I’ve been thinking a lot about success lately. Am I successful? What does it even really mean to be successful?
It’s a question I wrote about a few years ago while I was still in grad school. At the time I definitely didn’t feel successful. I felt like a hot mess. Even now, 2 years later, I still pretty much just feel like a hot mess.
For me, and I’m sure for many of you, my definition of success revolves around money. Success = Money. I’m not saying that’s the correct way to think about it, but it’s how so many of us have been conditioned to think about success since a young age.
And if that’s the definition we are basing success on, I am not successful. At this point in time I’m barely scrapping by.
A few months ago someone from my former grad school reached out to me. One of my professors recommended me to be featured as a student success story. At first I laughed — uh, you want to feature me of all people? I’m a yoga teacher and blogger. I am hardly using my business school degree. Maybe I’m not the person you want to prominently feature on your program’s page.
Well, the feature went live last week. And they did still include me, in all my yoga teacher glory. [You can check out the feature here]
I remember applying to grad school (and even undergrad) and reading student success stories from graduates of whatever program. Seeing this feature *live* and on the internet hit me with pang of self doubt. Am I successful? Sure, I run this blog that yes I do make money off of. And yes, I am proud to work at an incredible yoga studio in a city city that’s super competitive for fitness instructors.
But is this what success looks like? I sure don’t feel like my grad school’s poster child for success.
Omg Kayla, you’re totally crushing it.
It’s a comment I hear maybe once a week from friends or people I’m catching up with in regards to my teaching career and this blog. Because they see I have however many followers on Instagram. Or a fancy partnership on the blog. And I’m teaching 12+ yoga classes a week.
But as I’m sure you are sensing: I don’t feel like I’m crushing it.
Compared to other bloggers that have been around a fraction of the time and yet were able to quit their full-time job [and apparently double their income along the way]. Compared to people with thousands more instagram followers than me or page views. Even compared to other fitness instructors that are filling up their classes or getting super cool features because they have such an intense following.
Spoiler alert: I don’t have the answer for what success actually looks like. Is it financial stability like I’ve been told my whole life? I don’t know.
This is something I’m grappling with right now in my life.
The ironic thing is when I think about when I felt the most successful [career-wise at least] it’s also when I secretly also felt the most miserable.
It’s when I had the fancy title of head of social media and marketing at a [now] major start-up. But I spent most days at work fighting back tears because my bosses were so cruel. And I had no work/life balance.
It’s when I felt proud to boast that I was a theater major at NYU/Tisch. While I don’t regret my 4 years at NYU, my experience in the theater program was far from dreamy. But I liked how it sounded when I said I went to NYU/Tisch. And I liked the reaction I got from people in return.
I am carving out my own path for myself as a yoga teacher, blogger, writer, etc. Doing things my way and following my own rules. So maybe that means I need to start redefining success in a way that makes more sense for me and this career path I am going down.
Am I financially successful right now? Uh, barely.
But am I really proud of the work I do? Yes. Happy with the path I am currently on? Yes. Excited for whatever is to come next? Fuck yes.
Maybe that’s my version of success right now.