I’m not fully responsible for my success

And you won’t be either

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I read this intriguing piece a few hours ago by Emily Kinglsey. The very first post I recall reading from her. It made some unexpected insights bubble to the top of my consciousness.

See, I’m the quintessential “nice guy”. Not the “fake” nice guy you may read about here who’s really just looking to get in your pants or pull some other misogynistic bullshit on you. No, I’m the guy who even after you break up with me, would still drive halfway across the state to give you a ride home if your car broke down. It’s just the authentic me. You’d think I’d get taken advantage of because of it but more often than not people are just perplexed. Whatever, every day is a great day to be me. It took me a long time to find this kind of peace. I’m not letting anyone take it away from me.

When I fall in love, I don’t even see a woman’s faults. I believe that any failure of the relationship to blossom must be my fault. I don’t push people. Not the women in my life, and not even my own children. I hold no expectations of people. Even when that’s really what they need. I accept people to be whole, on their own, without my intervention. And yet I really wasn’t whole myself. None of us really ever are, not fully anyway.

Fortunately, I married a “not so nice” woman. And yes, I pretty much worshiped her. She loved me, of that I have no doubt, although I believe she saw my niceness as something of a character flaw. Still, she married me. And she pushed me to be a better human. She pushed our children too. Maybe a little harder than any of us wanted to be pushed. Nevertheless, we’re all better off because she brought out the best in the people she loved.

Because I loved her, I worked to be the man I felt she deserved. I didn’t have any dreams, so we chased hers. Part of that involved me earning a decent living and helping to provide a nice middle-class life for our family. In return, she had the ability to chase her career aspirations while I worked a second shift and played house-husband for a significant part of the day. Enabling her to have what she wanted gave me everything I didn’t even know I wanted.

I wouldn’t trade those years of being a real hands-on dad (I changed diapers, every day, for ten straight years) for anything in the world. I built a career from an interest in programming that likely would have gone nowhere without her encouragement and financial support in the early days. She believed in me, more than I believed in myself.

The relationships we have make us the people we become. Yes, sometimes parents, lovers and spouses push us in directions we don’t want to go. Even that though molds us. We either learn to stand up for ourselves or we shrink away. The thing is, the push one person needs may well be the unwelcome intrusion another person rebels against.

Success has nothing to do with the money you make or the status you achieve. True success is reached when you have effectively harnessed the forces against you to shape yourself into the person you want to be. You don’t get to choose all of those forces. But it’s your job to bend them into a structure that creates the life you want to live.

Thank you for reading.

Written by

father, motorcyclist, old retired guy who’s just a little lost on a blue marble corkscrewing its way to oblivion

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