genius: A Guide for the Poet Within today and ran across this question:
What is your definition of success as a writer?
I had to stop and think about it. As a writer? Well, I'd love to be published. Of course I would. But that is only one measure of success. We all know that there is amazing work that remains unpublished, just as well as we know that there is published work that is undeserving.
And there is part of me that feels like I don't want anything less than my best published...and since I'm still growing, still learning, still experimenting with my preferred medium, I may never reach my best. I waffle...thinking about that goal makes it harder for me to enjoy the journey, makes it easier for that doubt to creep in (the last line from the movie Doubt has been surging through my head lately: Meryl Streep cries, "I have doubts. I have such doubts.") At which point I force myself to look back and remind myself that it is less about the goal than it is about the journey.
My definition of success as a writer, or as a reader, must be the same as anything else I devote time to: continued growth and joy in the journey. Perhaps, at some point, the validation and other little bonuses are part of that process...perhaps at some point I am happy enough with my work to seek publication...perhaps at some point I get published. But perhaps I don't. And perhaps it is okay to feel successful either way.
How do you define success in your reading or writing? Do you work more on tangible goals than I do? I'd love to hear another perspective--what works for you?
|The guide words in my dictionary explain everything:|
"succeed" is on the same page as "suck" ...which is why
it is so easy to waffle between the two!