I have been struggling recently with myself. With seeing myself as a successful human being. I don't see myself as successful. And I have been questioning why. Why am I not successful? What is it that defines someone as a success? And I realised something. The world defines success very specifically. In fact, I narrowed it down to three factors in which society measures success:
3. Physical Appearance.
If you have financial wealth, you are a success. If you are in a committed relationship with a significant other, you are successful. If you are physically attractive, there's a big tick again. All three and you are placed on the podium of the ideal human being.
So what if you don't have those? I've been realising within myself that I define my personal success against these three criteria. And I come up short every time. I am definitely not wealthy (student life, am I right?), haven't been in a relationship and feel like I am lacking in the physical appearance department. I know that physical appearance can be subjective, but when you're constantly surrounded by the media and its portrayal of the ideal body through films, music and fashion, it begins to distort your perception of what normal or healthy is.
You might be saying, "Who cares? Success isn't everything" and I agree wholeheartedly. However, I still struggle with this. I try to compensate for my shortcomings - financial and relational - by working hard on the physical. So when I am having a bad body, hair, face day I feel like I am a failure. Because if I am not physically attractive then I am not a successful person, right?
WHAT HAS THE WORLD COME TO?
Why are the parameters for success so slim (no pun intended)? And how can you break free from defining yourself by your bank account, relationship status or physical attractiveness?
One thing to note about the three defining criteria of success is that they all relate to external factors. In other words, how you appear to the world. There is no mention of inner qualities such as compassion or intellect. And why is that? Well, first impressions are pretty much solely based on what you see when you meet someone. We notice the flashy car. The wedding ring. The perfect curl of hair. So we spend a lot of time and effort trying to create the best impression we can on people, to give them the idea that we have it all together - even if on the inside we feel like a failure.
I, for one, am guilty of this. I have invested so much of my time on trying to perfect how I look on the outside. I dress well, exercise and eat well to maintain a nice body. If I am not well presented I feel inferior to others. And this is dangerous. It has caused me to define my worth on being perfect - or as close to it as I can get. Inner qualities take a back seat to the outer ones. As a result, I have low self-esteem and rocky self-worth.
Perfection is a not an attainable goal. No one can be perfect. So the only thing you can do is aim to be the best you you can be. And that starts by working on your inner qualities and talents. Doing things you love, and investing time into developing talents you have. I have discovered the hard way that long lasting happiness and satisfaction is not found by trying to fit into unrealistic and unattainable expectations. Success is being the best you, not the best perception of you. Screw trying to be perfect. Be a hot mess. Have bad body, hair, skin days, and don't give a damn what people have to say about it. You are more than the external.
LIVE INSIDE OUT, NOT OUTSIDE IN.