A few weeks ago I stood in the drive thru window of the coffee shop I work at and told one of our regular customers, a psychologist, that I am one of those "success stories" you hear about. This offhand comment got me thinking about what it means to be a success. What is success? How do you know when you are successful? I believe that you are a success when you claim it. We all have the power to own our successes and our failures and define what it means to be successful, or what it means to not be successful. I am successful because I have overcome so many obstacles which have stood in the way of living a full life.
Success is what you make of it.
We make choices every day which affect our outlook. We have the power to choose how we perceive those life events surrounding us. For a long time I was consumed by this desire to compare my life to those of my classmates I graduated high school from. People who I deemed less intelligent than me were working "real" jobs while I was struggling with the ups and downs of bipolar disorder, struggling to come out of the closet and embrace who I was, who I am. I saw myself as a failure and felt (and still feel, let's be honest) as though I was wasting time learning how to manage this illness.
The biggest success I can claim however, is that I am still here, in a very real, very physical sense. I am still here, and I am showing up to my life in a way I never thought I could before. I have dreams and goals and I am fighting to achieve them. That wasn't always the case. I spent around 7 years of my life using all of my energy to fight against and learn how to manage the way my brain works. Learning which medicines helped and which hurt, learning how to cope with stress and how to stop hating myself because I happen to like girls. In 2006 I applied for disability and was turned down, and something about that experience triggered this stubborn asshole part of myself and I decided I wasn't going to let this illness control my life anymore. And so I started fighting instead of simply surviving.
I went back to college that fall, and while there decided I had to deal with the fact that I am attracted to women. I came out to friends, family, my church and dealt with being told that I was not good enough for the God I loved because of who I loved, as well as because of my mental health issues. I survived, and in doing so I slowly started moving towards thriving. Towards managing my illness instead of being controlled by it.
I am one of those success stories you hear about. But that is because I choose to view my life through the lens of success. Whatever is holding you back, whether it is mental health issues or any of the many things we let overwhelm us in life, remember, You are powerful beyond comprehension. We have the power to frame the way we view the world, and can take control of our perception.
You are a raging success. Every day you get out of bed and do the best you can, even if the best you can is simply getting out of bed, is a success. Success changes day-to-day. Some days success is checking off every check on the to-do list, and some days success is getting out of bed and brushing your teeth before getting back into bed. Some days success is only letting yourself THINK about self harm and not act on it. Success looks different for every person, every day.
YOU ARE A RAGING SUCCESS!
Embrace it. Claim it. Lay hold to it.