12 Months of Self Love: Defining Success.

I may be a few days behind, but since we're no no real schedule here, I bring you activity two for my 12 Months of Self-Love project.  And if you're interested in a really great, I suggest checking out this article on self esteem vs. self compassion.  

And now onto the activity!

I admit I feel a little lost, still, on where to begin as far as the whole self-love (shall I call it self-compassion?) begins.  Whenever I find myself thinking negatively about myself I go, 'Hey now, simmer down' most of the time, and that has helped greatly, but I still feel pretty useless and lazy and stupid most of the time.  That I'm not serving any purpose, that I'm not helping anybody or anything and that my goals, while now not so far out of possibility that I consider offing myself daily.....are still pretty far out there.  Then I thought about how most of us relate in some degree, our personal worth to our personal success.  Somewhere on the self-help sites I bookmarked, there was a little survey on how you define success.  Because until you define it, it's very difficult to know where you stand and why you should or shouldn't be happy, or should or shouldn't work on certain areas of your life.  I couldn't find the survey, naturally, when I went looking, but fear not--I adapted my own Patricia-version of the questions here.

So, where do I stand? Let's find out shall we...

1. How do you define success within your family?
"family" is a tough word for a foster kid but I will try to answer this anyway.  As far as my biological family, I just want peace and quiet, as much as I can possibly get.  This means staying away from my family and their provocation, not putting myself in a place to have conflict, etc.  If I were to go a step further I would say success would be making peace with all the negativity: with my past, with Doris's death, with the things I can't change that torment me.  Is that possible? I don't know, and I don't even know for sure if I would let go if I could.  It's safe to say that "peace and quiet" equals success then.

2. How do you define success in your personal life--in other words, success with friends, coworkers, and other interpersonal relationships?
I have a handful of people in person, and a larger network of people online (that's introvertedness at work you all) who I hold dearly close and to me, I'm successful if they know that I love them and care about them even if I'm not always present or right there.  I like going out and having drinks, or exploring with friends, but socializing is not a very important part of relationships for me.  I can be alone quite a lot, but I need to balance that with having deep relationships or I get depressed.  So; deep connections that I nurture and still have room to be my hermity self in are successful relationships.

2.  How do you define success in an intrapersonal (within yourself) relationship?
This is difficult, because I know a lot of strange things about myself.  I know that I have a really dark side, but I also have always wanted to be that 'inner queen' immortalized by every poet and historian across the world.  Important characteristics for me to have are intelligence, creativity, humor, compassion, solitude, bravery, and helpfulness.   But that's not all there is to me, there's a part of me that's like a crazy wildfire destroying everything in its path.  Somebody who is cut-throat and vicious and independent to the point of lifelong loneliness....a strange, weird, totally lost side.  I've never quite figured out how I am supposed to make these two work together.  They clash, and I get angsty about it....so I really don't  know the answer to this question and I guess that means I might not be on the best track to being happy and successful within myself.   

3.  How do you define business and career success? What is your dream job/profession?
Well, my DREAM job is being a novelist.  As far as business success, anywhere that I feel useful, I can be a leader, and enjoy at least some aspects of the job other than the paycheck, is a success.  In the past I've done mundane jobs with something greater in mind and I don't mind starting at the bottom to work your way up.  I've also been a teacher, a job with a lot of flowers and balloons and pats on the back...so I know how good that feels, as well.  Ideally, if I become a Swedish citizen I'd like to be an English teacher, but if I move back to America I am going to continue working towards Firefighting.  I know, they're different...but not to me.  See above about my two different sides.  So really the success is just something stable, supportive, where I'm happy---or, realizing my epic dream of being famous.

4. Why is this your dream job? What do you love about it and what feelings does it bring you when you envision yourself succeeding?
It's always been my dream to write...I've written since I could form ridiculous little sentences in grade school.  Cliche, I know.  But I also have a story to tell, and more than that...I have hundreds of stories to tell.  I love everything about writing.  The struggles, the triumphs, learning about the characters, being in the shower and getting the best scene idea ever, sitting and drinking coffee and staring at the screen determinedly... the way writers talk about writing and the things we don't say about writing. All of it just means the world to me and I feel at peace when I write more than any other time in my life, even sleeping.  And NOT writing puts me at real unease.  Depression begets...well...NOT doing your hobbies, and while depressed I haven't written as much and it's made my self-esteem just plummet.  When I think of success I literally can't imagine.  I can't imagine that feeling of opening a letter from a publisher, of getting an agent....none of it.  Seeing my book in print.  I think when it happens I will just faint repeatedly until it sets in.

