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What is success? Are you a success?

Success is a funny concept, isn’t it? What does success look like exactly?

Is it money? Fame?
Is it big lips and boobs? A huge house with a view? Is it working your way up the ladder until you’re the top dog?

Is that success?

I’m sure all of those things come with a high price. Perhaps success does not come for free, and if the price is indeed so very high, is it true success or some kind of trade?

I’ve been thinking a lot about success lately and what the word, or concept, means to me.
I’ve always been one of those people who gauges themselves by what they do.

I don’t think it’s a good thing or a bad thing, it’s just a thing – It doesn’t have to be unhealthy. Conversely, I always try to do ridiculous things that are quite hard to be successful at … take acting for instance.

A million years ago I actually used to write ‘ACTOR’ in the little box that asked your profession. It was never true in so far as I could pay my bills solely by my thespianism (that should so be a word, right?), but I treaded the boards and subjected myself to daily, weekly, then monthly auditions, complete with all the highs and lows that come with that process.

Highs: Being in two TV shows on TV in one day (sheer fluke with reruns)

Lows: Being in a room of slender beauties and being asked to show my six-pack stomach muscles, which were nestled firmly beneath a large layer of dimpled blubber.

Did I succeed or fail in my pursuit? Is the success in the trying to achieve, because true failure is surely never trying at all?

Anyway, I fairly well sucked at acting, so I reckon we could put that example in the ‘Not A Complete Success’ basket, but I did so enjoy that period of my life and I learned a hell of a lot from the process.

When Mister H recently did his Half Iron Man, I was so unbelievably blown away with the achievement, but he was a bit bummed with his performance.

*15 minutes*

15 minutes was the difference in the time he wanted and the time he got … after 5 and three-quarter hours, I’d have been well chuffed for making it to the finish line at all, let alone 15 minutes late.

It sounds so crazy to me when 15 minutes late is actually pretty good these days, even for someone who was once a punctuality Nazi, but I guess it was a personal goal and he had set what he thought would be an achievable level of success.

Recently, I launched two ebooks (you might have heard about them. I’m very famous in really, really small circles … my dinner table, for instance).

What will deem them a success?

Is actually writing them, whilst I have a baby on my breast and toddler on my apron strings, the success? Or is selling a million copies, becoming an overnight sensation and having a movie made about my life, starring Drew Barrymore, the success?

I guess we can safely say there are degrees of success, because Drew playing me is certainly not to be sniffed at. Perhaps, if I sucked a little less at acting I could play myself. Surely, it’s one audition I could nail. Definitely no abs required.

With more and more women establishing a career before motherhood, it’s not uncommon for motherhood to bring up a few identity issues (not to mention no sneaky income to purchase secret shoes with – ‘No, darling, I’ve had these for aaaaaaages’).

Questions rise like – “Who am I without my career? Where will I go next?”

In an era where we as women are told we can have both career and family, do we have to excel at both in order to be deemed a success amongst our peers?

Being a mother is the hardest, most unrelenting, job in the world. I don’t imagine that once the kids are at school it remains quite so challenging but until then, there’s a whacking great portion of your life that is totally consumed by this job … more so than any other job, except maybe the Prime Minister – that seems pretty 24/7, but I think even Jules gets a day off.

People often ask me when I’ll be returning to work, and it makes me feel as though being a stay-at-home mum is not enough to escape judgment of my ambition.

Even from myself.

Would I be a success if I worked part-time, or full-time, and juggled beautifully, or terribly, as the case may be?

As I get older my idea of success is altering.

Success is having an open and happy heart, despite the crap you’ve had to overcome in your life.

Success is nurturing friendships that fulfill you and nurture you back.

Success is happy children that know that they are loved and supported.

Success is not being afraid to try new things, because stagnation is the true failure.

Hell, sometimes success is a day where I wear matching socks and didn’t turn to the bottle before midday.

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3 comments so far -

  1. Great theme Mrs Holsy! Relevant to us all. I work part time from home but think I would feel more successful if I didn’t. Then I could give my kids more special times and undivided attention. The periods I didn’t work and just was with Elka were more fulfilling.
    But…I am still hugely driven by success. It’s my preppie upbringing that fuels my fear of failure. Like you though my standards have changed.
    PS I too wanted to be an actor at some point. I guess blogging has a lot in common with acting.

  2. Great post Mrs Holsby – dare I say it was successful? I grapple with these questions all the time. I have a handful of friends who juggle motherhood and a blisteringly hot career and quite frankly I feel like an underachiever by comparison. Nevertheless I have the family, I though I’d never get and I’m in a financial position where I can devote most of my time to caring for them. The career bit has been put on hold for now but very few people can succeed at everything at the same time.

    • Life is made of many chapters, and one day, when our kids are grown and have left the nest, we’ll look back on this chapter and be thankful that we were able to spend the time we did……most of the time anyway.
      I’d give back that afternoon spent scrubbing the permanent marker out of the carpet!!

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