Claiming Personal Success


Exciting news, folks — I’m done with my freshman year of college! And I’ve been indulging in the successes that’s brought, including awards and good grades and just time to rest up. That being said, I wanted to talk about something I’ve felt really odd about in the past few weeks.

Society raised me (and probably you, too) to be extremely productive. Why? To contribute to the world in a powerful way, or to leave a mark, or to be successful and live in an expensive house and wear expensive clothes. It wasn’t something I ever decided I wanted. I was just told to do more and be more. I never questioned it.

Today, productivity makes me feel good about myself. I knock out a few hefty assignments or freelance articles and feel a rush of pride for the work I did. I’m not saying that’s entirely unhealthy, and that’s not the focus of the blog post today.

I’ve been feeling weird because when I share my triumphs with other people, I usually get one of the following responses…

  • “I’m so proud of you!”
  • “That’s my [insert relation to me here]!”
  • “We did it!”
  • “I knew you could do it!”

These aren’t necessarily bad responses. Yes, I appreciate pride and celebration of my successes! But notice that in each of these statements, the person congratulating me is including themselves in the sentence. “I,” “my,” “we.” There is something wrong with this, and I’ll tell you why.

I was raised to be high-achieving. While I’m grateful that I’ve grown up to be a hard worker, I have always been the kid or friend or cousin or student who accomplished great things for the image of someone else. I am the good daughter who makes the parent look good. I am the smart friend who makes the friend group look smart. I am the well-rounded student who makes the class look well-rounded.

The people who pushed me to do well, although with good intentions, asked me to go above and beyond in a way that boosted their own image. “You’re such a good parent/friend/teacher, you have such a great child/friend/student.” This is unhealthy. I had a lot of weight on my shoulders to carry someone else’s image and very little time to examine what success meant for me. This is largely from a few sources, one of which was being placed in the “gifted” program as an elementary student.

I never felt that my achievements were satisfactory enough because I was surrounded by other “high-achievers.” I was sold the idea of high performance and being a childhood prodigy and competing for good grades. While there is definitely something to surrounding yourself with people above your skill level, there is something horribly wrong with telling a child they are better than other children and expecting them to excel at everything.

Being a “gifted kid” was something for my parents and friends and teachers to boast about. Everything I did, it wasn’t just for me to be proud of, but for society to applaud. This is why writing (although something I love) can feel less like my art and more like a chore of being. I constantly found ways to be “different” as a kid because I was tired of being placed in the “gifted” box.

People comment all the time about how humble I am. I think I come across as humble because I grew tired of expectations set on me as a child, not because I didn’t appreciate my own achievements.

Today, I have a problem with naming and claiming my own value and success because of this conditioning. People in my life have always wanted to claim my success first. I’m working on doing what I love for me, not for others, and choosing to own my success for myself and myself alone. A mantra I’ve chosen is, “Others do not own my accomplishments and never will. I choose my actions, and I claim the results.”

While it is a journey, it feels good to be empowered by my choices rather than to shy away from any praise. My skills and abilities are my own. I am proud of myself. I don’t need anyone to tell me that I’m awesome.

Much love,

-el ❤

6 years on wordpress.


When did this happen? Have I really been here this long? Did I seriously open this account as an 11 year old?

When I was seven, I decided I would be a writer. Ten years later, here I am. Poetry published in six places, three other books in the works, planning for college.

Did little me know this was where I was headed? Do the people around me know how much it means to be living in a dream? There are people who have followed this blog for as long as I’ve been posting. Wow!

I get people asking me why I don’t care that I’m not monetized, or why I don’t get sponsorships or reviews. I get questions about why, being so young, I waste my time writing. It’s not a waste.

I get to engage with a community of writers who care about what I have to say. It’s rare that young, LGBTQ+ women are listened to on any platform. It means so much to see responses and engagements on this website. It’s amazing.

Six years of just learning who I am. Two years of sharing what I love. Three months of being a published author. I know what I want to be when I grow up: a writer. I can’t wait to keep growing and sharing my world with you lovely people. Thanks for sticking around.

-ellynn

re-blog: stop comparing your efforts to others.


