I’ve never been able to see myself as a successful person. I’ve seen others potential and that turned into success, but not my own. And when I say success, I don’t mean that they’re making 500k a year or that they discovered the cure for cancer. While the latter of those would be great, what I really mean by successful is that these people went after what they wanted and achieved it. They set goals, they met those goals, they worked hard, and yes—some have had a great deal of privilege and that has absolutely played a role in what they’ve been able to accomplish—but they still saw a potential in themselves that I didn’t see in myself. At most, I saw myself a stay-at-mom, not living much past my kids getting out of school. And as with all those that had visions for themselves and made those things happen, I’d been doing the same. I was making my vision for myself come true.
When I began working on myself, this vision slowly changed. It’s taken years, though. And even now, I don’t always—or even often—see myself positively in some future sense of myself. It’s like a brick wall. I see nothing past this barrier.
I have goals, sure… I’m still happily running my small press and working toward shifting rape culture. I’m still in college, was accepted to the UW and into my competitive program, and I even got A’s (like all A’s!) this last year—and these were hard fucking classes! I have my writing, which I’m still seeing improvement with. I’m still working through PTSD triggers when they arise, and I work through them so much faster than my prior ‘shut down for months on end’ that I used to experience. My house is in good running order, my health is ever-improving, so why can’t I see myself beyond this brick wall?
One of the things I’ve read is that successful people can see themselves as successes in some future image of themselves. I hear it often. I do get concerned sometimes that my inability to see myself in such a sense means that I’ll never make it to where I want to be. If I can’t see it for myself, then how do I get there?
Maybe being unable to see beyond this wall in front of me isn’t bad. It’s possible that this is my safety to keep moving forward because if I can’t see the end results, then I can’t scare myself out of doing what I’m doing. True success—doing what I want, what I’m good at, and being able to take care of myself and loved ones with the financial stability that comes with this sort of success—has scared me in the past. I didn’t want to be too visible, make too much money, be too loud, essentially, because that attention felt dangerous. It made me feel like a target and feel like if something bad came my way, it was because I’d been too loud, made too much, or been too visible.
This, of course, is complete and utter bullshit and stems from victim blaming. But it’s still something I’ve battled and occasionally, still do. So maybe not seeing myself beyond this brick wall is keeping me from psyching myself out and running the other way. But it also serves as a limitation as I then don’t know what all I’m capable of and I hold back.
My natural instinct in life is to flee when things scare me. I don’t fight. I don’t usually freeze (though I have). And I do occasionally fawn when all other methods have failed. But my instinct is to flee. To run far away and never look back. This fleeing mentality means that I haven’t often looked at other options when hard situations arise. This fleeing mentality means I always have a plan B. And until a few days ago, I didn’t see how this was affecting me in a negative way. It just seemed smart. And it has been in the past in certain circumstances. But now it mostly serves as a hindrance. It keeps me from reaching where I want to be because the moment it gets too hard emotionally, I want to run. Or the moment it feels like I’m going to fail, I want to run. I would say it’s all about pride and not wanting to fail, but it doesn’t feel that way. It feels more like being terrified of repercussion because I’ve failed.
Failure happens. And I do have pride. There is no doubt there. When my pride gets in the way it’s problematic. I don’t particularly like failing, but I don’t know anyone that does. Even when it’s used as a learning step toward the next attempt. But this feeling is different and I can’t describe how. And this brick wall I see in my mind is related. It might be related in a good way, to keep me from pre-emptively running away from things, but I do worry that if I can’t see myself in this place of success, that I can’t achieve that success.
Of those that gain the sort of success I’m looking for, there is one common thread among them—the never, ever, make excuses for failure. Not achieving something means they look at what went wrong or sideways, then they take steps to prevent that from happening in the future. But I don’t see many people like this. Most make excuses, then never try again. Or they keep making excuses for every failure, never finding their way out of that failure loop.
Maybe this is the key… no excuses. Either do it or don’t, but don’t make excuses for not doing it.
I know this is somehow all related for me. I know this brick wall I see in my mind is there for a reason and I am ready to see beyond the wall. I’m ready to move forward. And I know there will be hurdles and things that I need to work around and on, and that’s okay. But those things aren’t an excuse for not completing my goals, and this is a new understanding for me.
Self-care means that sometimes I need to set things aside and work on me. Other times it means putting a family member or someone close to me a priority over my career goals. But these things should be brief. They should be temporary. They shouldn’t be a permanent block, which is what these things have been for me in the past. But people I see as successful take care of what needs taking care of, then they get right back to their career tasks. They don’t stop, make excuses, or use a circumstance as a reason to keep staying off task. These are the habits that I need…
Today I heard Brendon Burchard discuss three habits of ‘high performers’ (aka, successful people). They were 1. Seek clarity, ask what we want out of something we’re doing. 2. Generate energy, as in, take part in things that generate the happiness you want, the joy you want, rather than wait for those things to fall on you—because they won’t. And 3. Raise your performance necessity, ask yourself ‘why’ you need to succeed at something. Why is it so important that you do?
I don’t know what all this means for me yet or why I’m even writing about this right now, but it needed to come out. So here it is. I hope others can gain from this too.