A Message to My Younger Self about Success

I see it all the time. The efforts that people expel in order to get what they think will make them happy. It’s ludicrous when you look at it from a distance but perfectly reasonable and normal when up close.

I don’t know exactly when it sunk in for me that doing isn’t as effective as what you are being, but it did and it’s made all the difference. You understand that whatever success you get is not given to you. It is a by-product of who you are.

Take the late Lil Peep for example. He and other “soft boi” rappers are the contemporary versions of what nu-metal bands like Korn and Limp Bizkit were in the late 90s. He isn’t heavy and in-your-face like those bands are, but he’s emotional. The reason people gravitated towards him was because he was expressing what a lot of people were feeling inside — shame and sadness. Nu-metal bands expressed anger and suffering and people flocked to their shows and bought their albums in the millions.

While there are a number of people who label these types of acts as melodramatic, the reason they are successful is because they were just being themselves. They sang or rapped what was on their hearts. Their authenticity shone through and obliterated the materialistic bling rap and glam metal that preceded them. Not everyone is going to like you, and that’s a good thing. It means you stand for something.

Unfortunately, this is about to take a sadly ironic twist. These artists have enjoyed great commercial success and have fans throughout the world, but they still suffered. The success of expressing themselves was cathartic, but not cathartic enough to fully heal. Lil Peep died from an overdose of narcotics. Nu-metal bands have a littered past of overdoses, suicides, breakups, etc.

What does this mean? It means that while your only path to success is being and expressing who you really are, success does not equal happiness.

Tom makes a good point, a point I wish I knew a decade ago. It would’ve saved me from a lot of stress. I’ve had my own successes that really didn’t do much for me. Maybe initially it was a big deal, but it always felt like I should’ve been happier. Everyone else was happier for me than I was for myself.

Here’s the bottom line: Go out there and do what you want to do based on who you are. You will be successful if you do it. You will not be happy, but you will be successful. You might be happy in the process of going after your dreams, but the acquisition is really just a static title or object; that isn’t what is going to make you happy.

Happiness is more about the removal of what is making you unhappy — the negative self-talk, the childhood trauma and the substance abuse/addictions. If you remove the sickness from your body, all you have left is the body.

This is why it is recommended that we go to therapy and do the self-work so that we don’t remain our own worst enemy.

So while a lot of our favourite people on the planet have achieved great feats and blessed our lives in various ways, they don’t feel any different from the average Joe. They don’t necessarily feel what they thought success would feel like. But in the relief of the negative self-talk, the childhood trauma and the addictions, you can’t help but feel like a winner.

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Former Edu. Psychologist | Current Writer | Constant Learner | “By your stumbling the world is perfected.”

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