How I measure success?

I often time beat myself up because I am not as far a long as I would like to be in life. I am not in a relationship; I don’t have a family or kids; I don’t have an exciting career; I am not even living on my own; I feel left behind. I compare myself to the people I had grown up with and all the achievements they have made; while I sometimes feel like a failure. But then I remember all the obstacles that came my way; I remember difficulties in school due to learning disabilities; I was very smart but the mainstream way of teaching was not getting through to me; I felt left behind and it is because I have my own style of learning things and I have learned to adapt over the years. It’s probably why I struggled in high school yet thrived in college; for example I would get lost if I was trying to take notes during a lecture; I couldn’t keep up with the professor; my handwriting was illegible and I didn’t learn a thing. It wasn’t until I just listened to the lecture and studied twice as hard before a test; that I was able to do well at college. To me since I do have learning disabilities; just functioning in a classroom and getting passing grades to me is a success; it may seem small to someone else but to me it is a big deal because I never thought I’d be doing so well in school or getting so close to a degree; it was a nice pipe dream but I didn’t think it would actually happen ( although it has taken me many years)

I think back to the emotional difficulties I faced as a kid and how difficult it was to make friends. I just had such trouble relating to others; being able to hold a conversation; managing my feelings appropriately; all of this was extremely difficult for me. I used to act in anger all the time ( I have my moments but I have improved) and it got me kicked out of many schools and sent away to treatment centers and I look back and wish that if I had just controlled my anger; I could have stayed in regular high school and maybe been more successful. I look at myself and I am a lot calmer than I used to; I handle situations a hell of of lot better than in the past. I manage my anxiety by writing; working out and reaching out to my friends ; I don’t have to act out anymore. Writing has been my saving grace and has allowed me to make sense of all these complex emotions I face on the daily. While I still have trouble making friends; I put myself out there more; I am more involved in helping others; I try to meet other people who share my interests. I am actually going to a poetry reading tonight for the first time and I’m pretty excited and a little nervous ( although I won’t share) but these are things are I never did before because I was fearful. I face my fears these days and you can’t be successful if you are under constant fear and afraid to take risks; you can’t have success without risk.

For most people having a job is something you just do; you get up; get ready for work and put in your 8 hour/40 hr a week a job; they don’t realize that for some people going to work can be very difficult; both on a emotional and a physical level. I, like so many other Americans suffer from a number of disabilities and working has always been difficult for me. For me being on my feet 8 hours a way; dealing with a bad stomach and co-workers and bosses that don’t seem to give a shit can make the work day seem impossible; those 8 hours can be daunting. But I have gotten to a point ( believe or not) where I get up everyday; I get ready; out the door without any complaints; I just do it because it needs to get done. I hate working but I can’t expect anyone to carry me financially; I have bills that need to be paid and as far as I know working is the only way to make money ( legally at least) Today I manage to be as productive as possible and stay out of everyone’s way; I don’t talk about anyone or antagonize my co-workers; I ignore the bullshit and the gossiping because I want make my day as productive as possible. So I try to keep my emotions in check and that is very hard when you have a controlling store manager or backstabbing co-workers but I tell myself this is temporary and soon I will be on to bigger and better things; no need to be negative; this was not happening in the past. I was such a miserable person to be around in my previous job; I was spiteful and was the biggest shit talker you’ve ever met; I was in physical pain and I took it out on anyone I could find; I am truly ashamed of my behavior and wish I could take it back. At that time my stress was through the roof and every workday was an ordeal. I remember at my old job there was this new guy and he was pretty extroverted and able to make friends with everyone pretty quickly. He came back to me one day and she said some girl there told him that all I did was talk bad about people; I felt hurt at my behavior. Nowadays I don’t act that way at all; I respect others; I don’t complain; I do my stint at work and I go home; like everyone else. I am proud of the worker I am today and I would call that success. It may not be financial success but I have a steady income; work more hours; havE better relationships with my co-workers. Sometimes I can’t believe how much things have changed. I feel the person I was 7 or 8 years ago no longer exists; but it took a lot of work to get here; it didn’t happen overnight. But nonetheless the last two years of employment have been a success in my book.

