AND THE AWARD GOES TO…
(Disclaimer: I get that the Oscars were months & months ago, but it’s on my brain so go with me here.)
The Oscars is such a fun event to watch even though I’ve maybe heard of ten percent of the movies awarded. Seeing everyone dressed up and proud of their work is inspiring to me. Watching the film trailers with the emotional music moves me. And listening to some of the speeches captures me—I want to bottle up all the feelings. When Emma Stone won Best Actress in 2017 for La La Land, I reacted as if she was a blood relative. (Which is similar to when Hugh Jackman DIDN’T win in 2015 for Les Miserables—I am still bitter. The man freaking rocked John Val Jean.) After Emma Stone won, I kept thinking about her face when they announced her name and her speech and her work to get to where she was.
I have a thing with wanting to know backstories on celebrities, which makes IMDB my BFF. So when I looked up Emma Stone to see that she is the same age as me, it was mind blowing to me how much success she had achieved. And suddenly, my excitement for her turned into comparison and panic. Why is she so much more successful than me and WHAT IF I’M NEVER SUCCESSFUL EVER? I can get dramatic super fast when I want to.
So what is success exactly?
To ask this is similar to asking what kind of legacy you want to leave. At the end of your life, what do you want to see when you look back?
Right away, this should free us from looking at the girl next to us or on the screen because this is about YOUR life, not hers. I will never win an Oscar. This is fact. So if I set the bar of success at winning this award, I’ll always feel less than. Success for one is not success for another. In fact, here’s a whole list of things I’m freeing myself from finding success in: being a ballerina, singing on Broadway, operating on someone’s brain stem, borrowing Blake Lively’s jeans, sailing around the world, & dunking a basketball. I will never do those things, but that doesn’t mean I should feel less than when other people do them well! If I am confident in my personal definition of success, that means I can cheer people on for their success without feeling like my version isn’t as important. Your success doesn’t diminish mine. And my success sure as heck doesn’t diminish yours. Think about that. It’s easy to feel like your value is less when you see someone else achieve. But when you achieve, do you feel like other people’s success is less than because of it? No way. It’s a self-induced tangle of lies.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”
At the end of my life, I want to look back and see JOY. In the ordinary moments, in the moments of stress, in the hard times and the best, I want to see that my life was JOY and that my JOY made a difference in the lives of people. It won’t win awards or make money or get much attention. But if that’s what I see, I will see success.