The Costs of Success

success walt whitman yawp

So what controversial things have been on my mind lately?

The CrossFit Open Sectionals this year have been going pretty well for me. I seem to be setting the bar for my gym, which is admittedly pretty small. This should make me happy, which it does to an extent, but I also feel like there is a strange bitterness to being good at something.

I worry that other people resent my success, especially since I don't really suffer much for it. I'm not very strict about my diet (comparatively), and I feel like I train fairly infrequently these days. And despite all this, here I am putting up some awesome numbers. Does that seem unfair to people?

I guess I should not hold myself responsible for how other people feel, and I certainly shouldn't feel bad about doing something well. This would be another example of self-sabotage in an attempt to avoid the costs of success.

I guess that is what might be bothering me lately. Life is really good right now. I have an amazing and beautiful girlfriend who is pretty much the embodiment of grace. I'm training well, injury-free (a first...sadly), putting up great scores for the Sectionals, making good money doing work I love, and I have plenty of time to write. And yet, I find myself gnawing at my confidence. What if I'm missing something? What if the thing I'm missing is a vital piece that is about to fall out and bring everything else tumbling down? It's happened before.

I have to laugh at myself. Old habits die hard I guess, and I used to be the ultimate pessimist.

The Cost of Success

There are costs to success. We think of the costs of failure, and the things we give up by not trying, but we don't think of the troubles we will incur if we do well, at least not until we actually face them. And at that point, we're unprepared. Suddenly, we second-guess ourselves. Maybe that's not what we really wanted after all.

In order to get what you want, you sometimes do have to give up things you like and are used to. You also incur additional worries sometimes. Success brings on fear of losing what you've worked for. It can also mean that the penalties for messing up are far greater than they were before. As my blog grows, missing a post annoys more and more people, and more of my readers will notice my lapse.

But that's not a good reason to avoid growing my audience.

"That Went Better Than I Thought it Would"

Believe in the most insanely unrealistically awesome possibility, and it can be true. Just as we can be so certain that something will go wrong, we can also be absolutely positive that everything will go splendidly. And when you adopt that belief, you make it so.

Now that I'm starting to see some real successes, it's like all the things I've been writing about are actually coming true. All the dreams and goals and aspirations are coming off the page, and a part of me is freaking out. "Yeah I said that, but I didn't really think it would happen," says that little sniveling part of me.

"Well, you did all the right things, and now you have to deal with success," says the magnanimous and sagely part of me.

"But I don't want to travel the world, be a famous writer, and have the body of a Greek demi-god."

"Well, then you'd better get lost because that's the way things are going."

"But success means I have to keep it up. It means I have to be legit, and balanced, and I can't slip up anymore or show my imperfections," says the little voice.

"No. Success is just another step in the journey."

And I'm going to end this post before you start to think I'm really losing my mind.


I'll leave you with this little nugget of widsom my girlfriend helped me realize: Change is scary, both positive and negative. Even when things really are going well, we can still harbor little doubts in the back of our minds that keep us from taking those last few steps, just as they kept us from taking the first steps.

This is natural.

It is also a pain in the neck.

Fight on, brave warriors,

- (**