This blog isn’t all about me though; success is subjective;dependent upon your situation. I also don’t want this post to seem self centered or self pitying; I hope someone can read it and feel inspired by it and strive for their own successes. There may be someone reading this that has such severe depression they can’t get out of bed. They may spend most of those days sleeping or lost in their sadness; unable to get off the couch. Success to them may mean meeting a friend for lunch or joining a class. Success may mean going back into to therapy and having that safe place to express their feelings. Or someone could have a physical disability and they managed to get in their wheelchair and go to the grocery store or the park and that is success. Someone may have stomach problems like me and they finally managed to find a diet that works and go a day without being sick and that is a huge success for them. Or how about someone is bi-polar who manages to get hired at their first job and the pride that comes with getting that first paycheck after being broke for so many years. Most people without difficulties don’t look at these things as achievements because they take their health for granted. They figure I can work 40 hours a week; why can’t they?. Success is a personal thing and is not always measured in terms of money, huge achievements or relationships; it’s the little things. Am I a better person than I used to be? Do I handle situations better than in the past? Have I learned to take care of myself both emotionally or physically? Some of us face so many obstacles but we can’t give up and we can’t let the world dictate to us what success means. We have to strive for success on our own terms and be proud of our achievements; even if it just means getting out of bed today. So thank you for as always for taking the time to read my blog and take care of yourselves.




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14 thoughts on “How I measure success?

  1. Hey,

    this sentence got me: “I also don’t want this post to seem self centered or self pitying; I hope someone can read it and feel inspired by it and strive for their own successes.”

    I understand the self-doubt, and yet don’t be so hard on yourself.

    The only thing though I am not doing anymore is to “strive”. I don’t strive for any success. I work towards being whole again, doing my best of course, but I do not strive anymire.

    And neither should you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Dave, Reading your posts made me angry, not at you at all, but because I worked in the school districts as a substitute Paraeducator, and finally teacher for special needs children, young people, and adults for some 15+ years. I am 76 and I loved every child or person I worked with. What I witnessed in the schools is that there are many soul killers in the school districts. Everyone has to fit the measures. I would classify under their stupid measures as being “learning disabled,” and yet I have a very high IQ and have worked in jobs with high qualifications but I work best on my own, and I too have difficulty working with other co-workers.

    So here’s my thoughts on this issue. First of all, absolutely STOP using the phrase “learning disabled.” That word disabled carries so many negative connotations. The “dis” makes it mean that you are not abled. You ARE abled, and I suspect like me – VERY abled. You just don’t like to work with others who are demeaning and/or butt lickers, or really stupid people with a major supply of bullying in them, or those who are no smarter than you but who have learned how to manipulate to get what they need/want. Now, from now on, wipe that from your mind, period. You might be challenged in learning, but we are ALL challenged in something or other. Challenged is so much better. It means that you CAN do what you like and want to do, and it is just a challenge, not a disability. You are a very competent person who has accepted all this garbage as I did in school too. So let’s uncover it all for what it really is.

    In school, teachers and administrators think they need to have “standards” that they can measure, so everyone has to fit into those measurements. Now tell me, do you wear the same size shoes as everyone else? Are you as tall as all the other young men? I severely doubt it. And none of us learn in reality at the same speed either. My daughter could read and memorized her children’s books when she was two and knew big words and what they meant from TV (which was new then). But my two sons were like mud dogs; they could barely read at age six. Luckily, back then they were not measuring all this crap, so they did not know that if the schools had measured, they would definitely fall into the learning challenged. In the end result though, they became very intelligent; they just did it at their own speed. And that is what we all do.

    I have been in classes where we are doing “art,” and for heaven’s sake, that is supposed to be something to stretch your creativity, but instead, all the children have to make the same thing, colored exactly the same way, and put it together in the same speed and time as all the other children. As a professional artist (among many other things), I find this being mind-raped. They are not “teaching” us creativity; they are teaching us how to follow the rules and do like everyone else. If you don’t want to do that (as I never did), you are labeled “learning disabled” or having some form of inability to fit in with the rest. We are NOT robots, and we do NOT need to do everything our fellow students are doing in the way we do it, the time it takes us to do it, or even if we choose to do it at all. If we are there to learn art, let us experiment and play with the art in our own ways.

