Success and Failure
The last few years I’ve really struggled with where I am in life. I’ve always felt behind, never catching up to those around me. Right now, I’m not working full time as a PTA. I graduated 2 years ago in a field I was led to believe was solid, unwavering, safe. It was medical, that was never going to change right? I got married and moved to Fort Worth. The pandemic hit. No jobs, no patients. On top of that reimbursement rates for my career were shifted and have continued to shift - drastically affecting my position in the medical community. There are barely any jobs in my area. A lot of friends have been laid off. I have friends who have worked the business for a decade or more who have just drifted off to other careers. I’ve had no choice but to do the same, despite having a patient or two in home health. I can’t support myself on that paycheck. Its hard for me, because I feel like I did everything right. I went to college. I worked hard. I majored in a solid field that had potential to float me for most of my life - I thought. Every paycheck I get at my current job is welcome, but a reminder of what I once I had. I made a lot more money a year ago than I do now, but my bills have stayed the same. I’m not floating anymore, I’m having to swim through churning seas.
Before I continue I would like to say that I genuinely enjoy my current job. I like helping people. I’m good with office work. I love animals. And the benefits for my job are actually pretty good, almost better than my last full time PTA job. It may have even opened up a new career avenue for me, not something I really ever considered. This is another example of ‘timing’ from a previous blog where the universe tends to put you exactly where you need to be at the right time. In a previous blog I mentioned how I finally accepted that there is no shame in where I am. I don’t have to apologize or make excuses. It was hard to come to that realization, and its still hard to accept that sometimes. I have to remind myself. Progress and success are never ending. There is no ‘end goal’ except, you know, you die and there is a lot of life to be lived from now to that point.
It took me ten years to publish the book. I started writing it when I was 13 - and anyone that has been writing that long knows that your writing when you start is way different than a decade or more later. I had to develop. To get better at writing, I had to write. Short stories, poems, mostly fanfiction, some of my own works that have grown with me… if I had tried to publish at 16 the book wouldn’t have been that good. I had to experience what I have since I started writing that story to make it what it is. Thats the theme of life, really. You grow. You progress. You succeed, but maybe not in the way you originally thought you would.
I spent years struggling with a horse that wasn’t necessarily built for what I wanted to do. I got frustrated, mostly with myself, because every imperfect moment to me was another step backwards. I was never good enough at the one thing I really wanted to do. When Del retired and I started fresh with Gandalf - and I mean really fresh - it seemed like all of my friends were leagues ahead of me. I had a horse who was wonderful, sweet, brave and willing but he didn’t know anything. The first month of working with him was on the ground and occasionally in the saddle convincing him he could, in fact, walk with someone sitting on him. This progressed to walking laps around the arena - though he would still usually stop after a lap or two convinced he was finished for the day. This moved to trotting a few steps until we could trot laps, and so on. It built and built. Even with all that progress, I kept comparing myself to the girls I rode with. Their horses were jumping and galloping and they were showing, going to clinics, all the things I wanted to be doing - but I couldn’t. Because Del was done and Gandalf was years away from that.
This is a quote I live by now, and have to remind myself of often. Success was not finishing the book and publishing it, it was writing it. Getting my PTA degree was not my success, it was a stepping stone to a successful life. Getting Gandalf to competition wasn’t success, it was the little moments of bonding and learning and enjoying time with him what I was doing that matter. Its the journey, not the destination. Its living that is successful, not the end result.
Now, as I sit on my couch at 11 am on a Sunday, dachshund between my legs, husky squishing me into the arm of the couch, my wife on the same couch being squished by our other husky, and me writing something I should have finished yesterday, I am living. Gandalf is still learning. I am still writing. There is no end goal - there is only the moment. This is success.