The year 2016 was a very, very interesting year, for me, in a lot of ways, but of them all — newfound success in my line of work, which was political campaigns, at the time, along with the ensuing financial gains which came along with it — all taught me a lot about who my friends really were.
It’s safe to say, if you want to test your friends and see just how loyal they really are, all you have to do is succeed, then wait a few months and see who’s left standing. 2016 was the first time I’d ever made ridiculous money, as our industry saw a boost in wages that was unmatched until then. It was the first time I’d ever made $20,000 in one month, April of 2016, and it was in those subsequent months that I saw who my friends really were. Many outright disowned me, many saw my success as a direct attack on their character or as somehow reflective of their shortcomings. Interestingly, my success was merely monetary, there were no massive gains in other areas of life.
Over the next three months, I lost approximately 90% of my so-called friends in various ways. Some became angry with me all the time, even if my disposition didn’t change, others just completely disappeared, others felt it their duty to “take me down a peg” every chance they got until relationships became strained or nonexistent. Get ready for this; get real about this.
I used to laugh about the term “haters,” chalking it up to just some silly thing that people with an over-inflated sense of self-importance said, wannabe entrepreneurs who had to manage to convince themselves that they’re idolized and practically worshipped. While I still believe the term is typically uttered by people who’ve fetishized success as some sort of lifestyle, it’s not actually a wholly inaccurate picture of what actual success looks like. Personally, I don’t value myself based upon the digits in my bank account or on my checks, I value my character, my words, and my actions above all — but other people didn’t see life the same way that I did, and I was in for a very big surprise.
Nevermind the fact that I’ve never actually made that much in the three subsequent years since then, those relationships are gone, destroyed by the success that my boost in income brought about, even if it wasn’t reflected in a change of behavior on my behalf.
But this isn’t about me, this story is about you, and, supposing that you succeed like I presume that you’d like to, with your writing or whichever endeavor you may take up as your chief work in life, what you’ll need to prepare yourself for. Frankly, you’ll lose a lot of friends if you succeed in any meaningful way, whether you outgrow them and move on to different things, communicating at different wavelengths, or whether they become subtly overwhelmed with envy and antagonize you at every turn.
Less will they be the commonplace ‘mooch’ who try to suck your bank account dry, like people profess, but rather, the hostile, the vicious, the hurt, and the indignant who prey upon your shining moments of success, as if to diminish them, so that you don’t stand too tall, too high, too proud of your achievements, thus depriving them of the sunshine which creeps through the canopy of those upright with self-esteem and down to their stagnant level.
…and then there are those who do stand by you through your success, through your hectic schedule and busy life, and those friends, my dear readers, those are the most valuable people you could ever possibly come across — they’re the ones to hold on to and never let go of…
These are going to be the consequences of success, and if your success comes in the way of notoriety, fame, and otherwise social recognition, there will be some other things that should be considered — are you ready to give up all social media? Because that might be a necessary condition of the kind of success that you desire. Personally, I’ve had to, and that’s for various reasons, and I can affirm plainly that my life is much, much better now that I have.
So, what are you willing to trade for your success? What are you willing to trade for your own personal version of greatness, whatever that may look like to you? Some people say that you have to “sacrifice everything” for success, and nothing could be truer than this statement.
And, it’s not the things that we assume we’ll have to leave behind when we traverse on that wonderful and sweet path to success that end up bothering us; it’s the things we tend not to think of. What if your significant other isn’t prepared to see you succeed in a way that they could not?
Two friends of mine were dating for years, they had gotten engaged to get married, and they lived a rather subdued, blissful relationship together, happily. That’s when she got the call of a lifetime, a call from none other than the FBI to say that she’d been accepted as an agent to work for the FBI. She was as enthralled as she was overjoyed, while he was as disinterested as he was low-key envious. The discussion had to take place, and take place it did, whereby he first claimed that he couldn’t handle the secrecy behind her new line of work, and issued the ultimatum: it’s either the FBI or me.
She deliberated. As they discussed it further, it became more and more apparent that he simply couldn’t handle the fact that his soon-to-be wife would be an actual FBI agent — how badass is that? Much more badass, he felt, than anything that he could ever muster in life, and though she didn’t see him as anything less upon her acceptance, he did see himself as less-than.
Sadly, she decided to turn down the offer and chose her relationship over the FBI. Even more sadly, and further solidifying that it had nothing to do with the long hours and covert duties of the position, he ended the relationship anyway — it was too late, the damage had been done, his ego had been bruised and his sense of pride stifled by the gloomy rains of living in the shadows of the successes of another; especially a woman. Whether he actually said that last part or not is less relevant, but everyone who knows the former couple in question knows it to be true.
I mention this story because it’s all-too-familiar, all-too-common, and it happens in peoples’ lives every single day. They’re faced with a choice between their success and those things they care about most, especially when it comes to other persons and the relationships they hold dear. I’ve made this choice many of times, and thankfully, I was endowed with a disposition of flagrant independence, thus rendering the choice always easy — I choose my own path, not the most comfortable, nor convenient. I have things to achieve before this bizarre and strange existence blinks out, and I think this is how we must live if we are to attain a true sense of happiness…but don’t expect others to understand, because of most of the time, they won’t.
There couldn’t be a more appropriate time than now to begin planning for success, and the emotional and intellectual constraints which come along with losing such things, especially those we hold dear, is simply too much of a burden to deal with when you’re on the upswing — many people, like my female friend, mentioned, end up losing out because of their ambivalence and inability to decide when the time comes, what’s really important.
So, whether it’s next week that you’re expecting a significant boost in life or next year, the time is now to take out a pen and a pad of paper and jot down what you’re willing to sacrifice for your own version of success. Dream it up in your head, let it become real inside of you, and then compare that image with the things in your life so you can get a better appreciation of what that success will look like when it actually does come, because let me tell you, when success happens, nothing in your life will ever be the same.
© 2019; Joe Duncan. All Rights Reserved