It’s easy when you’re slogging it out down in the trenches to think that if only you can break through everything will be great.
Sell that first short story and you’re on your way.
Sell that first novel and it’s all sunshine and puppies from here on out.
Make the bestseller’s list and you’ll never have to worry again.
Write a book that millions of people love and life is all good.
But that’s just not true.
Problem is, so many people are struggling just to break in that those who have achieved a level of success rarely talk about their very real struggles with success.
What are those struggles?
Feeling like you don’t deserve it.
Not being able to achieve the same level of success ever again.
Not being able to maintain your original level of success.
Feeling isolated from those you started out with.
Feeling different from those you’re now on a level with.
Being watched and judged for every thing you say and do.
The list goes on and on, but no one wants to hear it. Someone at the top complains and a bunch of people say, “Oh, boo hoo. To have your problems” dismissing another person’s very real pain and struggle.
It’s easy to dismiss the struggles of people who are doing better than you. It doesn’t make them any less real or painful for the person experiencing them.
What made me think of this?
A few things:
I read a blog post by Amanda Hocking yesterday: Much Blogging About Nothing
To me she’s a girl who is feeling very real pain and isolation because of her success. My heart goes out to her and I admire her willingness to lay it out all out there.
That posts shows that success doesn’t overcome depression. It doesn’t keep bad things from happening in your life. And, even when thousands of people are saying (through their actions) that you deserve the success you’ve found, that you’ll ever believe it yourself.
Also, I was watching the move Infamous the other day and it touches on Harper Lee and how she never wrote another novel after To Kill a Mockingbird.
That made me wonder what I’d do if my first story or novel were some sort of seminal work that I knew I could never replicate. What then? What do you do when the best story you’re capable of telling happens to be the first story you told? How do you live up to those expectations? How do you not spend the rest of your life feeling like a failure because you succeeded so well so easily so soon?
And I think about J.K. Rowling trying to write something other than Harry Potter. I would not want to be boxed in like that. Or having people stalk her children. I would not want to be noticed like that.
We all want to succeed at what we do. But it’s important to realize that success doesn’t solve everything. Sure, maybe it takes away the worry about “how do I pay the rent this month”, which is a big one when you have it.
But it doesn’t make all of your problems go away. And it brings a whole new set of issues that you’ve never faced before. A set of issues you may well have to face alone because no one in your life has ever faced them or understands them.
Something to think about…
Human beings are relativists: we judge situations by a subjective mean created from our experiences, weighted for currency and emotional strength. And we do it quite poorly. This is one of the reasons some people will kill over this season’s trainers and others will not steal a loaf of bread to save their life.
True. I just like to remind others to try to walk in someone else’s shoes every once in a while. And to realize that maybe they don’t have it as bad as they think they do and that achieving “whatever” won’t solve everything.