Why Your Success Is Not About You

The other day, I could barely get out of bed and start working. I came to the conclusion that being successful is not for me.

Before you start making assumptions, continue reading.

Ask yourself:

Why is it sometimes hard to say, “thank you”?

What would it take to give someone who’s given everything to you, a little something back?

Behind the scenes, someone was working extremely hard to help me every step of the way. It’s hard to notice when you’re caught up in the social norms of high school, and then in college trying to find yourself, and eventually working full-time.

But everything made sense this one fateful day.

Perhaps, we all come across these days, where everything surrounds one moment and time seems to slow down, and you wonder what took you so long to see what was so obvious.

It happened when I started talking to my mom about success, and I kept thinking about myself. I questioned all the fears and anxieties I was facing. How long would it take to get promoted? Will my first novel be successful? When would I find time to travel?

She looked at me, smiled, then casually said, “All I want is not to work for the rest of my life, and I want to write a book, too.”

I looked at her and felt like crying. A wave of pain rippled through my body in response to my selfishness. I couldn’t believe everything I was saying and how I didn’t have the empathy to ask about her ambitions.

I said with my whole heart, “Don’t worry. I’m going to be successful so I can help you do just that.”

At that moment, I promised myself that those words would come true. For that to happen, I realized I needed to persevere and become the best version of myself because her happiness was mine. If I stopped chasing my dreams, I would never be happy because she would continue to struggle.

From packing lunches to helping me pay tuition, she was working non-stop to help me achieve my goals. And I was closer than ever to being successful and I was about to give up because I didn’t want to put in the hard work. But it was never about me; it was about her.

I thought back to everything she’s done for me. It was too much to even comprehend and a simple “thank you” would not suffice. I know it’s the responsibility of parents to care for their kids, but to sacrifice your passions for them is something entirely different.

Also, she’s not just my mom, but my friend. For a long time, I forgot how much she meant to me and everything amazing she’s done. I focused on myself, and it made me miserable. So miserable that I wanted to quit.

What I realized: People who enjoy their lives are not quitters, and they’re not self-involved. Instead, they are selfless, strive to make other people happy and are empathetic.

Moreover, they’re not the people who think about the ones they love only on their birthdays, but every day. And they’re the people who are willing to carry the hardships of others because life is not always fair.

It’s easier to wake up and start working when you’re not just fighting for yourself but for something bigger. Love is what moves us forward and makes us happy, and when we learn to love others, we learn to love ourselves.

For everyone reading this, whether you have two parents, one parent or no parents, I want you to know that success isn’t for you. It’s for those who you love. And if you love somebody, then their happiness will always be yours.

My success is so my mom will no longer worry about having the energy to get up and go to work for the next ten years or whether she can pay off the house mortgage. Moreover, it’s for one day I will finally see her finish writing her book and have the pleasure to read it.

The truth is the more you love someone, the more you’ll find purpose in the work you do and the more love you’ll receive. If I continued my “all about me” attitude, I would never see all the dreams around me I could have created.

It still happens. I wonder why I work so hard and continue to climb over huge obstacles. All it takes is a short conversation with my mom or just looking at her to remind me why. And after twenty-four years of sacrificing for me, I’m now confident that one day she won’t have to anymore.

Truly, success isn’t for you. It’s for others.
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