Thought Catalog

The 67 Highs And Lows Of Success

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OBLIVIOUS
When tears silently fell from her cheek upon finding the note from her lover, 3 days before their daughter was born that read: “I’m sorry. I can’t do this.”

ASHAMED
When classmates asked where my daddy was. I lied & told them he was Crocodile Dundee, and had to be in Australia to tame the outback.

CONFUSED
When we used different money than everyone else to buy bread & milk.

BITTER
When I was 14 and sat in the hospital waiting room on a sunny June day. When my adopted dad finally emerged, after what seemed like hours, he handed me a pamphlet. It read, “Helping Your Family Cope with Terminal Cancer.”

NOSTALGIC
When I would hear Puff Daddy’s “I’ll Be Missing You” come on the radio after he died, just a few short months later, after tearfully asking me to call him “dad” instead of “Jimmy,” like I always had. I got to call him it twice.

MORTIFIED
When it was just me & my mom after that, and all of the other 15 year olds had basements underneath their houses. We had wheels.

FRUSTRATED
When my mother’s debilitating anxiety & social disorder prevented her from ever coming to watch me play volleyball more than once in 4 years. We were almost state champions.

RELIEVED
When the founder of Monster.com thought I was worthy enough to be awarded a 4-year, all-expense paid scholarship to a private, liberal arts school—room & board included. The scholarship was based on financial need & demonstrated entrepreneurial spirit. My mom cried.

GUILTY
When I took the scholarship and left her all alone.

SADDENED
When an unexpected card would arrive with $50 that she didn’t have inside, telling me to go buy myself something pretty.

ANNOYED
When, a few years later, I found myself back in that same hospital waiting room. But this time, it was my mother I was waiting for to come out of the doctor’s office.

SCARED
When I realized the seriousness of the matter.

PATIENT
When she taught me how to pay all of the bills, as I wrote out check after check from her hospital bedside, as nurses came in and out to take her blood.

LIVID
When the doctor’s arrogant insensitivity to her pain one day made her weep.

VENGEFUL
When I let him have a piece of my 20 year old mind.

FRUSTRATED
When college friends ragged on me for not going out that weekend to party.

RESENTFUL
When I couldn’t.

SHOCKED
When I got the phone call while driving to my first day at my internship at a local TV station.

DEVASTATED
When, by the time I got to our house, the coroner had taken her body & simply left a note on the door.

BITTERSWEET
When, 4 months later, I walked across the graduation stage & got my college degree, not even bothering to look out into the crowd for a familiar face.

INDIFFERENT
When I hastily auctioned off all of our things.

LOST
When I sold our trailer for $13,000 at market price, and took off for Central America.

DISTRAUGHT
When I loved it there, but still felt the pressing need to “live up to my potential” & become a CEO.

HOPEFUL
When I flew back to the United States several months later to interview for my first real job.

WORRIED
When I realized that I didn’t have a home to return to.

GRATEFUL
When the job went so well, I received a promotion to head up marketing efforts.

DISHEARTENED
When I’d see planes pass by my office window, and longed to be one of the passengers on board.

DISAPPOINTED
When the realization came that I could only be one of those passengers for up to two weeks a year, from now until the day I retired. I didn’t want to waste my life like my parents did, always waiting until tomorrow to be happy—because tomorrow you’re dead.

DISILLUSIONED
When I discovered that my dreams of corporate success—or anything most people want—was never worthy of wanting.

DESPAIRED
When others told me I was naïve; that I just had to suck it up.

LONELY
When those same people spent Thanksgiving & Christmas with their families.

ARROGANT
When I quit my job & decided to start a copywriting business instead.

FOOLISH
When I actually thought that spending my time developing corporate communications materials that didn’t interest me would be any better.

EXCITED
When that same year, I got a contract to write an eBook on visiting Costa Rica.

SMART
When I realized they didn’t have exclusive rights, and I could develop my own site & sell the book there, too.

DETERMINED
When I laboriously tried to learn HTML.

ELATED
When I saw my very first sale come through Clickbank.

INTRIGUED
When I discovered the world of online.

ADDICTED
When I rediscovered my love for marketing.

CONFIDENT
When I painstakingly slaved over a book proposal to write a non-fiction narrative titled, “The Truth About Mangoes.” (Worst name ever.)

TORN
When I repeatedly received the infamous rejection letter (after rejection letter after rejection letter after rejection letter).

DESPERATE
When my new venture wasn’t pulling as much revenue as I thought I would, and had to borrow money from a boyfriend to pay my $1,000 a month rent.

HOPELESS
When I caved to pressure & agreed to take a job as an advertising executive in order to pay the bills.

ENCOURAGED
When I got contract after contract signed on the spot… for years.

UNCERTAIN
When, in my heart, I knew I needed more than signatures & commissions.

PETRIFIED
When, despite that knowledge, I was too scared to make any bold moves, knowing that I had no one in the world to back me up if I failed.

INCENSED
When I stood by and watched that fear get the best of me.

OPTIMISTIC
When I decided to begin my graduate work in Linguistics.

ANXIOUS
When I imagined that my degree would allow me to indefinitely travel the world, and make anywhere I pleased my home.

IRRITATED
When loan applications were denied without a parent co-signer.

STUBBORN
When I decided that I would teach writing as a way to make up for it.

HEARTBROKEN
When my best friend told me I needed to find a new place to live so her boyfriend could move in.

DEFEATED
When I had $26 in my T.D. Bank account, and no choice but to go stay with a mysterious new guy I had been seeing.

DESTROYED
When, a few weeks later, I discovered he was an illegal immigrant with a fake identification, a fake name, and a fake life.

HOPELESS
When I was alone & scared in the middle of the night, with everything I owned and no place to go.

ANGUISHED
When I felt like it was all my fault.

OBSTINATE
When I made my writing business my number one priority that year, and grew a blog called The Middle Finger Project as a way to find people who GOT IT. Who got ME, and this NEED to seek MORE out of life…despite the consequences.

DILIGENT
When I continued to blog. And blog. And blog.

VALIDATED
When my ideas were well-received.

COURAGEOUS
When I decided to use all the years I spent in corporate America for good – and teach marketing and sales (with an edge, of course) to other people who wanted to break free & start their own business, but had no idea where to start.

AMAZED
When my ideas were not only well-received – but they were changing people’s lives.

EXHILARATED
When I would get emails saying that, because of me, Sandy, age 35, could now afford to buy herself health care.

DEDICATED
When I continued to expand the company.

INSPIRED
When I began plotting even more new ventures – like our new travel company for small business owners, Life Hooky.com.

PEACEFUL
When my influence online grew. (And grew. HOW DID IT GROW SO FAST? I still wonder.)

INVIGORATED
When I decided to move to Chile, simply because I wanted to, and I can, since I no longer have to be in any one physical location, thanks to this life and business I’ve created for myself. And later, Spain. And then Ecuador. And now, Costa Rica.

HAPPY
When I looked around me yesterday, took a sip of my wine, and finally felt like I was doing what I was meant to do, and being what I was meant to be…despite the long road it took to get here.

That said, I have a message.

For everyone out there thinking to yourself that it’s unrealistic, YOU ARE WRONG.

For everyone out there shackled by fear, telling yourself that you could lose everything, YOU ARE RIGHT.

And for everyone out there that, despite that knowledge, is still willing to risk it by fighting for something more out of this fleeting speck of time we’re granted here on earth, YOU ARE THE ONLY ONES WHO WILL TRULY SUCCEED.

Because at the very least, you know that you did everything you could.

Not everybody can say the same. TC mark

featured image – flickr

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