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Geoffrey Owens and our mess up views on success

Now listening to Myleik Teele’s Podcast

Last week, actor Geoffrey Owens made headlines because he worked at Trader Joe’s. The actor played Elvin, Bill’s and Claire’s son-in-law on The Cosby Show and several other roles since. He stated that he took an odd job at Trader Joe’s to help make ends meet and, likely didn’t think much of it until some woman decided to blast him on Twitter. The fallout was outrageous and unnecessary because suddenly a lot of people who know nothing about making a career as an actor had very strong opinions about him having a job.

Owens in his Trader Joe’s nametag and Yale University cap, reminding the viewers of Good Morning America that he doesn’t care about what people think of his willingness to have a job.

I missed this story in real time and only heard of it because it was passed around one of my group chats. Most people have a side job at some point in their lives. Some may not want to admit it, but tons of people are either hustling or going without. If you think that you will never have to hustle or cut back a little in your life and you aren’t a person whose money generates money, I’ll talk to you when you rejoin the real world.

Success looks differently for everyone. A regular, high-paying nine-to-five and a 401k is my dream. I’d rather hustle on the side. My dream may be Geoffrey Owens’ nightmare. He dreams of the hustle and would rather have the consistency as a safety net. Neither is better than the other. I remind myself this constantly.

A hard lesson for me was learning that success is incremental and must be pursued daily. A successful life is made by stacking wins and learning from losses. There is no formula for success because building success takes critical thinking, judgment, planning, and agility. For a long time, I thought success was owed to me because I followed the path of higher education. Life taught me my degrees and I can start from the bottom and building a life like everyone else.

Our society’s success narrative, in general, is a myth. So many people believe the happily ever after fairytale that success is the culmination of hard work. Not always true. Success also comes in waves and earning success once does not mean that success will naturally follow at every turn.

However, the one thing is constant is that we all have to make money to support our lifestyle. Whether you live on $20 a day or $200 a day, most people will do whatever they have to maintain their lifestyle and to build a little more. Financial experts advise people to have multiple streams of income. Whether the income is from another corporation or is self-generated doesn’t matter. There’s no shame in how it’s done.

Personally, I have given up on roadmaps, formulas, and equations. There are too many variables involved in finding and maintaining a life. The only true way to close to what you want is to pursue a life you chose. Results may vary.