The more I delved, the more aware I became of an undercurrent of shame that was slowly simmering inside of me. It was the feeling that something was dreadfully wrong with me if I was not willing to do whatever it takes, like the underdogs in the books.
Didn’t I have any faith in the universal laws that turned out Oprahs and J.K. Rowlings and an endless stream of other success stories? Why, it might be as simple as manifesting my destiny with positive thinking, or mindfulness, or a cream cheese bagel for all I knew.
No dice. Guess I’m just not built for success.
And yet at some point, maybe just for fun, I began to consider an alternative: What if most of the people I know are more like me than them—you know, busy with life, proud of themselves when they hit “good enough,” happy to have work that is more or less satisfying, even if it’s not tremendously lucrative or glamorous?
What if others don’t view themselves as a rags-to-riches tale waiting to happen and instead walk around with their heads held high simply because they are proud of the ordinary lives they are living?
It felt subversive, empowering, and indeed nothing short of revolutionary.
Success doesn’t have to mean a coastal beach house or getting up to speak in front of a crowded audience where everyone knows just who you are, what you do, and how much you’re worth.
There is a quieter, softer form of success.