Elisa A. Escalante/ LCSW/ 12-6-2021
“It’s not about perfection, or resources, or even where your knowledge is at right now. More importantly, are your intentions any good?”
Like many things, we look at success through a narrow lens. The majority may equate success with money, status and/ or power. Then outside of this limited list, may feel they fall short if they cannot attain this measure. However, there are many people who obtain the above list and go on to have miserable lives. Success, from a holistic standpoint, is also about balance. We may achieve many things but put ourselves out of balance in the pursuit of it. If you are miserable and out of balance, regardless of what you attained, can you truly say you’re a success? To be chronically miserable often means we are failing ourselves in some way. Also, we can succeed in some aspects of life, and fail completely in other areas of life. This is quite normal, perhaps inevitable. I say this to say, we have all succeeded in some areas, and failed in others, and we don’t even know it. Most success happens out of site and out of mind, many are succeeding every day and can’t even see it. Then, many are failing themselves in one way or another, and don’t even see it. Success can be invisible too. I want to give credit, especially, to those that succeed in silence doing the things that we never talk about or even see as success.
Workers: If you are working any type of job, you are succeeding in some way. Whether it’s part time, full time, building your own business, a trade, or an office job, high paying or low paying. If you are a worker, you are contributing to something bigger than just yourself. You are honing your skills, generating income, stimulating the economy, maybe even taking care of dependents. Honestly, I hate the shame society puts on workers, I hate that there are many who are ashamed of what they do for a living. I hate that there are many jobs that are underappreciated and underpaid. We truly take the average working American for granted, and because of this, in turn, we (workers) do not take pride in what we do for a living. If you have worked in some capacity for most of your adult life, you have succeeded in that way. Regardless of what you have to show for it currently. My tip? Go after the job you “love”. Maybe it involves a pay cut or societal shaming, but if it’s worth it for you, it’s worth it.
Present Parents: The amount of shame and self-hatred I hear coming from actively involved parents is quite sad. I’m not a parent myself, I’m a child from many broken homes. I’m someone that was engaged to a man with kids and did help stepparent for several years. I’m also a social worker that has given family therapy and individual counseling to kids and teens. This is what I do know: Parents do not have to be in a child’s life. They can abandon them. Parents do not have to be good to their children; they can abuse them. It happens all the time, unfortunately. So if you are a single parent, or one of two or more parents that are actively involved in your child’s life (whether biological, step, grand, adopted or otherwise) and you are not abusing them, you are already a success. Being present for the 18 plus and so on years it takes is already more than what some do. Being present without abusing the kids is more than what some can do. You’re raising the future, and the less harm you induce while engaging in this important accolade, the better. The work that present, non-abusive parents put into their children’s lives is vastly underrated.
Mental health and Medical clients: Yes, another invisible success, as when we are clients we are subjected to the feeling of a power differential. Yes, clients often feel ‘less than human’ or ‘beneath’ their providers and/ or caregivers. However, I added this to the list because being a mental health and/ or medical client means that you are actively involved in making sure that you are getting the care your body and mind needs. That is a success, as many neglect themselves for the sake of avoiding… stigma/ taboo’s/ shaming. Some neglect their health because they prioritize less important things over it, such as… work! Let’s not forget what Maslow said! Our physical health and safety takes precedence over self-actualization. If you fail your health, you will eventually fail everything else anyways. Keep taking care of yourself. The more functional each individual is, the better they are for everyone else around them too. J
Present Friends/ Family members: There are many times that our roles as family members and friends will be solicited. This is important, what type of friend or family member you will be? Will you help? Enable? Will you abuse? Will you neglect? Will you offer emotional support? Will you do what you can where you can, but also have appropriate boundaries? Dynamics are huge. Friends and family members help each other out a lot, and more importantly, in these roles we often do it free of cost, and below the radar. Our true heroes throughout our life are often our friends and family members. They are often times, the ones that will love you unconditionally, and catch you after you have fallen due to trusting people outside your circle. It is true that some friends and family members are toxic, but there are also many that enhance and multiply our lives. If you are in a role as a trusted and reliable friend and/ or family member, you have succeeded in that you have enhanced other’s livelihood.
Volunteers/ Donators: With such a chronic “every man/ woman for himself/ herself” type of attitude and an attitude of “never work for free”, it’s a miracle that volunteers and people that graciously donate without the need for credit still exist. But, they do! Some are taught to do good in this world, and not necessarily for a tax write off. For some, it’s just ‘the thing to do’. When we have the means to help others, and then we do help others, that is growth. It does come back around eventually. Growth is recognizing that we are not the only person on the planet, and life goes beyond just doing for ourselves individually. This can vary anywhere from donating a few dollars, donating essential items, all the way to donating an organ. If you have donated and/ or volunteered, you have succeeded in selflessness and most likely, you didn’t get credit for it. But I’ll go ahead and give the credit right now.
Mentors/ Role Models: There are actually potential role models and mentors all over, the trick is knowing how to look for them. Also, many people do not even realize what they have to offer in terms of mentorship. This is something every person has the capacity for. If you have a skill of some sort, you could be a role model or mentor. The key is in how you execute this knowledge and if you have the intention to help others grow. Pride and envy get in the way of this. The ability to teach other’s regardless of what is in it for you, is essential. Teachers, coaches, coworkers, bosses, family members, friends, even acquaintances. Teaching someone a skill is one of the most valuable things we can do. It takes up our time, but it means that a particular person gets to walk away with a knowledge that they will carry over the course of their lifetime, and also, whoever else they decide to teach can carry it on. This is a multigenerational success. This is how we truly grow in knowledge and foundation. Mentors and role models have the invisible success of passing on crucial knowledge/ skills.