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What is Success?

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I think that for many of us who are ambitious and feel we are called to a particular purpose, there are times when we feel we are at the edge of our comfort zones and have to decide what to do. It seems to me that being a content creator is a kind of balancing act. On the one hand I want to pursue my dreams and ambitions by stepping outside of my comfort zone, but on the other hand I also love peace and stability, and I’m very afraid of compromising that.

Since my spells in psychiatric hospital, and my time spent in psychotherapy, I have come to deeply appreciate peace and quiet. As a teenager in a heavy metal band, the idea of fame and fortune was quite exciting, though even back then I would get terrified of attention, even to the extent I used to be nervous to the point of nearly being sick before every gig. Thinking about it, what I loved about being in a band was the creativity; the idea that I might be able to write songs that would make people feel amazing in the same way that my favourite bands made me feel amazing. I was always more comfortable in the recording studio than on stage, where I felt much more vulnerable.

These days, I am still very motivated to create, though my focus has changed somewhat. My passion nowadays is to share what I believe to be the truth about the big questions of philosophy and theology, because I believe the insights I have to offer can be liberating and enlightening for people who really understand them. I find that tremendously exciting, and it’s frankly what keeps me alive.

There is something of a paradox that accompanies my life’s missions. While I want to reach as many people as possible with my philosophy, I’m also terrified of the spotlight being shone on me. I have so many insecurities and I get anxious and panicky when I’m under even a little stress, so I’m constantly wondering how in the world I would fare if I got invited onto a popular TV show or even a popular podcast to discuss my ideas. I really, really, don’t want to do anything like that, but at the same time I know these things are important for those who want to reach more people with their work.

I absolutely hate the current obsession with “hustle” and “grind” and the idea that if you’re not a complete workaholic you’re somehow inferior and not going to “succeed”. What kind of “success” is a life of stress? Don’t these people see that the more growth they experience, the more responsibilities they will have, the more stress they will have, the less peace they will have, and the less happy they will be? And all for what? Money?! It’s insanity.

I wish there were I way I could reach lots of people with my writing and be protected against the inevitable backlash and negativity that comes with reaching a large audience. I’m quite a strong-willed person, but I’m also very sensitive, and I know that when people start watching my videos I’m going to get the atheist/scientific community attempting to “destroy” my philosophy for sport, because that’s what they do. It’s so flipping annoying and upsetting that people have so little love in their hearts that they spend their time attempting to rip people’s confidence and beliefs to shreds.

I’m saying all of this now because with my Deep Thoughts About God video series I’m being more vulnerable and open than I ever have been, and I’ve already been on the receiving end of some heartless negativity. It hasn’t yet shaken my confidence in my philosophical perspective, and I hope it never will, but it is still hugely upsetting. If any of you reading this have ever ‘put yourself out there’ (whether it be YouTube, or TV, or radio, or another medium), then feel free to offer me some love and encouragement as I need that to outweigh the negativity and stop self-doubt from creeping in.

Life is a journey, but I don’t believe that journey is necessarily about getting increasingly richer and more famous in order to meet some deluded idea of ‘success’. That’s the capitalist delusion, and despite the fact that society is bombarding me with it from all angles constantly, I’m determined not to get sucked into it. I want to reach people, yes, but I want to do so slowly and with love and care. It’s always the case that having five people in your life with whom you can share a deep and meaningful connection is better than having a million fans (and a million pounds) but no peace and joy.

I have a schedule for my YouTube project (and also a new schedule for posting to Instagram) which is simple and manageable and I’m determined that I’m not going to pursue the kind of success that will compromise my peace of mind and relationships. I will be praying above all for peace and mercy, which will forever remain infinitely more important than wealth and success.


Thank you for reading. I feel better now. Do you personally think it’s important to hustle hard and accumulate wealth, or would you rather live a simple and peaceful life? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below!

25 comments

  1. I definitely get how you’re feeling Steven. I’m an introvert and, although not shy, I’m more comfortable in a small group or speaking on a one-to-one basis. The thought of speaking in front of a large audience fills me with horror. I think you’ve started off well by publishing your book and doing your podcasts, and your confidence will probably grow as you go along.

    I’m sorry to hear you’ve had some negative response. It can’t be easy to open yourself up to this kind of vulnerability … I suppose it’s part of being in the public eye. I understand how you must be feeling apprehensive though as I am super-sensitive and can’t bear anything that compromises my harmony, though it happens on a regular basis!

