In this challenging year, even as things are finally calming down from the maelstrom they were just a few weeks ago, I keep coming back to the phrase “more will be revealed”. There are new challenges ahead, positive ones, ones that will foster opportunities to manifest long held dreams, but I am personally struggling, in light of an unfolding professional opportunity that is happening all around me (which I can only allude to at this time … Sorry) with feeling as though I and my skills have, yet again, been passed over and rejected. It is difficult not to feel as though I am, once more, not enough. Not talented enough. Not attractive enough. Not experienced enough. Not legitimate enough. Not … Enough.
I suppose this thought pattern began when I was passed over for participation in an important art show in the 6th grade. My art went to the show, along with several other works of art accompanied by their creators. I was left behind and a girl whose surname was similar to mine was sent along with my artwork by mistake. My art teacher was absolutely mortified when she realized what had happened and personally apologized to me for the error, but the seed was already planted. Passed over. Not supposed to be there.
This continued in various manners in high school. Multiple times, my work, in the arts and in writing, was credited to others, and no acknowledgement of either mistakes or omissions was made with regard to any of it. Add to this multiple rejections of my work in my adult life, much of it done on spec, in favor of artists who were more talented, flashy, popular and charismatic, and I guess you could say I have a bit of a complex about it. Much hard work on my part has been ignored while bad behavior from others is glorified and I have been told, in all seriousness, “you bring this on yourself by only focusing on your work, so that’s all that people expect of you.” (Really? I can totally live with that, actually, but really? You say it like dedication is a bad thing.)
So at this moment in time, in which I am feeling once more overlooked and that my time spent doing the Work I do has been ignored, I wanted to sit with these feelings and really sort through them, in hopes on finally LETTING THEM GO. I Journeyed on it. I had some hard conversations. I expressed my frustrations to close friends. And I found a common thread.
My expectations of credit, acknowledgement and, possibly, reward were very tied in with what I had always been taught about what SUCCESS looked like. Successful people had these things, in spades, and without them I was unsuccessful (this word just autocorrected to “unswept cesspool” which I think is very telling about what it means to hold onto negative expectations …). 6th grade me was bullied relentlessly and I hoped that “success” would stop that (It wouldn’t have). I hoped for the same thing in High school where I was very much the social misfit (It wouldn’t have changed that either).
At this point in my life, I completely understand that the “need” for these things is merely a pattern of thinking I have developed the habit of employing. And I understand further that these things have absolutely nothing to do with success at all. My success is determined by what I bring to the table, the enthusiasm I bring it with and the doing of my Work to the very best of my ability. My success is determined by me and not by others, and I can let go of that faulty way of thinking, freed of my expectations of the expectation of others, out of an unhelpful and stifling cycle. I am free to return to my Work with renewed joy.
Here’s the kicker. In Journeying through these issues I realized that success wasn’t the main thing I was craving. It was CONNECTION I really sought. When I feel well and truly connected, and acknowledgement assists in this, things flow smoothly and positive energy abounds. When I feel ignored, shunned, cut off or disconnected, I now begin to wonder what I’m being shielded from, since none of these instances have resulted in anything negative, and in some cases, actively led to some incredible connections I hadn’t anticipated at all.
These days my Work is not only credited to me, it has gotten the attention of those who are getting a great deal of accolades and acknowledgements. I get to hang out and Work with these people, learn from them, support and be supported by them. They are not and never were the enemy getting what was rightfully mine. They are my friends, colleagues, teachers and family. I am connected to all of them, actively and wonderfully. And being surrounded by them, connected, getting to make a living doing what I love, is truly, TRULY, what success looks like for me.
I can totally live with that.