The Measurement of Success and Failure - by Sean Michael Paquet
Hello everyone! So today, I felt compelled to write about success and failure. I think these are concepts that everyone can identify with, whether you are a writer or not.
What is success? How is it measured? For that matter, what is failure?
So let's face it, we live in a very materialistic society. Such is the case no matter where on the planet you dwell. Success is based in terms of value. How much money do you have? How many toys do you've? How many friends? To a point, yes, having lots of money and toys and friends can be viewed as a sign of success.
The same can be said for failure, lack of money due to poor business decisions, or the loss of friendship over often trivial matters. Perhaps failure can be viewed as the loss of a job or the loss of a close relationship. Someone who mattered more than anything in the world to you. The loss of a loved one. All of these can be viewed as failures in life.
We look at challenges in life that we cannot overcome as failures. We do that because we blame ourselves for it. Other people blame us for it.
Here is the deal. Some things in life you are NOT meant to overcome. Some choices you make are meant to have unfortunate consequences. Some decisions you make are intended to blow up in your face. Some life events are meant to put you down so hard that you think you will never get back up.
Success is a choice.
Your reaction to failure is also a choice.
If you choose to allow your failures in life to put you down, that's your choice. If you decide to go all fetal and cowering on the ground while having a world-shattering breakdown, that is your choice.
If you choose to drown your life in drugs, alcohol, meaningless sex, and useless encounters because you have failed, then that is your choice. It's your body and your life. If that's how you wish to cope with failure, then, by all means, go ahead. Destroy yourself further. No one is going to care enough to stop you.
You can choose to get back up off the ground.
Let me give you some personal insight.
I had a very successful career in the United States Air Force. I loved every minute I was in uniform. I was successful. However, military service is not a life-long career. For me to continue my service, I had to pass a very difficult examination.
I failed that exam.
I failed that exam three times. I only had three chances.
I had no choice but to retire from military service because of an examination that looked at both my intellect and my character as a person.
Fortunately, my failure turned into an almost immediate success! Before I had even taken that third examination, I had already put out resumes and applied for jobs. I wasn't going to let the end of my military service break me.
I had a job offer before I even took that third examination. Because of that job offer, I spent the next six years as a private defense contractor in the Middle East.
However, with every success I had, there was another failure. Yes, I was still thriving, but the type of work I was doing left no room for a life back in the world. I lost my marriage at the time. That was pretty brutal. However, I was met with success again almost immediately. I met the most amazing girl in the world while I was in the Middle East, and married her. We are still married to this day.
I had it made, man! Jackpot! I had money in the bank. I had an awesome partner who was with me all the time, and we had the most beautiful daughter. I was a Rockstar as far as I was concerned.
As before with success eventually came failure. My wife had to resign from her job in the Middle East. She was burned out and started having health problems. We agreed the wisest thing to do was for her to take our daughter and return to the Philippines.
I was devastated.
This amazing person who had pulled me up from so much of the bad that had happened in my life was now no longer with me.
I felt like a failure. I felt like I was to blame for her leaving. I felt like I was to blame for her health problems. I felt like I was not good enough or had not been supportive enough for her. What was even worse, my daughter was no longer with me. I had never been a father before, and the experience had made such a difference in my life. I felt like I had failed them both.
To make matters worse, I was moved to a duty position where I was way over-qualified and way underutilized. I no longer felt like I was contributing to the mission I had signed on for after leaving the military.
No wife, no daughter, shit job, living alone.
So I started drinking and doing drugs to cope with all of that pain. A LOT of drinking. A LOT of drugs. Ask my friends who knew me at the time. They will attest to my rapid downward spiral.
To make matters worse, I became self-destructive. I took all of that pain and anger enhanced by alcohol and drugs out on my wife. Our daily video conversations served only to remind me of the distance between us, and I started to feel as though I had made a terrible mistake by getting married again and having a child.
