I’ve been thinking a lot about what winning means.
By that, I mean people on my social media keep posting inspirational photos saying things like “it’s okay to rest, it’s not okay to quit” or “fake it until you make it” or “nobody cares about your story unless you win”.
At first, I was like, “yeah, totally, I’m all in with these!” because I’m a person who likes inspirational quotes and stories. Plus, here’s a weird fact about me – my favorite niche genre of movies are inspirational sports movies, which is why Miracle, D2: The Mighty Ducks, Moneyball and Glory Road are part of my top 25 favorite movies list. I also grew up playing competitive sports, and then did other competitions (like high school band, what what!) for the rest of my adolescence. So yeah, I’m no stranger to the thought of WINNING.
But now that I’m in the workplace and in my 30’s, I’m realizing that I still consider winning an option. Like, I’m a competitive person. I want to win. But what does winning even MEAN as an adult?
One of the hardest things we ever learn is that everyone has a different path. I say that it’s difficult because growing up, there are paths that are laid in front of us as the “right way” to do things. We are told to go to school, graduate, go to college, maybe get a graduate degree, get a good/stable job, get married, have babies, etc. This is the “path” that people have always pushed. For people that did things out of order, it was seen as a concern. I even used to joke that I knew I was getting older when my friends getting pregnant was just exciting, and never a shock/scary.
But if that is the “right way” to be an adult, does that mean every other path is the “wrong way”? I followed that path pretty much to a T. I got my undergrad, got a good job, got married, moved across the country, finished my master’s and bought a house. But Josh and I have been together 10 years, and haven’t felt ready for kids until recently. Josh also got a great job without finishing college (though he’s almost done now), making about $20k more that I did with my degree. Another friend had her first baby very young, and waited to marry her husband until years later (and after another baby). Now, she’s an amazing calligrapher and has her own incredible business. She definitely didn’t follow the “path”, but I would say is definitely winning at life!
Overall, I guess I’m trying to say that the most important thing to do is to figure out what winning really means to YOU. To me, winning means being happy and safe. I’m not a risk-taker, and I don’t like feeling insecure or unsure about things (my relationship, my job, finances, etc.). I know some people would rather have the excitement of freedom (found in owning a business or being an entrepreneur) rather than stability of a stable job, but not me. My way is not better or worse, just different, and what is right for ME. I’m also very proud of my career and all that I have accomplished (particularly my newspaper column that ran for 15+ years in New Mexico), but I’m not willing to sacrifice my mental health for my career or for money, either. So for me, being happy and safe is really a win, no matter what educational, family, or work goals I achieve.
I think the worst thing we can do is push our own idea of winning on someone else. Who am I to say what “the right way” to live life is? As long as you aren’t harming or negatively impacting (mentally, physically, financially, or otherwise) our society or those around you, I say find your own way to win. Life is too short for too many rules, and too long to live by someone else’s.