Success: Only your opinion counts.
What quantifies success exactly? Is it what we achieve or what people perceive us achieving? Tomorrow someone will wake up and change the world in their own small way. They might give a homeless person a hot meal, they might decide to vote in a local election or they might decide to get out of bed after weeks of feeling like they don't want to.
On the other hand people might see someone doing something kind and think that they're doing it for self-gratification. They might see a person pursuing their own agenda to the detriment of those that disagree with them. They might see someone who finally snapped out of whatever funk they have been stuck in.
I think people's perceptions of us matter too much. I have noticed something very clear about people who manage success: at a certain point they stop caring what people think of them and they just get on with it. Critics will throw shit at them constantly but they plow on anyway, why? Well for a start usually they've realised how much opinions account for nothing.
When I was at school, we're talking 2004/5 there was this massive tsunami that engulfs coastal asia, it's awful, it's a horrific act of mother nature. I cared, and I didn't really have any way of helping. Then, I return to school and they decide we're going to do an assembly about it. Being the young poet I was, I wrote a poem. Whilst I don't have a now 13 year old poem to hand, it was incredibly repetitive:
"A calm, a calm a never ending calm"
When I was asked to rewrite it, I refused. Even at 15 years old I had artistic integrity enough to know that my intentions for my work stood in the realm of something tangible to me: the artist.
The idea of waves suddenly becoming monsters. The tyrant that is the sea, never ending, never stopping and the idea of something calm becoming infuriating was clear. It worked. It made people uncomfortable because that was my intention.
In the eyes of outsiders, this was a mistake, it was stupid: it wasn't even poetry. In my eyes it was a success. As a writer I'd made my point, and I refused to move on it. It was a small, defiant victory for me, mocked by my geography teacher, mocked by my classmates, but a victory nonetheless and one I stand by.
You see, success is all about perception. Not anyone else's perception, because let's be fair, people never like it when you're doing better than they are, at least not initially. Our own perceptions of our success define us, When we see a person breaking their own limits and you can't help but feel a little butt-hurt that you aren't quite where they are, yet, it's human nature and evolution at play. We are born to compete. We are born to survive, but we forget one vital fact t the core of ourselves:
We are the result of millions of years of evolution at play and we are here. We already overcame the biggest obstacle in the universe and that is to simply exist.
So what if people don't agree with your method? So-the fuck-what if people mock you for working towards something greater than yourself? OWN IT, because no one else is going to own it for you. Damn straight, if you work for that success and you manage it, you deserve to be happy about it.
Fourteen year old me and twenty-eight year old me both approve of this message and we are proud of you for making yourself better, even if other people aren't.