Success: a nausating word

Something has changed, I realized. Something in the past couple of weeks has shifted and I became calmer, kinder to myself and more at ease. I think I finally understand what it was – and I am afraid to say it out loud because I could jinx it. It is success.

Success has become, in my view, a nauseating, toxic word. It is one of the buzz words of these days along with the likes of creativity, happiness, passion and purpose. All of these we are told to find, chase, achieve, become. They turn into shapeless clouds, into ends in themselves, and they delude a fellow until a fellow realizes their true essence: just like clouds, they are empty. You cannot grasp them; you cannot bind them. You cannot put them into your pockets and bring them to your friends saying ‘look, I’ve got them all!’

Success was one of the biggies for me, I think. Seeing it online and on social – the image that was supposed to be “success” – it tended to get inside my head and gnaw on me. Finally it has lost its power when I specified what success means to me. I realized that most of the stuff that used to make me jealous and/or frustrated, is not something I want to have, want to do, want to be. Therefore it has nothing to do with me. It is other peoples’ business. Success was a word that held (and someday still may hold) a distinct power over me. Only after I turned it into words, specified what it is for me and what it isn’t, did I break its power. And suddenly, there was a sense of peace.

The funny part is I knew the lesson all along – “don’t care about other peoples’ business,” or in a more poetic form: “stop giving a fuck about it.” And yet it took a long time before it clicked and changed. I have seen this more often lately – things happen in their own time. I tell myself: ‘pursue them, but let them evolve, too.’

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About Petr Klíma