… we would redefine our definition of success

I’ve always said that if you look at someone before the age of 5, you can see what they are meant to do. I suppose it would have to be earlier now that people send their children to school almost the minute they’re born. Still, the principle holds true.

If you watch a child before the world gets hold of them and tells them what is “hip”, “cool”, will make them rich, popular and loved … you can see who they really are. That’s no easy task since the people in the best position to observe these tiny humans are the parents and parenting seems to be a lost art.

I’m not saying people don’t still look forward to parenting and claim it’s “the most valuable job in the world” but talk is cheap. We don’t treat parenting as though it matters. We know it’s a full-time job but few of us think it’s worth OUR time. It’s become a part time job, juggled with our “career” while we farm the kids out to daycare, nannies, kindergarten, afterschool programs, before school programs, weekend activities and summer camps.

We do all this, ironically, because parenting is not “enough” to make us feel “successful”. It’s not “hip”, “cool” or important enough.

If we saw our children as gifts, sent to us for a period of time, we might do a better job of caretaking them. If we appreciated our children as much as we do, say the vegetables in our garden, we might concentrate on giving them the very best soil and fertilizer we could. We might not try to make a tomato into a carrot. We might accept each individual for being what he was created to be, just as we accept all tomatoes, the large beefsteak as much as the small cherry variety. We might give each one the fertilizer and sunlight it needs to insure every grows to become the very best, richest, sweetest, ripest, juiciest version of himself he could possibly be. We might, but we don’t because we have adopted the crazy notion that we can alter who our children were born to be.

We were taught, growing up that there are narrow rules for being successful. The public school system spends 12 years pounding that message into us. Children are tested, graded and judged every step of the way. Instead of spending energy to help children become the best version of themselves, we give them rigid rules for success and tell them to squeeze themselves into that mold. It does not work.

How much longer before we admit, you cannot turn a tomato into a carrot? We are what we are and ultimately will do what we are called to do. The “system’s” only real success is in making most of us waste years of our lives trying to “find our purpose”. When who we innately are does not line up with what we’ve been told will bring “success”, we spend years feeling “unsuccessful” and bad about not having “fulfilled our potential” or achieving success. We feel like underachievers.

Sure, there’s a small group of society that follows the success plan “successfully”. They complete college, maybe get a doctorate or other “degree”. They’ll end up with all the outward signs of success and every bit as many insecurities as the rest of us. Of course their downfall is that with no outward signs of failure, they beat themselves up even more, wondering what’s wrong with them that they’re still not fulfilled. it often takes until midlife to figure out that their living someone else’s idea of success – which neglected to include “happiness”. Enter midlife crisis.

If I were queen of the world we would be forced to redefine our definition of success, forced to admit that;
1) the only definition of success is “happiness”
2) no one has the ability to tell whether someone else is “successful”.
3) therefore we must ALL stop pushing the responsibility of defining success onto others, get a backbone, step up and define success for ourselves.

Once we did that, we would have no yardstick to judge each other by. We’d be forced to live up to our own standards, which we all know are much higher than someone else’s. We would listen to our own inner voice, do what we love and never stop. We would all become an accidental expert but we would keep going. We would have no intention to get it “right” because we would know that there is no such thing. There is only the love of doing.

If I were queen of the world I would give everyone that gift.

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