How Do You Define Success?
I was sitting on the couch with my husband a few nights ago and I looked over at him and asked him: Did you have any idea, when we started dating, that I’d be this successful?
My hand quickly shot over my mouth.
For so many reasons.
1) Dare I say out loud that I was successful? Let alone ‘this’ successful?
2) Was I even successful? I had never said that out loud. Or really, thought it, for that matter.
3) How can I be successful if I don’t have a lot of money?
I knew a blog post was being born.
He looked over at me and said: I knew you had potential.
He was being facetious. And yet, he wasn’t.
I was waitressing at The Newsroom Cafe, and had been for 13 years and suffering from depression and miserable when we started dating. Truly not the Jen I am today. She was in there, somewhere, buried under the layers of black aprons, but it was deep under the dust of restaurant smells.
Here’s our story in a nutshell because, well, it isn’t the point. So I will abbreviate it.
We met 15 years ago.
My first love had just dumped me and I had a nervous breakdown, or close to it, while I was living in New York City. I relived my father dying like a big fat cliche and felt abandoned and scared and so I moved to California where my mom and sister had just moved a year prior. (By the way, we had moved there once before after my dad died when I was in the 4th grade and then moved back to NJ again when I was in 8th grade. In that time we lived in California, I made friends for life, starting acting and was even on Punky Brewster.) Moving back to NJ felt like a cruel joke to me at age 13 and 8th grade was borderline suicidal for me. Not a joke.
I got over it and fell in love.
Cutting back to the New York years: first love dumps me and I move back to California (mom and sister had moved back the year before for reasons I still do not know and I followed suit.) We were like the crazy Jewish traveling gypsy women who only traveled between LA and South Jersey.
My mom had this studio on Robertson Blvd in West Hollywood which she rented out to actors and acting teachers and movie makers and other Hollywood types. She called me and said she had a writer she’d wanted me to meet him and, that, oh yea, she was dating Neil Diamond.
Yes, Neil effing Diamond.
(I still have the Harley Davidson leather jacket he gave me for Hannukah that year.)
We met at Newsroom Cafe on Robertson near her studio. (Yes, the Newsroom I would go on to work at for 13 years.) We met and I looked older than I do now because I was so anorexic and pale, and Robert, the writer my mom wanted me to meet looked: nice.
He was nice. Which, for me, at 21, meant one thing: boring.
I started working at The Newsroom Cafe. He sent me roses.
I didn’t know they were from him because I thought him far too shy and too nice to do such a bold thing so I was stumped as to who “the Robert” was who sent me roses to work.
He called and asked if I got said flowers.
Eeek! Yes I did get flowers and I just want to be friends, I said like the 21 year old I was.
(Did I really say that?)
For brevity sake I will cut to years later. About ten years.
I am still working at Newsroom. He comes in. I recognize him straight away. (I have a photographic memory. People would come in to the cafe to eat in 1999 and in 2005 I’d wait on them again and ask if they wanted the chicken pot pie again?)
He looks cute, I remember thinking, I’ll go over.
He says he remembers me but cannot remember my name.
I think he is lying about not remembering my name. ( I still think he was. He still denies. Although now, being married I see he has a horrible memory and he probably was NOT lying.)
Long story short, we went out for dinner, and after dinner, sitting in his car, I knew I was going to marry him.
Yes. Very true.
I married him.
He tells me now that he waited for me all those years.
So yes, he saw potential.
But all those years I was stuck and depressed and we would have never made it. I had to go through what I went through and meet him again to fully blossom.
So here we are on our couch. In our apartment. Where we live. I have my hand over my mouth in shock because I actually said out loud that I am successful.
We are taught to not say that. Or that we are beautiful.
Aren’t we taught that? Even subconsciously?
What does success even mean?
I no longer wait tables. I am happy. I have fun. I am sitting on the sofa next to the man I love watching Modern Family. I get paid to do what I love.
I have only been teaching yoga and doing what I do for 3 years. Barely 3 years.
And here I am.
You are reading my blog.
Am I successful?
I am to me.
Is my nephew who has Prader Willi Syndrome and Autism successful even though his ‘milestones’ are different than other kids his age? (Answer: yes.)
Is my friend who does play after play successful even though she still has to have two waitressing jobs? (Answer: yes.)
Who or what measures success?
Does success mean money? (Answer: no.)
Are we supposed to acknowledge our own success? (Answer: Sure, why not.)
You see, my husband always believed in me. He did! From the moment he met me, when I was 21 and anorexic and lost and scared to now. He may not have remembered my name all those years later but he most certainly remembered who I was.
Even though I had forgotten.
He had an unwavering faith in me when I had no faith in myself. It took years to come back to him because I was not ready.
I am ready now.
I am ready for success.
And let me explain what I mean when I say success.
I mean love.
I am ready for love.
In the comment section below write down how you define success. Also feel free to add what you are ready for in your own life. Finish the sentence: To me success is ____________.