I’ve been waking up the last several days around 4:30 AM. Not by choice. My body just likes to do this every few months especially when it realizes winter is on its way. Especially when it’s around the time of traumatic events that have taken place in my life (the body doesn’t forget).
With lack of sleep comes the depression and inability to cope or find creative ways to keep moving forward. It feels like the world is over all because your brain doesn’t have the capacity to handle situations because it is lacking the one thing it needs most.
So what did I do?
I took a break from social media. I took a break from posting. I took a break from doing anything that didn’t feel like the next right move.
I slowed down and spent twenty minutes in complete silence sitting on the floor with my eyes closed. I breathed and listened to the ins and outs of my body.
And you know what came up?
Now, more than ever, we live in a society where it’s expected for us to produce, produce, produce. If we don’t create, if we don’t fit the mold, if we don’t look like we are successful on social media, then we lack value in society.
Inc. shared an article about millennials with over the top expectations to succeed stating that we live in a world that says if we do not become ‘successful’ by the age of 25, we are destined to be failures.
That preconceived notion will be what causes early onset heart attacks and aneurysms I swear. Think of what that kind of pressure that puts on a person, especially a teenager.
Think about it:
At 17-years-young, we are expected to know what we want to do and where we want to dump thousands of dollars to go to school to do exactly that.
At 18-years-young, we officially go into massive debt and have to decide the classes we will take to bring us on course to successfully achieve said goals and get ourselves out of debt by that same age of 25.
At 22-years-young, we have graduated with a bachelors or will be heading onto the next debt-sucking university to continue furthering our education. If our predetermined course takes us into the outside world, we have to find a job, start a business, become, produce, produce, produce right off of that giant stage when we accept that piece of paper from the dean.
At 25-years-young, if we have not achieved said goals and have completely gotten out of debt and haven’t made ourselves known on social media for all the tremendous ‘success’ we have achieved, we are now officially dubbed as failures.
Don’t you think that is far too much pressure to be putting on someone at such a young age? No wonder I’m constantly doubting myself believing such a false tale for so unbelievably long. It’s exhausting.
I couldn’t sleep because I know in the winter my productivity goes down.
I couldn’t sleep because my body remembered the trauma and said “hey, you need to be better than before to prove yourself.”
I couldn’t sleep because I was feeling like an absolute failure.
But let me share something that the writer, Melanie Curtin, said:
At the age of 40,
Samuel L. Jackson hadn’t yet starred in a movie.
Julia Child was working in advertising.
Vera Wang had barely gotten her start in fashion.
I am not saying that we need to silence our inner soul if it’s burning with a fire driving you in a direction that is calling you to do something you want to do. What I am saying is that if you do not start a Fortune 500 company or become an Instagram influencer or make $1 Trillion by 27, the world will not end.
One incredibly important take away is this: What does success mean to you?
Is it being happy?
Is it finishing your latest painting?
Is it when your website publishes it’s first post?
Is it when you get that promotion?
Is it starting a family?
Is it moving where you’ve always dreamed of?
Is it waking up in the morning?
Is it taking one hour for yourself each day?
Is it becoming a billionaire?
Is it becoming a parent?
Only you can decide what that looks like. Because society has a mold that has been predetermined for us since birth. But guess what? YOU get to determine what that looks like.
Take some time to sit down and write about what success looks like for you. You may already have an idea in place, and that is amazing. But slow down, take a breath, close your eyes and allow yourself to reconsider it. It’s perfectly okay to change your mind at any point in your life. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for determining your value of success.
Then write it out on paper, and yes, with a pen. Make it tangible so you can hold it in your hands, put it on your fridge or the mirror so you see it first thing in the morning.
My definition of success is balance. If I am able to keep myself, wants, desires, and necessities in balance, then I feel like I should on the Forbes 40 under 40 list because I’ve made it.