For most of my life, I have been in a perpetual state of trying to accomplish the next thing.
Ironically, or perhaps as should be expected, I have rarely felt as though the project I just finished is worthy of personal praise. This innate autistic perfectionism, this strong desire to do “enough,” has wounded me time and time again.
In the past, I have used concrete accomplishments to measure success. I thought to myself, if I can just earn the next degree, I’ll feel successful. If I can just make a bit more money I’ll be satisfied with my career. If I can just complete the next step I’ll find fulfillment. I have defined my value by how others may perceive me, instead of by who I am. I have looked at it all wrong.
Success isn’t rooted in a fancy job title, high-end salary, or impressive resume sheet. It is highly-individualized and should be defined by how we feel about ourselves and the world surrounding us. We are here to build a life, not make a living.
The truth is, I like my life. I enjoy working with children– and, I am good at it. It is important and worthy work. I enjoy making music– and, I am good at it. It is important and worthy work. All work is important and worthy work.
I do not bring in an impressive amount of money, but I am not lacking in life. I am not struggling or deficient in the things I need. I could certainly switch to a more traditionally-professional path and be a bigger “success” on paper, but my life would be short on passion. It would not be worth the loss of self-actualization. I have enough, and I do enough. This life I am living, it is enough.
Maybe your goals in life are a bit heftier than mine. Perhaps the thought of being a doctor or lawyer or CEO truly sets your soul on fire. If so, you should do it. You should fearlessly pursue whatever sparks your passion. Just be sure you are doing the right things for the right reasons.
I believe the only way to reach the top of the proverbial mountain is to stop climbing. Stop planning and problem solving. Stop scaling and sweating and persevering. Just stop. Look around, and you will see that you are already there.
Don’t ever stop working towards your passions and goals, but DO stop waiting for them to validate your existence.
Bloom where you are planted.
- Advice for Raising NeuroDivergent Children - April 27, 2020
- Autistic Acceptance vs. Autism Awareness - August 12, 2019
- On Autistic Perfectionism - April 13, 2019
Great post, it had me thinking back to the 1980s, the age of the go go go yuppie lifestyle where everyone thought they had to make loads of money to be successful. I see the folly of that these days.
I relate to this a lot.