What is success?

A little while ago, my friend Sienna was in town visiting. It seems that she often inspires my posts, but I'm not too surprised about that. It is easy to make light conversation with her, but the really good stuff comes out after a bottle of wine has been opened and the hours stretch far into the evening. These conversations cover topics from life goals, to sexuality, relationships, politics - nothing is off limits. She brings out the passion in people, and inspires me to look inwardly but also to see the world in a different light. 

I treasure these nights! 

Sienna and me at the Gay Pride Parade, 2016. 

Sienna and me at the Gay Pride Parade, 2016. 

This particular evening we got on the topic of success. She felt she was taking a step backwards because she was moving back in with her parents. This decision freed up time and finances in order to allow her to pursue acting and poetry - her true passions. 

My younger sister has been doing the same thing for a little while now. She's been living with our parents, and using any moment of free time to build her own production company from the ground up.

It has allowed her to worry less about money, while at the same time build something that truly makes her happy. 

In our society, much of someone's success is directly correlated to how much money they have (or, let's face it - how much they can show it off). People judge others, and themselves, on the size of their home, the quality of their car or phone, the clothes they wear, and everything in between. But do those things really bring us happiness? 

Finding my own personal fulfillment has come from not only looking within, but creating more time to do things that I truly want to do. Yes, a degree of happiness comes from the stability of having money, and being able to purchase the things we need to live. But after a certain point, more money doesn't equate to more happiness. 

I highly recommend everyone see the documentary "I Am" - it illustrates this point beautifully.

There are plenty of cultures that live with their families throughout their entire lives. If they get married, they move out to start their own family but often still live nearby. It's not a measure of success as to whether or not they live alone in a big apartment or huge house - in fact, it may even seem wasteful. 

Me and my sister, Amber, having fun in Disneyland last month! We could live together happily, I am sure of it. 

Me and my sister, Amber, having fun in Disneyland last month! We could live together happily, I am sure of it. 

Having family nearby allows everyone to have a helping hand when they need one. It means extra care for the kids, friends to share meals with, and safety. It is the creation of community and relationships, as opposed to isolation. And as humans, we do not thrive in isolation. 

I have a friend that has one of those big fancy apartments. She makes a good amount of money, can buy the latest gadgets, and is a pretty good definition of what our world deems "successful". She is also unhappy with her job, has very few relationships, and often dines alone.

This is one circumstance, but I have to ask - would sharing a space with someone free her up financially to allow her to quit her job, and find something that is fulfilling? Would it help her feel more comfortable around others so that she can build more relationships? Would it make her happier? Maybe taking a step back at first would be the best way for her to take a step forward in the future.  

Many of us think it's embarrassing to have to move back in with the folks, or find a roommate after a certain age in our lives. Some of us would rather get into even more debt than to deal with the embarrassment of having to explain that to someone. People ask with a grimace, "they are 35 and still living with their parents?" when they should be asking (without judgement), "what is their plan, and their next move in life?"

For someone to accept that sharing space with others is an option that will open up new opportunities or help remove a burden in place of struggle is a huge success, in my opinion!