Success is a fickle bastard.
Wait, wait, wait. No. The way I feel about success is a fickle bastard.
From the perspective of friends and family, I think a lot of people would see me as relatively successful; I have the trappings of a pretty charmed life (good marriage, healthy daughter, nice house in a nice place, my own business, good friends). I’ve also had a few people tell me that the stuff I’ve done has inspired them to do their own things, a concept I find incredibly humbling considering what a lot of my friends have achieved.
But I also find it a bit fucking berserkoid. Because I NEVER FEEL SUCCESSFUL except for fleeting moments when I win an award, or I’m asked to speak at an event, or given some accolade from some person I deem as “better than me”.
I’ve started to touch on this in my therapy sessions, because it’s a theme that always comes up as the Voice of Utter Shitness in my mind: “YOU’RE NOT SUCCESSFUL YET”.
Earlier on today, I was directed to an Enneagram test by Lotte. I took a test, and found out I am a Type 3, also known as The Achiever (I have a wing of 4, which also makes me “The Professional”, but that’s a subsidiary matter). Now, I love me a good quiz, especially when I learn more about me and my personality. I’ve taken fucking billions over the years, from paid tests all the way to the type with batshit names like “which Disney character’s pubic hair most describes your cooking style?”.
Normally, I have a good deal of interest to these kinds of test, but there’s normally an area of “mmm, I kiiiinda think that miiiight sound like me, but not totally…”, and that causes me to not feel comfortable labelling myself as Definitely That Thing. Not to mention, I’ve spent a lot of my life not really knowing what I want, so actually I’m like a jack of all trades (or jack of all personalities).
It’s only been a recent discovery that success is a massive driver for me. BUT WHAT DOES SUCCESS EVEN MEAN TO ME?
I don’t jive with the whole “MAD LEVELS OF FAME AND POWER” concept. I also don’t want to live the life of a rap video, downing Cristal strawpedos while I drive round, I dunno, bloody Monte Carlo in a Mayback with the number plate “R1CH AF” before pulling up to buy underpants encrusted with diamonds from the Diamond Encrusted Underpant Shop. Both just seem quite un-me-like. But until today, I didn’t get why these results of success didn’t appeal.
So, I read into my Enneagram, and this is what I found:
“Threes want success not so much for the things that success will buy, or for the power and feeling of independence that it will bring. They want success because they are afraid of disappearing into a chasm of emptiness and worthlessness: without the increased attention and feeling of accomplishment which success usually brings, Threes fear that they are nobody and have no value.”
Er, wow. Well. That was a pretty enlightening read. There’s more detail on the Enneagram Institute page, but I cannot fault this.
Yes, dear reader, I need success because my main driving force in life is to “not be a worthless shithumper”. BRILLIANT.
Yes, dear reader, I need success because my main driving force in life is to “not be a worthless shithumper”. BRILLIANT. Not very noble, but it certainly felt very true.
So here’s a couple of other truths. Perhaps you get them, perhaps not:
1/ While I know there’s only one me, the fact that other people could be Type 3s (or ENFPs or Creators or Cinderella’s glittery pubic hair…) brings out a weird competitive edge in me.
I feel a bit “only gay in the village” about it, even though intellectually it’s clearly not true and that’s just a bit of weird programming I have left over from being a child.
2/ I’m more affected by the way I look than I’d like to admit. And that’s embarrassing.
I put myself through an eating disorder as a youngster, and as an adult, I’ve done a lot of work to vercome that. But the aesthetic thing shows up everywhere.
Case in point: on Friday, I had my hair done. My hair is my “thing”. As a teen, I was the girl whose hair people admired. I would wash and blow dry my hair EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. It was styled perfectly – FOR SCHOOL. AN ALL-GIRLS SCHOOL. Random strangers and hairdressers used to compliment me on my hair. So fast forward to 2016 – I’m not as hair-obsessed as I once was, but I cannot tell you the joy and relief I had after having my hair cut, coloured and styled exactly the way I wanted it. I noticed the difference straight away; I spoke to people differently, it was like I moved from this place of “oh God what must they think of me” to “now I can be the person I always imagine myself to be”. I felt light and funny and eloquent and friendly, instead of awkward, ugly and weird. Because of MY HAIR.
3/ I don’t get jealous often, but when I do, it’s because you’re younger, prettier and more successful than me. And I can be a bitch about it.
This is a really depressing admission for me. I didn’t even realise it was a thing until I voiced it in a therapy session a few weeks ago. Normally I can handle envy – I feel like it points to the place you want to go, or something about that person speaks volumes about where your direction should be heading.
But there’s a magic trifecta of things that cause jealousy for me; age, beauty and success.
If you have any one of these assets on me, it’s likely I’ll feel a little envious, but I can kind of get on with my life and in fact I will make it my aim to become friends with you. Two things? I’m going to be a bit jealous, but I can still hide it. All three and one of two things will happen: I will stalk you on social media, work out our age difference, compare how I look to you (unfavourably for me), and if I can, leave sickeningly supportive messages on one or two pieces of your content (BUT NOT TOO MUCH BECAUSE PLEASE DON’T THINK I’M WEIRD. Also NOTICE ME). Or, I will find out bad things about you and feel very justified in my inner-circle bitching about you. And I really don’t do bitching all that often.
I’m working on it, but YES, I know. This is a reeeeally sucky part of my personality.
It does feel good (freeing? Honest?) to admit these things, and there are probably more things lurking in my mind waiting to be unlocked. Better out than in, right? Or is that just farts…?