Finding my own Definition of Success

Loving the view from this side of 24.

You know it’s funny to look back and think how time has changed. Or rather how time has changed me.

In 5 short years I’ve moved out of home, gone flatting for the first time, completed my bachelor’s degree, almost burnt myself out doing honours, been crazy enough to sign on for a master’s degree, finished said master’s in record time, trained as a teacher, worked almost 2 years as a teacher, met the girl of my dreams, finally recognised that she’s the girl of my dreams, fallen in love with her, moved in with her, married her, been married for almost 2 years, found a spiritual community, fallen out of love with dance, fallen back in love with dance, landed myself in a moonboot in pursuit of my love of dance, recovered from the whole moonboot experience, and best of all built a home.

No, not literally built a home. Come on, I’m crafty but I’m not that talented.

No, what I actually mean is that I’ve built the life I want to live.

And a big part of that has come from realising that my dreams, are in fact quite simply my own.

That took me a long time to realise.
Growing up as the daughter of the nineties, I got told the same thing we all did:

You’ve got brains. You can be anything you want to be.

Great! Awesome! Anything. Fantastic! It was basically a free license to follow my passion.

Only it kind of wasn’t.

There was kind of this unsaid, unspoken expectation that I’d go on to be something glamorous and high-powered, and kinda flashy.

For me, this meant photojournalist. Travelling the world, taking pictures that would grace the cover of national geographic, going to dangerous places, never settling down, not having to worry about other people, being my own person.

Or maybe I’d be work for an NGO – the Red Cross or the United Nations – in a war zone, saving lives, helping others. Always helping, always caring, never actually pausing to truly love.

Clearly I’m not either of these things, and I know very few people who would call being a teacher ‘high-powered or glamorous’. And to be totally frank, it’s not. It’s so unbelievably not.

And that’s why I love it.

Sure there are some days when I think a little bit longingly of the dreams I had a as a teenager. Who doesn’t? But those dreams weren’t the right ones for me.

For, as much as lusted after that high-powered career, the dreams I was pursuing were so one-sided, so career-heavy. As an innocent 19-year-old I didn’t know, and hadn’t stopped to find out how much more there was to life than having a career.

I’ve changed a lot from my 19-year-old-self and much as I love that idealistic dreamer, I love the 24-year-old-me even more.

I still get to save the world, just one student at a time. I still get to take photos of things that matter, but now I teach my students about the power of images too. I’ve still had the chance to travel but I got take my best friend along, and I knew that I had a home full of laughter and love to come back to rather than an empty apartment. I’m still idealistic, but now I get to see those ideals manifest in my own community. I’m still independent, but I’ve also felt the pure joy of being interdependent too. I get to wake up and do something everyday that inspires me, challenges me and makes my laugh in so many ways. And best of all,  I’ve had the privilege of loving someone so deeply, and being loved in return.

And I am so grateful that this is what my life looks like and that I’ve been able to choose it. As unglamorous and ordinary as it might seem to my peers who choose the big career and independence, it’s the only way I’d choose to live, because you know what, I am so unbelievably happy.

What about you? What is your definition of a success?




6 thoughts on “Finding my own Definition of Success

  1. Emma A says:

    Well said! I remember freaking out at the end of 7th form trying to work out what I was going to DO with my life. Having the option of absolutely anything is actually pretty daunting. I’m still figuring out what to do with my life, one day at a time, as I live it. Now the thing daunting me is what I’ll do once the girls start school and I go back to work.

  2. purplemagnolia says:

    Thanks Emma! I can understand being daunted by that, I guess you have still have a couple of years up your sleeve to decide. It’s a journey though, and I guess as long as you’re following the things that make you happy it’s going to work out.

  3. Aimee says:

    It amazes me how similar our respective journeys, thus far, have been! I am so with you on all of this. Isn’t life beautiful. xo

  4. sophie hoff says:

    Just found your blog today and it has been lovely reading 🙂 can especially associate with being a child of the 90s! Nightmare.. But am slowly getting my head round things, blogs like this help me feel more sane lol 🙂

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