When do we truly become successful? Success is ultimately achieved when you feel that you’ve reached your goals and feel content with yourself. But in today’s “shame culture” we are made to feel that we are never doing enough, or we’re not doing it well enough.
We live in a culture where the opinion of society weighs heavily on how we view ourselves. If we feel relished and praised by our peers, then we must be doing well; and if our efforts are overlooked, then we must be failing. This incessant need to win eventually takes a very negative toll on our self esteem.
We are living in a generation where the shame culture is harsh.
Like it or not, some way or another we have all succumbed to shame culture. Where we live in a state of constant need for acceptance from our peers. Here are some characteristics of shame culture, and the way that it affects our everyday lives:
- People carefully choose their words, afraid that they may violate a social norm.
- Those who think “incorrectly” become targets for verbal flogging.
- In light of a moral uproar, you must post and state your opinion; or you may become a target of ridicule for “not caring.”
- Social media– the desire to be embraced and praised by the community is overwhelming.
- Members of a group, clique, or “squad” may praise other members of the group, in order to receive praise themselves. For example: on social media, you need to comment and compliment the right people in order to get recognized and gain a following.
- Natural leaders will rise within these groups; policing members of the groups in term of moral code, build their own power and reputation, and ostracize anyone who dares to deviate from the code set forth.
- Social media is extremely unforgiving to those who do not “fit in.”
- People demand instant respect from others for their squad, group, or clique. They will react very negatively or even violently if they feel that their group or sub-culture is being threatened in any way.
Winning it all could mean losing yourself.
Winning isn’t everything- that sentimental blast from the past still rings true, if not even more so these days. In a world where our daily activities are on constant display, it’s nearly impossible not to compare ourselves to others and their achievements.
When you get on the one way track to ultimate success, you tend to get tunnel vision. Your goals are all that matter to you, and failure is not an option. In fact, it’s the absolute worst thing that could happen, and life would no longer be worth living.
Well, what about the other aspects of life that do make it worth living? Relationships, experiences, adventures, friendship, or love. These are just the few of many factors that make a life full. When your only ambition is to succeed, you will end up neglecting these other areas of your life. Relationships will suffer. Those who love you will feel insignificant, as if you can’t be bothered to waste any of your precious time with them. Just remember that it’s awfully lonely at the top. And it will be even more lonely when you go to celebrate your successes, raising a glass to yourself; party of one.
You have to ask yourself, is it worth sacrificing everything you love and hold dear in order to hold some level of prestige in the eyes of society?
How to Win at Winning
Don’t get me wrong, it’s imperative that you feed your passion and nurture your ambition. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But when your self esteem has completely deteriorated due to unrealistic expectations, perhaps it’s time for some reflection and prioritizing.
Don’t force things. It just makes more opportunities for mistakes.
You need to consider outstanding circumstances. Yes, your friend from high school may have started their own businesses, but their parents might have given them a loan to get them started. Another one of your peers managed to score a stellar job in a reputable company. But what you didn’t know is that they sacrificed their entire adolescence studying and completing internships in order to get there.
We are all on our own journey. Everyone’s path is different, and we will all get to where we need to be when we are meant to get there. All you need to do is keep it moving, and keep your goal in mind.
Be very good at something, but not everything.
You can’t be good at everything, and what made one person successful isn’t necessarily going to work for you. Sure, many people are killing it in the IT field, and it sounds incredibly attractive. But if you struggle just to find the reset button on your computer, then this field probably isn’t for you. Focusing on your existing strengths and flex them.
For example: I wanted the freedom to be able to work remotely. I looked into Computer Programming and even took a few classes. It just wasn’t clicking. I felt like a failure. I considered what I’m already good at and decided to pursue those outlets instead. I decided to look into content writing; and here you have it. I am currently working from the comfort of a lovely neighborhood café.
Keep the big picture in mind, but focus on small goals.
It’s important to keep the big picture in mind, but understand that you’re not going to rise to the top without putting any work in. Focus on small goals instead. Consider these the stepping stones that will ultimately pave the way to your success.
Push your own limits.
Again, I cannot stress this enough. Do not compare yourselves to others. Set your own realistic goals and strive for them. Once you start to make some leeway and find that things are falling into place, set the bar a bit higher to challenge yourself. But do this in increments. Don’t set unrealistic standards and then kick yourself for not being able to reach them.
Make more mistakes, and learn from them.
When you’re striving for success, you’re going to hit some dead ends. Don’t get too frustrated and let it discourage you. Mistakes are actually a good thing. Take this as an opportunity to learn from these obstacles, overcome, and grow from them. You’ll discover what you’re truly made of, and reach your goals at the pace that you were meant to reach them.
|||^||The Positivity Blog: How to Improve Your Self-Esteem: 12 Powerful Tips|
|||^||The New York Times: The Shame Culture|
|||^||PsyCentral: Self-Esteem Struggles and Strategies That Can Help|