I had a thought. In fact I have several of them and it’s Thursday so let’s discuss.
I have actually been thinking about this for awhile. Like ever since I decided that writing was my ticket to joy. It’s been an interesting ride because I haven’t had much success in the way that we typically define success. In fact, if I were a rock band I think I would be considered underground. And as a blogger, I think I’m considered irrelevant. Honestly, that viewpoint is one of the reasons I decided to get off of social media.
Going viral, having views and lots of followers. Constantly growing. All of that makes us appealing. It leads to sponsors and ads and notoriety and ultimately… money.
And isn’t that how we define success? By how much money something makes us?
I want to call bullshit on that and here’s why I think it’s fucked up.
When someone makes money on a passion project and they spend more time doing said project, we say they are working, nay, creating and we encourage them to do so.
When someone pursues passions that are not income producing, we tell them that they are wasting their time. They need to get their head out of the clouds. Maybe we even go as far as to say they are selfish for carving out time doing something that isn’t helping them get, I don’t know, stuff.
I mean, after all, it is the amount of stuff that someone has that makes us admire them, isn’t it? The more they can create a sense of envy in us, the more they can convince us to chase whatever they have, the more they promise that chasing it will create in us whatever elusive feeling it is that they have… the more we keep buying.
And now money (and stuff) isn’t the only way we define success. It’s the number of views and shares and clicks our online content receives.
Fucking social media.
If someone shares their story and it is poorly received then they are airing dirty laundry. However, if someone of stature shares the same story and it is well received, they are courageous. Inspirational even.
And honestly, I think the part that aggravates me most is that there is a direct correlation between whether or not something is well received to the popularity of the person saying it.
God, we love to do that. We love to hop on bandwagons and keep the already rolling ball going. We love to think that we had a small part in the success of another. We love to link ourselves to people who we think have some type of influence whenever we can.
And here I thought that popularity contests were limited to high school.
I can’t help but wonder. What if instead of praising those who go viral we praised those who are quietly sharing their souls on the sidelines. What if we stopped saying things like,
“you could or should write a book.”
and started saying things like, “keep writing.”
What if we stopped trying to be a part of something great and and started finding joy in doing things we think are great?
Now I know what you are thinking. You think I have ulterior motives because I am that writer who is on the side lines. My time spent writing produces exactly $0. I have exactly zero publishing opportunities and my book is dead in the water. I have no viral posts and the number of views my content receives would blow away exactly zero people. By every standard the world has set I am not a successful writer. The world says my writing is pointless, that I share things that shouldn’t be shared. I am wasting time when I could be making money.
But here’s the thing. When I write I come alive. My mind goes from all kinds of jumbled noise to peace and quiet.
When I hit publish on a post I get butterflies. It brings a certain adrenaline. Even though I know it won’t go anywhere, I find immense joy in the journey.
Here’s the weird part. I feel like a successful writer. Sure the ultimate dream would be to make a livable wage from writing but I’m writing and I love it and, dammit, that’s what should define success. And that thought leaves me with so many follow up questions.
What if we told dreamers to dream more and wake up less?
What if we told people to prioritize their passions? What if we told them that doing so would bring them less money but they will have more internal peace?
What if we replaced the emptiness of things with joy in our souls?
What if we didn’t let the world define our success and instead told the world we are successful?
What would the world look like with a bunch of people creating beautiful things while simultaneously silencing their minds?
What if we stopped measuring success by how big of a numerical impact the work creates within the world and instead measured success by how big of an impact the work creates within the creator?
Imagine the ripple effect.
We equate impact with influence but I’ve always believed that the ones who have the loudest impact are the ones who are quietly creating. Quiet creators craft from a place of truth. When we take truth from our insides and let them out, we are powerful and influential and successful.
The world has grown accustomed to… no… learned to thrive on, anger and confusion and chaos.
Quiet creators radiate joy and calm and peace.
And that matters.
So I guess I want to tell all the quiet creators… those on the sidelines without big numbers who are wondering if inner peace is enough of a payout…
Because that shit ripples out in all the best ways, man. And that is the kind of success that money can’t buy.