Thursday, April 26, 2012

Thursday's Thoughts- Expectations for Success

Thursday's Thoughts: a taste of what I'm thinking

Continuing on the topic of expectations I wrote about Monday, let's talk about expectations for success.  It seems fairly obvious that success is expected and promoted, but what exactly is success?

According to success is defined as:

the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors.
the attainment of wealth, position, honors, or the like.
a successful  performance or achievement: The play was an instant success.
Wow, really? Look at number 2. the attainment of wealth, position, honors or the like.  No wonder the world's definition of success leaves us feeling so inadequate.  Do you feel the pressure/expectation from society to succeed? The pressure to achieve more, do more, have the most, be the best, look the best, work the hardest, get everything right the first time, etc.  The world measures success in terms of money, appearance and social status.  But in reality not everyone can be on top.  That leaves many of us feeling unsuccessful and inadequate.  There is this promise or expectation that if you achieve this so called success you will be happy, satisfied and complete.  How sad and twisted, not to mention invalid.

A lot of times, I fall for this lie and I'm sure you do too.  I think that if I can just be good enough everything will work out perfectly.  That drive for perfection is something I've always struggled with.  I spent most of my time in school working extra hard to get good grades.  And do you know what it got me? A great G.P.A. and an awesome resume, (but no job yet).  All that hard work crammed into a few little numbers on my resume and a piece of paper known as a diploma. In the world's eyes I met the expectation for success at school yet am still unsuccessful since I don't have a high-paying job using that diploma.  But the world's definition of success is so very, very wrong.  Stick with me on this, I have a long winding thought process and I am going somewhere useful despite my wordiness.

First of all let's look at idea of getting good grades.  Sure the numbers that make up my G.P.A. look amazing, but what they don't tell you is that if I could go back and do it all over, I would do everything differently.  Those numbers may look like success, but they are just that, numbers.  Don't let a number define you.   In my mind they actually represent time wasted pursuing achievements instead of investing in people and relationships, but that's another story.

Anyway, where I was originally going with this post was to say that lately I've been feeling down because I have bought into the lie that not having a job and not knowing what I want to do with my life means I am not successful.  Thankfully I can see that this is not the case.  So how do I define success?  And how do I figure out what to do with my life?  For those answers I must turn to God.  I keep asking Him what's next for me. Questions something like:  What does He want me to do?  Where am I supposed to go? What do I do with my life right now? Why don't I have a job yet? Why am I here?...

He's answered me with that strong still voice that you can feel inside you if you listen closely.  But its not the answer I wanted to hear.  He's telling me to wait, to be patient, to be still and know that He is God (Psalm 37:7, Psalm 46:10), to trust Him even when I don't understand (Proverbs 3:5-6), to be content in every situation (Philippians 4:12).  My worth is not dependent on achievements like grades or jobs, only He can satisfy and complete me.  There are moments when I feel peaceful and patient, trusting His plan for me is perfect.  And there are plenty of times where I am restless and impatient, constantly wanting to know the who, what, where, when, why and how of His plan.  But through the restlessness and deep searching God is reminding me to turn to Him for answers.  The world has plenty of answers, just not the right ones.    

*Side note: For more on the topic of success check out Angela's post over at Oh She Glows.  I could especially relate to this part (and a lot of her other points too)
.....I completely agree that success without fulfillment is pointless. However, it’s often necessary for many of us to go through periods of time when we don’t feel fulfilled in order to grow and figure out where we should be. A lack of fulfillment has a definite purpose in our lives, so it’s important not to get down on ourselves if we feel lost. There can be a lot of pressure to always have our life and career figured out, but it’s totally normal not to. Moments of discomfort will propel you to figure out what it is that will make you happy. Sometimes it just takes longer than we expect.....   -Angela Liddon 
To keep reading click here and scroll down to the part on Tony's speech, its real life stuff that's worth your time.  (come on, I know a few of you are trying to avoid studying for finals anyway and this really is more beneficial in the long run)

Food for Thought: "To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

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