how to actually be successful
I was laying there. Looking up at the sky. The light slowly starting to encompass the darkness as the sun rose. And a small little mosquito caught my attention. He was flying desperately. With everything he had to get out of the tent we were sleeping in. But no matter how hard he flapped his little wings, it did nothing. He desperately and frantically flapped and moved around looking for a way out of this trap.
Here’s a terrible quality photo for you haha…
I watched him frantically fly for a while. Fifteen minutes maybe. Then Olivia and Jane, my 5 and 3 year old, woke up and we went on with our day filled with hiking and fun at Arches National Park. I completely forgot about him until later that afternoon when we came back to the tent. I climbed in the roasting tent to roll up the burning hot sleeping bags and on the floor laid that mosquito. No longer alive. It was definitely the first and probably last time I ever felt sad to see a mosquito dead.
The reason I felt sad for this little fly was because there was a solution to his problem. A giant door waiting for him to fly out of. But it was on the opposite side. He was so stressed about getting out that he didn’t pause to look around and realize he wasn’t even flying in the spot that would allow his escape.
When I saw that mosquito, I was just starting a break in my work. I had been a wedding photographer for a long time, then created online courses to help brides – all of which I really cared about and loved doing. But as my nap time work days turned into full work days, sometimes even 14 hour days. As a I looked back at photos of my kids and realized I wasn’t in them. As I felt more and more hollow and stressed and unhappy even though I “had what I wanted”, I realized something. I was chasing a door that wasn’t mine. A success that wasn’t actually success to me. I was working myself to total burnout and exhaustion but still not feeling what I wanted to feel.
How often are we FLYING SO HARD but not even going in the right direction? The funny thing is, the work required for that mosquito to escape was actually quite minimal. He had far outdone himself in the 15 minutes I watched him. But he was working harder and harder, not smarter. Had he taken the 5 seconds it took to look around and see the door, rather than frantically being busy, he would’ve escaped. He would’ve lived.
Maybe if we stop flying frantically and stop and get aligned, we’ll find ourselves EASILY flying to success. Not all this tiring, exhausting work. Actually quite easily and effortlessly enjoying the journey.
That’s what the summer started as for me – a break. And in it I’ve found so much more alignment than I ever could’ve imagined. Taking the break to realize what your door of success even is, although counterintuitive, IS working smarter.
The funny thing about success is it’s undefined. Like a lot of words, the meaning of success is relative. I mean really, what makes something “good”, “bad”, “fun”, “boring”, “failure”,… “success”? That depends on you. And what that word means to you.
And how often do we hustle and grind and work until we reach total burnout, only to realize we weren’t even flying toward the door of success for us personally?
How often is our door a door society has painted for us with big bold golden letters above it… S-U-C-C-E-S-S. And we work tirelessly only to realize… it was just that. A painted door.
The door to success isn’t one anyone else can give to you. It’s one that has to be forged and carved out by you. Defined by you.
When I saw the curled up mosquito, it made my heart sad. How many of us are like that little bug? Never stopping the frantic chase only to die having never actually lived the life we wanted to. Only to reach the end of our life to realize that we chased someone else’s idea of success. Drying up and dying to who we are at a soul level for the sake of what others have defined as success for them.
What is your door? What is actually going to lead to you feeling happy and fulfilled in your life? That’s up to you. Defined by you. And totally and completely dependent on you.
I just want you to know I love you and I believe in you and your ability to define and live a life that is truly successful by the standard that matters – your own. I know you have the courage inside of you to drop what you don’t want and embrace what you really do in order to live the life you truly want. You can do this and I’m rooting for you. ❤️
October 25, 2022