Therapy Reflections: What’s Your Idea of Success?

My therapist and I have come to the conclusion that I have a serious fear of failure. The birth trauma I experienced after my daughter’s birth became an unplanned cesarean was mostly due to a feeling of failure. I felt like I had set a goal and I fell through. Every time I see other women give birth naturally, this voice in my head still says, “She did it, and you couldn’t.” 

I’m still working on healing from this trauma but I’ve made some progress. Meditation has been a big part of my healing process. While I meditate, I practice certain mindfulness exercises, such as remembering the positive moments from my daughter’s birth. Or focusing on how amazing she is, and remembering that no matter the pain that resulted from her birth, I’d do it all over again and again for her. 

I’m still working on the fear of failure though, in multiple aspects of my life. As I continue to work through the career transition of going from a full-time nurse to a part-time freelancer, I frequently struggle with insecurities. 

Am I even a good writer?

Is all of this work actually going to pay off? 

Luckily, I rarely ask myself if I’m in the right place because I’m entirely confident that I am. Even with that confidence, I’ve definitely looked at old nursing colleagues with some envy. I know that following my heart will eventually lead to a higher income, but for now, it can be hard to be patient. Sometimes I make great money and other times I don’t, which often causes me to reminisce on that consistent paycheck I used to get as a nurse. I was explaining all of this to my therapist when she asked a very interesting question.

“How long did it take for your nursing pay checks to feel worth it?”

“Like, how long was I working before I got my first paycheck or..?”

“No, like how long did it take for it to feel worth it?” 

Well, it never felt worth it. It never felt worth it to be away from my daughter for that long when she was so young. It never felt worth it on the nights when I wasn’t sure if we’d have enough breastmilk to feed her for my 12-hour shift and I sat up crying, waiting to pump again, imagining making yet another compromise and switching her to formula.

It never felt worth it when my mental health was deteriorating and I was falling into some of the same mental health cycles that I was raised around. It never felt worth it when I realized I was making some of the same mistakes that my own mom made, mistakes that I promised I’d grow from and refrain from repeating myself. It never felt worth it to look in the mirror and feel entirely lost. Who am I? Who am I becoming? It never, ever felt worth it to feel entirely out of the loop of my daughter’s life, and my own life. 

So, yes, money is important but it definitely isn’t everything and it’s nothing when you’ve lost everything else. 

My idea of success used to be a paycheck. It used to be going to college, getting a job, and making money. But now I’m realizing that success goes so much deeper than that.

My idea of success is being present with my family, having my own mental health in order so that I can raise my children in a happy, healthy environment. My idea of success is freedom –financial freedom and well as mental freedom. Clarity, working towards something I love.

And that’s why I know I’m in the right place. Because I love what I do. I love how I spend my days, whether it be days spent with my daughter or days spent sitting at my laptop typing away. I’m spending my days as I am, not because someone told me I should, not because “this is what I went to school for”, but I’m spending my days as I am because this is what I feel called to do. I’m following my heart and living life authentically and purely. I’m practicing mindfulness and only moving forward as I see fit. 

I truly believe that if you live life authentically, follow your heart and do exactly what you feel called to do, the money will come later. 

I know it will pay off one day and I’m okay with that wait time because while I’m waiting for it to pay off, I’ll be doing what I love in the meantime. 

So, what’s your idea of success? Are you spending time in a way that aligns with your values or do you feel like you’re compromising? 

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