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In my 31 years of existence on this earth I have learned many life lessons. At least, I’d like to think so, it’s hard to have appropriate pride in your self. Introspection just doesn’t offer as much of a metric to your ‘success’ in life.
That’s actually one of the many important lessons I think I’ve learned. I was voted most likely to be successful in high school. But what does that mean? What will I succeed at that others can apparently fail? ‘Success’ in life is not necessarily having a job, or having kids, or having a house. It’s not necessarily about making more and more money. It’s not even about supporting yourself, though that is a very important thing to do. All of those things add to your ‘success’ in life, but they aren’t exclusively the measure. I used to believe that I was a failure, that my life was worth less than people who were more attractive than me, or ‘more intelligent’ than me. People whose stature was greater than mine, in my own mind. I slowly came to the realization, after reading several good self-help books, that the only way someone is ‘better’ or worse than someone else is in their character and integrity. Even then, if someone is willing to learn from their mistakes, learn from their crimes and ask for forgiveness they’re already a step ahead.
I don’t imagine success in this regard as something that is a scale from 1 to 10. I imagine success in these terms to be more of a road. You travel down the road learning, but it doesn’t matter if you’re only a few steps from the start or 10 miles from the start; you’re still working to get farther.
Integrity to me means that you hold beliefs that don’t contradict each other. You may not always be able to fully realize those beliefs, such as always being self-sufficient, but you can work towards those goals. If you WANT to be self-sufficient and you take steps towards that, I would say you have integrity. If you want to be honest, and you work towards that; you change your behavior bit by bit and face those hard decisions, you have integrity. For me, being honest is very easy, but for others it can be very difficult. Doesn’t necessarily make me a ‘better’ person because I’ve already accomplished it.
Of course, if you lie inappropriately and revel in your maliciousness, one could argue that you’re not as ‘good’. That behavior lacks integrity. However, you always have the chance to be ‘better’ in this regard, so you’re not necessarily ‘worse’ or ‘unsuccessful’ as other people.
I’m not a relativist. I will not tell you that everyone is the same, that all human life is sacred. I won’t say that value does’t matter, cause it does. But where you get that value from, such as from other people’s approval, from your looks, from your intelligence, or from your own self-confidence, is what matters. You always have the opportunity to value yourself. You always have the opportunity to be a ‘better’ person. If you take advantage of that opportunity, that’s all the ‘success’ you really need.