    But the reality was that none of these children/young people/adults were learning challenged, and neither are you. We all learn at different speeds and in our own ways. Some of the greatest brains in history would have been labeled “learning challenged.” But that is arbitrary and just as we grow physically at different rates, so do we learn at different speeds. A lot of it has nothing at all to do with you per se. It has to do (for one thing) with how good the teacher is. Often even if the teachers are trying to make their place in their careers, they might have been good, but they are following the arbitrary guidelines for how quickly students should learn any subject. Their goal is to make as many of them fit the guidelines so that the teachers can move up in their careers.

    Secondly, it has to do with how your parents are at home with regard to helping and encouraging you. A lot of parents today are working themselves, and when they get home from work they are tired, and may not be able to give you any or very little time. In my case, neither of my parents graduated from high school. It was during the depression and their families were poor. So they got what they could, but never finished school because they had to get some form of work, perhaps sweeping steps, just to eat and have a roof over the head. If your parents did not or do not involve themselves with your learning, it will be difficult for you because you don’t get individualized attention any time, day or night.

    Third, but not last, it has to do with your interests at any given time. One of my cousins had a mad love of horses. She read and watched movie about them, collected horse statues small size, and could think of basically nothing else. And she grew into a girl genius later on, but she did it on her own terms and timing. she ultimately branched out into science and all kinds of other things, but there was a time when all she wanted to read or would read was about horses.

    Fourth, did you get enough good food when you were in school? When I was attending school, my mom was a very good cook, something she prided herself on, and also the school lunches were nutritional. Today, once again, it may have been economic factors, and it may have been a lack of time to prepare good food, or that the parent is once again working all day, perhaps driving back and forth from work for long hours, and just plain tired or not feeling well.

    And the schools themselves, the neighborhoods, the children who attend and the neighborhoods have a lot to do with how you will learn or what you will learn, or even if you will learn. If you grow up in a difficult district, you might have to spend more time avoiding bullying than you do learning anything. That is outside our control pretty much unless we can somehow get shifted to another district, and that is a big hairy issue.

    So where does that leave you? I can assure you that you are a very normal and perhaps even brilliant young man. You have simply never had the encouragement or the opportunity to explore and learn at your own warp speed, whatever that is. Let’s start with a few changes. Do not again ever call yourself or refer to yourself “learning disabled.” You may be learning challenged, but there is not a person on the earth who is not challenged, and challenged suggests a positive outcome.

    Secondly, if you CAN do it, go get some good counseling related to learning some new things. This means that you might be tested to find out what you LOVE to study or to learn and then to find out what things will give you that opportunity. What if you become a great dog handler? Or a rodeo rider? Or perhaps a taxi driver? Does that mean you are any less than anyone else? Absolutely not. It means that you love those things, and I am not suggesting that those are your gifts, but you DO have gifts, and when you find them, you are going to be so happy in life, and you will begin to develop a sense of who you really are. You do not need to be wealthy or famous to be successful. You just have to really have a LOVE for what you do in life because you will do it most of your life until you don’t.

    Every night when you go to bed, I want you to talk to that sad little boy inside and let him know that he has been the very best little boy and how proud you are of him. I want you to let him know that you are always going to have his back, and that you will always take good care of him. You might even make up a story for him that is a hero story. In the story, he will be the hero, and he will accomplish big things that make him happy like Superman or you find a name for him that means something to you. You tell him the story at night, and you can make up more too. Of course you are not a child, and neither am I, but you need to appreciate that little boy and how truly sacred he is in this world.

    When you make a mistake, give yourself credit for trying to do something a different (and potentially better) way. Laugh about it (at least inside) and give yourself a pat on the back for being so innovative.

    Now, I am going to find out how to sign on to your posts as a subscriber, and I will check on you to see how quickly you are growing. And I will be following and seeing what choices you are making with your job, etc. I think you can do something that you will feel really good about. You just need to stop convincing yourself that you cannot do this or that. You let that little boy inside know that you can do whatever you want to if you really want to. If you cannot, you probably don’t like it all that much.

