Far too often we look at other people’s lives to measure our own success. This is often most acute with women as we are often inclined to benchmark our lives based on whether we have acquired engagement rings, wedding dresses, and babies. This also shows up as judging ourselves too harshly for not having the right amount of zeroes in our bank account, too many numbers on a scale, an apartment instead of a house, a bae instead of a husband or a wife, or an administrative job instead of an executive title. But I’m learning that the yardstick of success isn’t just for the big moments, it’s also for the small victories, too.
Earlier this week, I literally had to run out of my apartment one afternoon because I was driving myself insane with worry and fear. Once I got outside, I decided to go to a nearby restaurant just to clear my head. Just as I was leaving, a new friend was coming in and I stayed a little while longer to chat with her. I thank God that he always sends the right people into my day to talk with me just when I need it. She said exactly what I needed to hear in that moment: “Leah, as long as you are here in New York, you are going to have times where you feel like you are going crazy. This is normal. You are going to be OK.” In that moment, my success wasn’t measured by a new book deal, a new tube of MAC lipstick, or a fabulous night out in the city. My success that day was just to keep on keeping on.
Success isn’t just the big days like a graduation, a promotion, or a wedding. Sometimes success is having friends there when you need them, knowing when to ask for help, learning how to say “No,” and being adult enough to say, “I’ve had enough.” A yardstick is comprised of inches, feet, and meters. Before we can get to the meters, we have to learn to appreciate and celebrate EVERY inch of our journey.
You are already successful right where you just as you are right now. The fact that you decided to get out of bed this morning is a victory. The fact that you kept your sanity in the midst of calamity is cause for a celebration. The fact that you held your tongue on days or in moments where you wanted to let someone have it is a joy that only you can give to yourself.
I’m learning that using anyone else’s yardstick to measure my life is a surefire way to short circuit my joy and minimize my victories. Success looks different in every person’s life. What may be a huge breakthrough for me could just be just a small milestone for someone else. When it comes to celebrating your life, don’t use anyone else’s story to gauge your success. Bring your own yardstick.