“Whenever you see a successful person you only see the public glories, never the private sacrifices to reach them.” – Vaibhav Shah
As you read this right now, I certainly hope the new year has been treating you well! After my 30 Day Deal for December and how much I felt it helped me make progress moving into the new year, I made a personal commitment to continue my regular contributions here, especially since I realized that, when I was so intentional about committing to contributing here, I started seeing so many different opportunities in my life to utilize this medium to process and to reflect.
I saw the above quote from Vaibhav Shah (who, by the way, is an utter mystery to the Internet, it seems) on a calendar hanging in my parents’ home. It really resonated with me after a friend shared an article last week about a University of Pennsylvania student who committed suicide and her battle with the dichotomous perspectives we create between our “online lives” and our true selves. The world we live in now has this sense of constantly attempting to capture moments (or, at the very worst, manufacture them) so people will “like” them, or retweet them, or share them in another medium. What we end up doing is presenting a distorted sense of what our lives are like, which then influences the perceptions of other people.
The common ground of this quote and that story is the very idea of “private sacrifices”. When you see someone considered “successful”, you are only seeing half (or a third, or an eighth, or what have you) of their story; you don’t see the long nights obsessing over a business plan, or the constant dodging of questions from family members about “what you’re up to these days”, or the bill that shows up in the mail saying FINAL NOTICE – PAST DUE. These are only a few hypothetical situations among the hundreds that I’m certain many successful people have overcome to get to the point where you know about them now. So, when we look at social media and start to think, “That person’s really got it all together”, we need to start reminding ourselves that we are only seeing what they choose to share.
Guess what? Nobody wins all the time; think about it, in the history of the sport, there is only one football team to ever have an undefeated season and win the Super Bowl and, every time a team seems to be getting close to something like that, everyone (who cares about such things) talks about how the 1972 Miami Dolphins will be hoping that team misses out on their perfection. That happened once, and yet we keep having the idea that success must mean you have everything you want and you’re happy all the time (y’know, you have a perfect season, every season).
I’ve learned from Michael Bernoff recently that “how you define things in your life is your ability to accept them”. So, it’s truly up to us to redefine success in our own lives, to create a definition that is attainable for us individually, rather than holding up our progress to the yardstick of someone else’s journey.
When we arrive here, we all start with the same breath in our lungs and the same beat in our hearts; as we grow, it’s up to us to learn how to create what we want in this life and to learn how to love everyone around us who has that same air and that same beat as we do. That will take glories, that will take sacrifices, yet, most importantly, it will take coming to love and accept ourselves and everyone around us for who they are, and who they can be.