5. What is the greatest threat to your current successes in life? Business or personal.  How secure do you feel about being successful? 
As stupid as it sounds....me.  I'm the biggest threat.  I've shoved my family and their antagonism out of my life, I've proven that I have the balls to move across an ocean.  I got out of several bad relationships and situations over the recent years I've considered myself an adult, and there are no real limitations on what I can achieve other than the ones I put there myself.  Unfortunately, there's a huge risk for failure in a lot of what I do (art, writing, relationships) so my low self-esteem stems from me saying "hey don't do that because you'll be let down."  I guess I am more afraid of failure than even I realize.  That defense mechanism is so ingrained in my head that it's the biggest threat to me not finishing a single novel, to me ruining friendships....everything.  Right now I don't feel very secure about being successful, but the good part is that this move, and this decision to confront my issues, have already helped me climb a few steps back up into the light of reaching for your dreams.  And the first few steps are the hardest....so I'm hoping things continue to improve.

What about you? How do you define success? Any tips on how I can improve? Feel free to grab these questions and answer them (don't forget to link me so I can check out your answers!) 


  1. I'm particularly fascinated by your answer to #2. I think everyone has so many different impulses and facets, and that maybe our mistake is in trying to smoosh them all together. Maybe we just need to accept that these aspects surface and then fade away. I remember reading some books on Buddhism a while back and they talked about how we create a lot of our own suffering by clinging to the idea of a fixed identity.
    Great questions - I'll have to answer them on my "serious" blog. I think it will be fruitful to think about what success means. We talk about it constantly, but if we're blindly taking other people's definition - or not even bothering to define it - we be can creating a lot of trouble for ourselves!
    p.s. that is a stunning photo of you. And you've got the brains and heart to match. :)

    1. oh gee whiz thank you for such a nice compiment. Let me sit ove rhere and giggle like a socially inappropriate child....

      but your comment really hit home with me. I am so thankful you said that (about the suffering/fixed identity) it really makes so much sense when you start to think about it. Gah I need to read more into Buddhism. So that inspired me to to do a whole different blog entry!

      Also--your 'serious' blog...can you link me to it? I feel like I've followed it but I don't know if it's in my feed. I'm kind of a slob about those things, so I'm just checking :)

  2. I must say, you confidence in your life totally inspires me. I don't think you really see yourself as a confident person, but whenever I read anything you right, I feel more confident myself! Is that totally silly? Anyways, you're awesome.

    1. haha yes this totally confuses me, because I feel like I express absolutely zero confidence in my life. Still there's some part of me that acts like it knows exactly what it's doing? I don't know, my ego? My "teacher" attitude or something. Anyway I consider this a huuuuuge compliment and I am suuuper happy that I can make someone else feel confident! So thank you :D

  3. ah i had no idea you wanted to be a novelist! how awesome! what do you like to write about? i'd love to see anything you've written :) + maybe i can help you! xx Fel

    1. yes ma'am! I am kind of quiet about it on the blog, relatively quiet anyway....because showing off writing kind of pales in comparison to showing off art. haha. I write science fiction and crime fiction (novels) and I really like short stories around any old theme. I could maybe show you a short story? Since they're done and polished and my novel...not so much, haha. I'd love some help! Email me lady.

  4. Great post, made me that I usually don't evaluate myself and everytime I do something better, I just feel because I know that there is something more I could achieve, it's hard to be never satisfied and never realize that you actually suceeded in something.

    1. YES. Exactly! I'm the same way! So busy completing one thing and then moving to the next level without even a pause to acknowledge that I have succeeded. I've done something noteworthy. In all honesty I think it's a good trait to have, it shows humility and a good work ethic, but I'm learning that you have to have balance, you know? That's the hardest part. Thanks for your comment!

  5. This is a beautiful heartfelt post. You should have a read of this post which was linked up as well, especially when it comes to accidentally self sabotaging your efforts (which we all do sometimes).


    Thanks for linking up :)

    Sarah @ A Cat-Like Curiosity

    1. Thanks Sarah! You are totally awesome. I will go check out the post :)