A Success Story

Image by Still Unique Photography

Image by Still Unique Photography

I’ve been thinking a lot about success lately.  And what I discovered surprised me.

In the beginning, all I had was a yearning, or perhaps it was more like a beckoning:  to nurture my creative side by pursuing my passion for photography.  This yearning soon expanded to writing insightful messages about my photographs, which expanded yet again to wanting to share these with others.  Following my bliss and doing what I felt I was meant to do, filled my soul to the brim with joy and peace.

Soon, however, a little nagging voice emerged saying that if I really wanted to experience fulfillment and satisfaction, then I needed to have a “real” purpose; one that involved something of true value and worth, such as earning money, helping others, and receiving recognition.  As I listened to this voice and believed it, a hole in my soul began to develop, and so down that path I went trying to fill it up.

I enrolled in an on-line “start your own photography business” course, got a logo, a Facebook page, a website, an Etsy shop, a Pinterest page, a blog, and hooked up with Fine Art America.  I read books about how to create the life you desire, took on-line courses, and read blogs and articles about how to get noticed in web searches and promote your business.  The more I learned, the more I realized how much I needed to do if I wanted to be successful.  I felt like a rabbit hopping quickly down the path chasing a carrot on a string that is always just out of its reach. I set goals, visualized, affirmed, and believed. I reached deep down and felt what it would feel like to be a successful still life photographer and blogger.  I did my part daily and trusted that the Universe was working in the background pulling it all together.  I believed that success was just around the corner, and that I would one day “get” there.

In the meantime, the hole in my soul grew wider. The joy and peace I once felt was slowly leaking away, until one day I woke up, empty.  Fulfillment and satisfaction were replaced with anxiety and inadequacy. I looked around for my motivation, but it was nowhere to be found.  I realized that my enthusiasm, joy, and contentment had suffocated in my pursuit of success.  Right then and there, I stopped, looked around and sensed that I might be on the wrong path.  As I contemplated this, several questions surfaced:

  • What is it I really want?  A deep sense of personal fulfillment and satisfaction
  • What is my definition of success?  Attaining specific goals such as making money, helping others, and having a certain number of Facebook and blog followers
  • What is the relationship between those two answers?

Wait a minute….didn’t I experience personal fulfillment and satisfaction in the beginning when I was following my heart’s desire and doing what I enjoyed?  I wasn’t making money, helping others, or receiving recognition.  Right then and there, I realized that I had been duped and was on the wrong path!  I had bought into our culture’s definition of success.  I fell hook, line, and sinker for the belief that fame and fortune are not only more important than following your heart, but are also the true pathways to peace, fulfillment, and joy.  Not wanting to venture down this path any further, I quickly  gathered up my camera and tripod and headed back home.  To my surprise, when I arrived, I found my passion and my authentic self waiting for me.  As I wrapped my arms around them and held them to my heart, I knew I was exactly where I needed to be and my soul was once again filled to the brim with peace and joy.

From time to time, I believe we all wrestle with success.  What is your success story?

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