“Hello. Ima get real with you all.

Being a bullet journalist, it’s often a struggle to be confident about my own skills. There are so many people out there who can do it better, easier, prettier, faster, more elaborate… You get the point. Eventually, the insecurity I have about my art skills becomes all-encompassing, and it actually does worse than damages my motivation to make art… It deprecates my self-esteem.

Now, I see this happen all the time in my daily life. I see my whole world as how successful I can be, how impressive I can be, how ___________ I can be. Just fill in the blank. It’s so easy to slip into these modes of ultimate depression and self-hatred with any competitive activity; it doesn’t have to be art.

There’s just one thing that keeps me sane. Just one thought. You are here to create art; the art does not create you. Yes, you should never compare yourself to others in order to shame yourself. No, you shouldn’t hate yourself because you don’t think you stack up. But when all hope is lost, when you just can’t find a reason to stay positive about how your work is, just say to yourself, “I’m here to invent/create/do this thing, but this thing is not me.”

Boom, over. done with. Automatically you realize that what ever you’re able to do, it doesn’t define you as a person. You are disconnected from that thing. You can now start to fill it with things that do define you.

Are you smart? Beautiful? A good listener? Do you have a good taste in music? Whatever it is, go after it with all your heart and put that idea in place of the thing you think you’re not good at.

So on this lovely Sunday morning, I ask that you take advantage of this mini mind shift. I honestly use this daily, and if helps me. Try it throughout the week and let me know if you notice any differences!

Happy succeeding.

love,

-rachel ❤”

action breeds motivation.


It has come to my attention that New Year’s Day creates a lot of excitement about accomplishing goals. Perhaps this day is the source of human productivity? The way I’m seeing it is that every person has a multitude of goals to accomplish, but they don’t start them until the first of the year. Why? Because it’s a symbol of new beginnings. That’s absolutely fine; I have no issue with that. It simply doesn’t make sense to use a certain day to propel your motivation forward.

Think about this for a moment. I can watch a video about puppies being rescued, and I can be inspired. I can think, “Wow, what a beautiful thing to do,” and I can believe that saving puppies is something in which I’m interested. There’s nothing wrong with those thoughts, except that there is if we’re trying to be motivated. All of those thoughts of admiration are just fine until I actually do it. Nine times out of ten, I don’t get up and drive to a dog shelter. So what about the people who do?

These motivated people usually have something the average person does not. Experience. I can’t possibly know how exciting it is to work at a dog shelter, seeing the smiling faces of the adopters, until I have worked there. I can’t be pumped to take that yoga class until I have felt the rush it brings me. There are many who might doubt this, so allow me to provide with an alternative example.

So it’s the first of the year, and you’ve decided to work out. Great! But that’s not all you have to do to guarantee that you will. You aren’t motivated simply because of a thought. How will you take action? Call a friend to keep you accountable. Set up an exercise plan. Buy some new gear. And of course, among the most popular, pick up a gym membership. These are all successful actions! They get many a person to their aspirations. Taking these actions allow you to be motivated. You begin to think, “Well, Marty knows I’m doing this. I’ll go for Marty.” “Okay, so today I’ll wear those cute new leggings I bought with the rhinestones!” “I’m not just gonna waste my money on that expensive membership. Let’s go!”

There is a downside to this, in that you may realize that you are less motivated as you continue to take action. This realization is likely just that the treadmill is not for you. The upside? Maybe the track is! Maybe you’ll like Pilates or cycling or weights. Everyone has their niche, but you probably just haven’t found yours yet. So if you’re sitting there, stretch band in hand, thinking, “I’m so bored. This is annoying. Why am I doing this,” you may want to move to the Zhumba class across the hall.

The fact of life is that you can’t knock it ’till you try it. Finding your passion is much easier said than done. I didn’t discover my love for bullet journaling until I picked up the official notebook and started the damn thing. I had admired it before, but my passion for it began when I took the appropriate actions.

I suppose that’s my soapbox for resolutions, and I hope that you succeed in yours, should you make any. Always remember that your goals can be set any time you like, not just on January 1st! Good luck, break a leg, yadda yadda yadda. To our success in life!