Violet’s Sparkle: What Defines Success?
This post started as a response to a comment left on my last post, and it struck me as I was writing it that it was something I wanted to share with everyone.
(Thank you, margo14!)
I should also note that from time to time on this blog, you’ll see posts about things other than writing. I’m passionate about writing (it’s my #1 passion above all else!), and I’ll talk about it often– but this blog serves as a place for not only talk of writing, but also other things too. Posts about happy things, about music, about books, about my cat Ollie, or things I think we should talk about! Anything glittery, or anything to take a minute of your day and distract you : )
This is definitely one of those ^-^
So: what defines success?
As writers, we face the same thing: being told that we can’t succeed, that we can’t make it, that it’s impossible.
We hear it from our own brains, from people around us, even from professionals– everywhere we go, we face being told what we’re doing won’t be successful.
(And that the people who have achieved success were just lucky.)
I think that far too often, society trains us that “success” can only be defined in certain ways– and further, that it’s impossible to do something that we absolutely love and be successful doing it.
It definitely doesn’t help that in the world of creativity, the realm of books is an incredibly competitive market with a locked door that can be seemingly impossible to get through.
Society has trained a lot of us that “success” is defined as something guaranteed, consistent, and conventional– finishing high school with good grades, attending a perfect college, then going into a 9-to-5 job based on the field you studied.
In some regards, they’re right: routes like business, science, medicine, etc, have specific inner routes that you can study, learn well, and follow to a T because it’s been done before. No route is easy to climb, but some routes are well-paved and defined.
Paths like creative ones don’t have a study book to follow, nor a paved path– there’s nothing to follow to a T in order to achieve “success”, because it takes so long to hone your craft, get yourself out there, and make any money at all, that society claims succeeding in a lane like that is just “luck”.
People like J.K. Rowling were struck with what society calls “luck”– since it’s claimed that it’s rarely possible to achieve something like that, it obviously must have just been luck. It’s true that a dozen publishers turned her down, but it’s also true that she kept going– she finally got Harry Potter published because she kept going. A Wrinkle In Time, an utter classic, was rejected 26 times, too.
They made it happen and didn’t give up.
That’s perseverance, dedication, and strength– definitely not just luck.
But what’s the truth?
When we listen to society’s “rules” for “success”… the negative corners in our brain feed off of it.
[ Because of course, the negative corners of our brains don’t want us to be happy doing something we love, oh no no! ]
It becomes easier and easier to eventually just “admit” our writing sucks and turn away from it seriously.
After all, it’s what society taught us, so it’s the only way …right?
Clearly, we can’t ever be good writers, let alone be published ones, because it’s not conventional, we clearly will never be able to make money, and standing out with good writing in a crowd of so many writers must be impossible, right?
The negative corners of our brains just… run with it and stick with it. Plus, you hear less of people successfully doing things that they love, and instead hear more of successful people doing things cause those were things that they had to do anyway, the “right” things.
That’s obviously just more evidence, right?
The secret is…
Success isn’t defined as one specific thing.
The secret is, we can do anything we set our minds to.
Who’s to say you still can’t follow your passions?
Who’s to say that you can’t have more than one profession: and have a job to keep you on your feet while you continue to hone in and strengthen on what’s important to you?
Who’s to say you can’t do what you set your mind to?
The answer is no one: because no one knows just how determined you are, just how bright the fire might be burning within, and just how much you can do when you really set your mind to it.
You can do anything that you set your mind to.
And life doesn’t supply “happily ever afters” as much as we wished life did, but you can make your own success if you really set your mind to it.
I set my mind to it, and I’m working on figuring out a way to support myself on the side while constantly pouring my heart and soul into my novels– and hopefully, eventually making it.
in conclusion ✧･ﾟ*✧･ﾟ
The thing society continues to neglect to tell us is that we actually can succeed non-conventionally.
Society teaches us to be conventional, because conventional is familiar, consistent, guaranteed– and creative paths like writing or art are not always familiar, not always consistent, not always guaranteed. They’re a lot of messy unknowns, often.
But that doesn’t mean they aren’t achievable.
Our brains tend to listen to society, especially that negative corner. The negative corner’s constant bites makes it easier and easier for us to turn away from our writing and say it absolutely sucks.
Because that part of our brains doesn’t want us to be happy— there’s a reason I call it the negative corner of your brain. It’s negative, not nice, and the same part of you that points out everything else you’re doing that’s wrong.
Despite society and our brains, however, no matter how much you hear it’s impossible to be successful in a lane of interests that people think can only be as much as a hobby or two, it’s not impossible.
In fact, it’s possible. It’s possible to sustain yourself and also focus on writing.
It’s possible to do the things you love in life, even if they aren’t “conventional”.
[ Even if they aren’t what society defines as “realistic” ]
People don’t lie when they say it’s hard to “make it” in the creative world: but what they forget to mention is that life doesn’t have to be so black and white.
Who’s to say that you can’t have a job that sustains yourself while you focus on your creative passions? Who’s to say you don’t eventually make your life defined by doing your creative passions?
Who’s to say you don’t figure it out?
The flame that burns within any of us is bright, strong, and determined. You can do anything that you set out to do.
If you focus in on that flame, you could use it to change the world.
Humans are fierce, you know. And stubborn: we’re all very, very stubborn indeed.
It’s not going to be easy– but it’s not easy for anyone.
But if there’s something it’s not, above all else, is that it’s impossible.
[ Because spoiler alert: it isn’t impossible. ]
You should follow the flames that burn within your soul. Whether that means it’s something “conventional” or not, you should follow your passions.
Your gut hunches, deepest feelings, and lingering suspicions involving what feels right and what doesn’t can tend to be pretty much right all along.
(In other words: If you’ve got an inexplicable feeling telling you be creative, then follow it. I believe in you.)
Success is different for everyone. How do you define success? What is success to you?