I went to the market across the street, and by market I mean the 7-eleven that I get quarters from for laundry. I went to retrieve my cash back after buying a $1 water bottle. The woman in her mid-twenties was smiling. When I got to the register she said “I’m feel so good today!” My playful response was, “About what…?” I was so excited to hear someone say “I feel good.” Most people have a hard time publicly announcing this, pain is much more acceptable. She said her boss was making a demand to sell 10 7-eleven pizzas a day before the superbowl. 10 pizzas a day for 7 days. What a daunting task. In Portland, within a 5min walk from 2 amazing pizza places, this woman was asked to sell 10 7-eleven pizzas a day. I sure as hell couldn’t, but apparently she did and her boss noticed and you should have seen the smile on her face. I could see hope, I could see success.
It’s been some time since I’ve seen the result of success, the glistening of achievement whether its because a heart was won over, a triumph at work, or beating a physically demanding challenge. I’ve know my own success many times and it was never something I needed affirmation from another on, it was something I felt inside. Knowing this, I began to self reflect on my search for successful others. Whenever I meet someone, I am always searching for their definition of success and from there I let my judgement flow. I accept this, we all judge. I’ve learned that there are better ways to judge then others. Instead of asking someone what they do, I think I am going to ask them what they feel successful in. This doesn’t mean good at, top class honors, or making big money, but what makes you feel successful?
Why have I come to this conclusion? Well, because I myself push others away. I have started the wrong conversations, I have made others feel like they have to prove something to me. I did this, not intentionally, but as a result of how I began my conversations with others. I am not alone, but I may be one of the few to admit that it stemmed from fear. I think we enter new acquaintances with fear. Fear that if invest in this, will it hurt me, will it make me less? Fear of control, is this something I can engage in and still know myself. Fear of vulnerability. Is this someone who will understand me, who has experienced similar experiences? Fear of the future. Is this someone who will stand by me? Who will share my community with me?
Fear is a huge governing factor in social interactions. Its very hard to be in the moment when you’ve got fear cheering you on because of your family’s expectations, your peers view of you, your own self identity, your alliance with various beliefs, morals, and views. The differences make us fear closeness with one another. Agreeing to disagree somehow means we can stand on other sides of the room and look at one another. But what good will that do if you are there and I am here?
I’m not saying there is an easy answer. But maybe if we look at each other’s successes, by their definition of success, we might see our difference in a new light. We might be less fearful, knowing we share hope, self appreciation, and joy. These are the words we are afraid to voice. We think its rude to boast about happiness. But what if that song just made my day, or the fact that I actually spoke to someone new, or that I created something I felt good about even if it is melted crayons and toothpicks, what if that was enough to settle differences and redefine success?
I’m a work in progress, as we all are. Its rare that I learn to be less self critical. Its moments like the pizza triumph at 7-eleven that help redefine differences and make me dish out high fives and smile as I continue on with my night.