    Celebrate yourself every single day. You are a sacred being. You can and will learn as you are ready to, so perhaps another first thing to do is to see what things interest you and then perhaps read what you can find about those things. And no matter what it is that interests you, it is going to be a good thing. Happiness every single day of your life. Anne

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow this is the longest comment I have ever gotten; you really put a lot of thought into this; amazing. Where do I begin? Ok, well I like how you replaced disabled with challenged. And despite the negativity in my posts and I have always realized i learn in my own way at my own pace and my parents were fortunate to understand that. Once they found the right way of teaching me; I thrived. I think some of the most creative people are labelled as challenged by a population that doesn’t understand . I consider myself to be a highly capable person and the obstacles are set by other; not myself. I wish I could respond back as eloquently as you but I am running on little sleep. Anyways thank you again for the lovely comment; it means so much to me that you care to be that responsive to my post. Have a good night

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I want you to remember that you are sacred in this world. And you know, we all have our own unique ways and speeds of learning. If someone is trying to teach me something that I can only hear but not watch them do it, I am totally lost and can barely even understand the words. But if I see what they are doing, I can definitely follow it unless it is a subject that is not within my likes or abilities, such as math.

        You are a very unique and highly intelligent and amazing person. We need to not allow others to set our obstacles. It is OK if WE decide they are obstacles. You know, there are horses called jumping horses (or that is what I imagine they are called). What they excel in best is jumping over fences that are put up for that purpose. So for whatever reason, they like to do this (well, we are not horses, so we will likely not ever know the reason they like to do it). Maybe they just like to know that there are some obstacles that are fun for them, and they can do it.

        We can set our own obstacles. OK, like one of mine is not wanting to stand on the edge of a high mountain or climb any high places. But it is one I set for me, and so it makes sense to me. Now once this so-called friend, when I was showing her one of the “red ladies” I was making out of fabric figures wrapped in red strips, had to set obstacles for me. I wanted to make a fiber sculpture, and I love working with my hands with fiber, and I was very happy at the concept I figured out to make my sculpture, and it meant something to me at the time (though I am not sure what). Anyway, she began to tear down everything I had done on the “red lady,” so I gathered my red lady up at the end, and took her home and put her with all the other unwrapped muslin figures I was going to wrap into a drawer and there they sat for a long time years even. No, NEVER, but NEVER allow anyone else, even in a job, to set obstacles (or challenges as we might better name them) for you.

        I love this saying by the author, Jo Coudert, who wrote in her book, Advice from a Failure: “Of all the people you will know in a lifetime, you are the only one you will never lose. To the question of your life, you are the only answer. To the problems of your life, you are the only solution.” I want you to never forget that you are sacred, and as such, you do what works for you. There will always be those who will find reason to criticize what we do or how we do it, but really, who has the problem? I am always here if you need to have some uplifting or just a way to look at things differently. Peace and many blessings always, Anne

        Liked by 1 person

  3. You deserve to be read, Dave. You have a lot to say that a lot of people who have needlessly suffered out there need to read. We have had children in our area kill themselves (yes, children) because they are either bullied, or they are made to feel as though they can’t measure up to others. By whose standards? You keep doing what you are doing so well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well if you read my other blogs; you’d know that my brother took his life when I was 14; so i know all too well about suffering and suicide. Part of the reason I write is to help others and give them hope; i want to inspire them and let them know they are not alone. I want to make a difference where I go

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh Dave, This is so sad, and I think you are making a much needed difference in this world. Was your brother bullied, or have you written about what happened then? I will look for the post if so. I know you will help a lot of other folks in your lifetime. Let me know about your other blogs, OK? I will look for that. You are a wonderful person, and it is an honor and pleasure to know you. Yes, that is the best honor you can do for your brother and for yourself. Thank you most kindly. Do send me the other blogs too.


      2. I will send you the blogs when I can but no actually my brother was liked by many people and had a lot of people who cared about him; he was more social than me. My brother had schizophrenia and issues with drugs; at point my parents kicked him out because of his behavior. I’m sure his used drugs to cope with dealing with mental illness. i wish my brother had held on.


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