What is success? According to www.dictionary.com, this is what it is:
the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors.
the attainment of wealth, position, honors, or the like.
a successful performance or achievement: The play was an instant success.
a person or thing that is successful: She was a great success on the talk show.
Obsolete . outcome.
As you can see, there are many definitions for success. We each measure it differently. What may be considered a success by me may not be considered a success by you. We should be careful in our evaluations of others in what we measure to be successful or not successful. Let me illustrate:
Many years ago a man I went to high school with made a comment to a mutual friend who then told me what he had said. He made some hurtful comments about me and basically said that he was a success because he had moved out of our small town, traveled the world, and lived in many different cities. I, on the other hand, had moved back to our small town after I got married and was a stay-at-home mom at the time to my three young children. We lived on the family ranch outside of town - where we still live today. My husband nor I had our college degrees and our monthly income was pretty meager at the time. So, by this man's definition, I was a failure and he was a success.
It wasn't what he said, but how critical he was of my life that was hurtful. It took me a long time to forgive him, but a few years ago he apologized and I did forgive him. I recognize that he didn't understand my life any more than I understood his and we were both in the wrong for assuming something about the other. It taught me a valuable lesson in that I should be careful in judging other people in the manner in which they choose to live their lives. We never know the path another person has taken to get them to their current point in life and we should be careful about the assumptions we make because we will probably be wrong in them.
As another result of this experience, I began to believe I was a failure. I allowed negative thoughts to creep in that damaged my self esteem. It took me many years to feel good about my life again and to know that I had in fact made the correct life choices for me and to see that my life is exactly what I wanted it to be. It is always easier to see when you look back though.
I still haven't gotten my college degree. I'm close to getting my Associate's Degree, but had to stop again when I went back to work seven years ago. My husband is not made for college and that's okay with me. I knew that when I married him and I love him for who he is. We knew that when we moved back to our small town we would be sacrificing our chances for having a job that paid well. We decided it was more important to raise our kids around family and in a safe place than to have the luxuries of the world. We knew we would never be rich and that was okay with us. Money has never been at the top of our priority list. We have always chosen to place our family above anything else. We have never looked at our jobs as careers. We view our jobs as a means to an end. We work to bring in money so we can pay the bills. Nothing more, nothing less. We don't live for a career. We live for our family. That is the most important thing to us.
I'm in a good place in my life now. I will celebrate my twentieth wedding anniversary in a few months. I'm sending my oldest daughter off to college in a little less than two months. My son is close to finishing up his merit badges to receive his Eagle Scout award. In two years my husband will be eligible to retire from his job at the age of 44. If all goes according to plan we will be 100% debt free in about five years.
We have sacrificed much to get to this point. We have gone without. We have lived with less. We have traveled only a little. We will never be rich. I may or may not ever be able to get that college degree I've always wanted. (But I really hope that is in my future!) I may never get to travel to foreign countries or meet famous people. But I have been blessed. We are healthy. We are happy. My kids are safe. I have food to put on the table and clothes to put on our backs. I can pay my bills and have a little left over for a rainy day. I have good friends and good family. I live in a safe place, full of good people. I know who I am - a daughter of God - and I know where I am going - to live with Him again. What more could anyone want? Life is good. And when I measure my life in those terms, my life is more successful than I could have ever hoped for.