It was getting so bad that sometimes my wife and I would not talk for days at a time. It was bad. I mean really bad. It got so bad I was drinking before work. I would leave work early just to go drinking. For about six months, I do not remember a day that I went to bed or work up sober.
Now I had always been a problem drinker. I just hid it well. For thirty years, I hid it well, but this was bad. I knew it was bad. I felt myself completely spiraling out of control.
Then suddenly, out of the blue, I saw a job offer for a position with a company in the Philippines. I thought maybe I had a shot because of my qualifications, so I applied. BOOM! I was on a plane headed to the Philippines within two weeks. I thought maybe this would be what my wife and I needed to get back together.
Success once again! However, I was still a pretty lost and broken soul from all that I had just put myself and my wife through. My perceived failure regarding my wife and child was still pretty evident. It was still plaguing me. Furthermore, the distance issue between us was still not totally resolved. My work was down in Laguna Province in Santa Rosa. My wife, daughter, and stepson were living up in Ilocos Norte. A ten-hour drive by bus.
Now, like any red-blooded American boy who had been locked down in the Middle East, I was pretty starved for female attention. I hit the Philippines and boy, did the Philippines hit me back! Beautiful women! Cheap alcohol! Freedom to roam as I pleased! Oh yeah, I was living it.
Then I met a girl. She worked for me. There was a mutual attraction. Since I felt like my marriage was on its way to the shitter anyway, I decided to see where things would go with this new girl. In my opinion, I was again successful. I had money in my pocket. Money in the bank. A pretty girl at my side and an excellent job.
Again as with my success, there came failure. To make a long story short about the girl. Yeah, well, she was beautiful, charming, charismatic, and made me feel like I was on top of the world. For two years off and on, we were together. Then I found out she was a con artist, a swindler who was only looking for a way out of the Philippines, and a really bad life situation.
Because of a lot of very poor choices I made regarding her, I separated from my wife. Then I lost my job. In fact, I lost everything. The girl, the job, my reputation, and my dignity. All over a girl with an agenda to screw me over from the moment she met me.
Complete and utter failure. Not because of anyone else, but because of me, and my own stupidity.
All I could do was go back to Ilocos Norte to my family and pray that I could somehow save my marriage and my family.
See now here is the kicker.
My wife, Farrah.
She never gave up on me. She never gave up on us. She knew that girl was just using me. She knew that once I hit bottom, I would wake up. Farrah is a very wise woman.
She never gave up. She never gave up on me to the point that she actually came and extracted me personally from the very bad situation I was in, and yeah, it was bad. Bad to the point where if I had stayed, my life would have been in danger.
So, we put our marriage back together. In all honestly, it wasn't nearly as hard as I thought it would be. Farrah taught me that true love endures all things. She told me that it was OK to believe in forever.
So here I sit. I have this big beautiful house. I wake up every morning, and I see my wife and my daughter and my son right there. I can hold them. I can love them, and I feel they love me.
I do meditation. I do yoga. I go to the gym. I write about what I want when I want to write it.
A lot of people could look back on my life as a series of failures. I disagree.
I look at my life as a series of challenges, some of them I was able to overcome. Some of them overcame me.
However, every time I got kicked down, for some reason, I kept getting back up. Even when I had nothing left to fight with, I kept getting back up. For me, it was as though something was guiding me and that something refused to allow me to fail and not get back up.
As I sit here writing this, I ask myself the question. Am I a success or a failure in my life?
In terms of material value, my beautiful home is worth a fortune. I have a nice car. I have good friends now. People who love me and protect me, just as I love and protect them. I just published my first novel, and I am writing my second one. Chances are it will do well once it hits the right market.
But that's not what I look at in terms of success.
I am happy.
I have peace.
I have become self-aware.
I know the power of true love.
I am far wiser.
I am clean.
I am sober.
I have found my calling as a writer.
You tell me. Success or failure?
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