I recently spent some time with my older brother, and I found myself reflecting on our varying levels of success.
You see, by most people’s measures my older brother is a very successful man: a high paying job, a loving wife, kids who only drive him crazy most of the time, etc etc. I, on the other hand, am single and have a day job for which “high paying” would be an inaccurate descriptor. Even factoring in the years that separate us, most people would probably say that I come up wanting in the comparison.
I don’t see it that way. I have different goals in life, and different things that I value. I value freedom, the time to pursue my dreams, and the opportunity to make great art. By these criteria I feel like I have been very successful so far, and am even more optimistic for the future.
Others will tell you that you’re a failure if you don’t prescribe to the narrow view of success by which society judges us. Don’t let them do it. Set down what is important to you, what being successful is for you, and then do that. Ignore the rest.
Think of it this way – by my criteria for success, my brother is an abject failure. Is that fair? Of course not, because I would be judging him based on criteria designed for me. Why should you let anyone else do the same to you?
Don’t play their game. Play yours. That’s the only way to win, and to be happy doing it.