I Used To Believe Success Was A Linear Progression, Now I Know It's Not

I Used To Believe Success Was A Linear Progression, Now I Know It's Not

An unhealthy drive.
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My biggest weakness is how hard I am on myself. I put a lot of pressure on myself to succeed. I think if I'm not doing everything in my power to succeed right at that moment, then I'm not using my time wisely. I'm always thinking about the future and what my next move is. And if I don't feel like I'm doing enough to be impressive or successful, I feel really bad about myself.

I put too much pressure on myself to look impressive and to look successful. I need to appear driven, balanced and determined at all times. I don't even allow myself to consider what makes me happy. In the last six months, I've pushed myself farther than I should have. I took on way too many responsibilities, and I felt miserable at all times. I didn't even do a good job of balancing them. I felt like if I wasn't pushing myself to get experience and improve my resume, I wasn't allowed to feel proud of myself. I never just allow my accomplishments are "enough". Although a healthy amount of drive is good, there is a line, and I tend to cross it.

I've recently let go of a lot of responsibilities, and I've begun to do the things that make me happy, rather than the things that make me look impressive. Trying to conform to what I believe society deems "successful" is exhausting and unhealthy. I have a lot more free time now than I've had in over a year, and it feels scary and exciting.

I've taken a lot of pressure off myself, and even though I have those negative thoughts telling me I'm not doing enough to feel good about myself, I have never felt more content and balanced with my life.

I used to believe success was a linear progression. I used to think there were certain steps to take to get where you're going until you finally arrive. But success and life are nothing like that. There are high's and low's and plateau's all the time. Some chapters in our life are meant to end, and that's OK. Some things that used to be good for us can no longer be good for us, and that's OK. We can change our minds, we can change our direction, and we can change our goals. There is one pathway to a successful life, and I need to learn to take my own path and not the one I believe society expects me to take.

I'm currently in a transitional period of where I don't know where I'm going and exactly what I want, and I'm trying to find joy and excitement at this stage. I want to live life in the present, and I want to be happy to be where I am right now. Although goals and a drive to succeed are important, it's just as important to be happy in the present and content with what we have now. I know that one day I'll figure out all the things that confuse me right now, and I'm doing great where I am right now.

Cover Image Credit: Jolie Delia

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Working With People Who Are Dying Teaches You So Much About How To Live

Spending time with hospice patients taught me about the art of dying.

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Death is a difficult subject. It is addressed differently across cultures, lifestyles, and religions, and it can be difficult to find the right words to say when in the company of someone who is dying. I have spent a lot of time working with hospice patients, and I bore witness to the varying degrees of memory loss and cognitive decline that accompany aging and disease. The patients I worked with had diverse stories and interests, and although we might have had some trouble understanding each other, we found ways to communicate that transcended any typical conversation.

I especially learned a lot from patients severely affected by dementia.

They spoke in riddles, but their emotions were clearly communicated through their facial expressions and general demeanor, which told a story all on their own. We would connect through smiles and short phrases, yes or no questions, but more often than not, their minds were in another place. Some patients would repeat the details of the same event, over and over, with varying levels of detail each time. Others would revert to a child-like state, wondering about their parents, about school, and about family and friends they hadn't seen in a long time.

I often wondered why their minds chose to wander to a certain event or time period and leave them stranded there before the end of their life. Was an emotionally salient event reinforcing itself in their memories?

Was their subconscious trying to reconnect with people from their past? All I could do was agree and follow their lead because the last thing I wanted to do was break their pleasant memory.

I felt honored to be able to spend time with them, but I couldn't shake the feeling that I was intruding on their final moments, moments that might be better spent with family and loved ones. I didn't know them in their life, so I wondered how they benefited from my presence in their death. However, after learning that several of the patients I visited didn't have anyone to come to see them, I began to cherish every moment spent, whether it was in laughter or in tears. Several of the patients never remembered me. Each week, I was a new person, and each week they had a different variation of the same story that they needed to tell me. In a way, it might have made it easier to start fresh every week rather than to grow attached to a person they would soon leave.

Usually, the stories were light-hearted.

They were reliving a memory or experiencing life again as if it were the first time, but as the end draws nearer, a drastic shift in mood and demeanor is evident. A patient who was once friendly and jolly can quickly become quiet, reflective, and despondent. I've seen patients break down and cry, not because of their current situation, but because they were mourning old ones. These times taught me a lot about how to be just what that person needs towards the end of their life. I didn't need to understand why they were upset or what they wanted to say.

The somber tone and tired eyes let me know that what they had to say was important and worth hearing. What mattered most is that someone who cared was there to hear it.

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4 Things I Wish High School Me Knew

Every day has a purpose.

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People don't give high school enough credit for having the ability to shape your life. It can build you or it can break you and often times there is no in between. As I enter into my senior year of college I have reflected a lot on my college career and how it really has been the best years of my life up to this point, but I know that without a doubt my life would have been so different in I would have known these things as a high schooler.

1. Your life is valuable

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. - Ephesians 2:4-7

2. You aren't defined by your singleness. 

Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you by the gazelles and by the does of the field: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires. - Song of Solomon 2:7

4. You aren't going to fit in

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. - Romans 12:2

4. Your clothes aren't going to fit forever, don't spend all of your money on them 

Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions." - Luke 12:15

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