Success Redefined

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Lianna Mae Smith
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This year I learned the real meaning of success. Success is being able to recognize what you did wrong and then picking yourself up again… even when you feel like everything is in shambles.  Maybe if I tell you my story, you’ll see why I feel this way!

So many changes

I had always dreamed of going to a real university and becoming a scientist. Last year I was accepted to an online program with a university across the country. I took on a full class load, bought a house, got a full-time job, got married, and adopted four pets all around the same time. Suddenly so many changes were all happening at once. With my family and friends back in my old town, I felt isolated and unsupported. Slowly all the things I was juggling started to fall to the floor. My job was literally killing me and my studies plummeted. My pets were left alone all the time. I couldn’t sleep. I never saw my husband. My house was looking more and more raggedy every day.  On top of it all I was blaming myself and feeling guilty that I couldn’t handle all these things perfectly. It felt like a spiral that was inescapable, and it was all my fault.

As low as a person could be

The breaking point came when my knees gave out at the age of twenty-five, due to being overworked at my job. I woke up one morning and I simply could not walk. I had to go to physical therapy for months and I ended up quitting because my bosses expected me to go back to work – and “ignore my knees”. Now I was jobless and I had failed my first semester and dropped out of the school. You can bet I felt as low as a person could be… to the point I had to seek counseling.

Untangling the knot

After completely shutting down and feeling like the most frustrated and useless person, I had to forgive myself. I had a tangled knot of a life in front of me. The only thing left to do was to gently pick it apart and lay out the strands so they’d never get so hopelessly tangled again. I picked up the smallest tasks and worked my way up every day to the more difficult things. From scooping the cat litter boxes to contacting the Dean to explain my situation and request forgiveness on both my tuition and grades. In the end, everything came out okay. I could finally get up and get into a routine. Then I was able to refocus my goals to something more manageable and attainable.

Living the total picture

This is the ultimate kind of success that I can think of. Forgiving oneself is sometimes the hardest thing you can do when everything seems hopeless. Now I have a lab assistant job, I am in school part time, I take part in a volunteer organization, and I make plenty of time for my homework, husband, pets, and home. If that isn’t the definition of personal success, I don’t know what is! If you’re feeling down and out like I was, just remember that what’s done is done. The sooner you start to pick up the correct pieces to your own puzzle for success, not somebody else’s puzzle, the sooner you will be living that total picture of your own success. 

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