    Like a previous poster said … stick with it because your creativity and passion are vital to you and I do believe you will become stronger with time and experience.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for the encouragement, Lesley! I’m glad you could relate to some of what I’m experiencing. Negative response is pretty much inevitable, unfortunately! I don’t know whether I will become stronger, perhaps, but I think it’s more about how much I’m willing to put up with. I’ll be carrying on, anyway. God bless you! πŸ™‚

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  2. For me, the older I get and the closer I draw to God the less I fear people and their approval/disapproval. To be honest we should be encouraged by their attacks because it means we are rocking the boat, making waves, and the devil has noticed. If the world loves ya that’s usually not a good thing, but if others encounter the love of God through you than that is very good indeed. I wish you the best of luck and hope this helped, God bless you

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    1. Thank you very much for the encouragement! I don’t fear disapproval when I’m in my comfort zone. I think the thing I fear most is stress, rather than disapproval. Not sure if that makes sense! God bless you, too πŸ™‚

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      1. No problem! πŸ™‚ I agree with you there, I hate stress as well and confrontation. You set your own pace though, and I believe that in time you will find a schedule or balance that works for you, even as you pursue your dreams and grow in popularity. Just be firm in keeping your personal boundaries so ppl don’t take advantage of your time or privacy. That way you can always take a step back to catch your breath.

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  3. I live a purposefully simple life. I am poor, because I choose to be. I live mostly how I want to. I am not owned by my possessions or obligations or my lifestyle. I hate waste. Waste of time, energy, space, money, resources… if it doesn’t enrich my life, I’m just not interested. This frees me to be, well, free. That’s my two cents.

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    1. Perhaps that’s why I feel I relate to you so much, Tara. I pretty much live by the same philosophy. It’s just this sodding drive I have to share my philosophy. If it wasn’t for that (which I feel is my life’s purpose), I’d be quite content living even more simply. I think I just need to do it slowly, and step by step, and trust in God. Thanks so much for commenting ❀️😊

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      1. Well, I, for one, am so happy you have that drive to share. You’ve helped me work through some very interesting and deep subjects, for which I’m thankful. I’d also like to go to an even more simple lifestyle but for now I am content.

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  4. I think its about perspective. It is great to be challenged. Even the most malicious comment has a bit of truth in it. Look for that piece. Find the one piece of good. Also think of it like all publicity is good publicity πŸ˜‚.

    Perhaps there are places in your theology and viewpoints that will shift, grow, and change but it will
    Be more spotlighted because you are putting your thoughts out there. Cool.

    I disagree with
    Some of your viewpoints but who cares.

    The goal isn’t to be right, the goal is to
    Be set free
    …. the gospel….

    Enjoy the atheist community, their voice comes from a place of deep conviction.

    May our convictions be as strong, and much stronger than emotion if I might add.

    Peace ✌️

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I agree that the constant hustle and grind mentality can be so taxing and stressful. After reading your post, I’m asking myself, what is the distinction between success and happiness? It is implied that success will MAKE us happy, but if that’s the case, I wonder why so many rich, famous celebrities overdose or commit suicide.

    I feel for you in your fears of really putting yourself out there. I feel pretty insulated by civility and respect here on WP, but I would be wary of starting a YT gig b/c of trolls and, as you say, people who get their kicks from tearing people down. I think you should try to get on a podcast or a TV show sometime–not to “become famous” but to live into your life’s purpose and share that with others.

    If God really does animate everything, just tell yourself that God is challenging your mental strength and drive when He animates someone to hate on you! πŸ˜‰

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    1. Hi Lily! Yes I think there is arguably a correlation between the level of material ‘success’ one achieves, and the associated stress levels β€” as you say, often leading people to breakdowns, overdoses, and suicide. Being aware of this I’m not at all interested in wealth and fame! I’m so glad to be content in the knowledge that just having enough, is enough πŸ™‚

      I do believe that whatever comes into my life does so by the will of God, and that includes YouTube haters! What God’s purpose is with any hateful comments is open to debate (I can of course ask God about that!), but I hope I’m able to deal with them in a mature, strong, and kind way.

      It’s much harder for me sharing my beliefs as they are, than if I were a Christian sharing my beliefs, because I don’t have a large community of people who believe similar things to support me (although most of my blog followers are very kind folk, it has to be said!). I’m on a relatively lonely spiritual path, but there’s something wonderful as well as difficult about that.

      As for any potential TV / podcast / media appearances in the future, I’m dreading the prospect, but I guess as long as it’s all done in the right way it might not be too horrendous! πŸ™ƒ

      Very grateful to have you as a thoughtful and considerate blogging buddy, Lils. Thank you, and peace and blessings πŸ™‚ πŸ™πŸ»

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