I'm not the one to listen to music while I work. In fact, sometimes I prefer dead silence for 2 or 3 hours. But more often I listen to stories, and most recently I make alternate between TED podcasts and This American Life. This and Norwegian language learning.
Anyway, the TED talk today was all about "success": understanding that the word itself carries a weight that we are afraid to define and always questioning whether we are, have, or ever will BE "successful."
I've thought about this question on a handful of occasions, mostly the question what will make me feel successful, how or when can I know "when I've succeeded," and how does that change along the road to wherever I think I'm headed.
One of the speakers on the subject made some great points that I intend to take to heart. The first one is that it is perfectly normal and even difficult to avoid, that upon meeting someone new, one of the immediate questions is "what do you do?" We've all noticed this, and probably tried to avoid either asking or answering in some way. But the tangential point was that our identity of others and of ourselves is so much a part of the answer: this is what I DO, which therefore comes to represent— willingly or not, "this is who I am."
And for most people that's not fair.
One would assume that would instead require the question to be always "who are you?" (although I can't imagine HOW a new acquaintance would react to that as a lead-in question) OR, "what is your ideal work?" Both of those already sound like better questions to me.
Secondly though, is to cut ourselves and each other a break. That we all feel like failures to some greater or lesser degree in this regard, if not much of the time then at least at some point in the present or the future. This is the new social class, and whether or not we admire or respect or resent or distain the answer that is simply to occupations we have, for a short time or a long time.... when did it get so heavy?
I am grateful to be painting. It IS my dream job. But I wish I were more successful. My own definition of that is something I am progressively working on.
Wish me luck.