Define Successful.

My daily procrastination. My daily scroll down the newsfeed.

And there it is, the life status assessment of the day: “The bad habits you should give up if you want to be successful,” attached to a soothing photo of women doing what appears to be some form of yoga in hot springs. What success. Somehow the image does evoke a soothing “I’ve got my shit together and that’s why I have the time to be doing yoga in a hot spring” success. What life awareness.

The title is provocative only in that I can’t help but get defensive – define successful. Successful presumably means vastly different things to different people. I’d be hard-pressed to accept that success defined only by the number of commas printed on my bank account statement would mean success to me in 20 years, though it may for someone else. Likely success in this case is meant to be generic, to be whatever success means to the reader. But then, in that case, would the advice in the article ever be relevant to a person’s own so-called barriers to success? It’s bound to be a list of all the traits that a normal person can’t possibly give up if they are defined by exactly that. Normal. But I take the bait.

It’s a list. I skim through the bolded text – that’s the important bit. Yes, the little tidbits of wisdom that I can say I’ve absorbed for the day, a day unwasted. Except that I reach the end and feel that I haven’t been enlightened. There is nothing new that I can add to my hoarded treasure trove of forsaken goals on my way to a seemingly unreachable “success”.

I’m generally healthy. I go to the gym. I do things. I plan for the long-term. I take opportunities – not only the small ones I like to think. I very much take responsibility for what happens next. Perhaps too much so. I know that learning takes effort, and that I have the discretion to make that learning happen. I don’t believe that it’ll happen overnight. In fact, I’d be disappointed if it did. I gave up perfectionism long ago – I’m told failure is supposed to be healthy. I’ll keep going with that for my own sanity. I’ve learned that to be really efficient, I cannot – cannot – multi-task. I don’t need to control everything – again, my goal is sanity. Okay, I admit, I’m working on not saying yes to everything. I’m improving. I’ve most definitely given up on toxic people, just ask my friends. The real ones. Okay, I’ll make another concession. My need to be liked still hangs around, but I can’t say I’m in it for mass appeal. Dependency on television doesn’t seem to exist. In fact, the opposite seems to be the problem in my ability to be a normal social human being.

So is there anything in there? I’ll admit, a few were borderline. But for the most part, I’d say that I’m pretty satisfied in my ability to say that I effectively don’t have any of these “bad habits”. So what do I do now? If these are all that I need to give up to be successful, by my own definition, why does the path to success seem so obscure? Perhaps it’s more of a question of reaching that satisfactory definition of success. At this point, it’s more probable that I’ll never reach it simply because I’ll never be able to define it. When will I feel that I’ve “made it”? Maybe that’s a list worth reading.

Razor Blades

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Yes. It boggles my mind. It boggles my mind that an entire industry can be created and designed and financed and consumed based on a socially constructed desire. Seemingly inconsequential, these 1- or 3- or 4- or…5-(?!?!)bladed configurations presumably do not save lives or better humanity (except for apparently, in the realm of a larger social construct, increasing the potential for copulation among its subscribers – but then, depending on how you look at it, this could also be argued not to better mankind’s existence in any sense – but I digress).

Yet, as I stand in Walgreens, I am forced to make a resolute selection between number of curve-hugging blades, pre-determined “feminine” colors, ribbons of moisture and conditioning strips, titanium coats, and micro-fine combs, between the Embrace and the Swirl, Slim, Hydro, and Xtreme. And it occurs to me, as these things often do – so…this is someone’s job, possibly life’s work, to design this simple device, and offer all of this choice diversity in the product, for my consumption? Made to cut the little hairs and peel the skin from my legs. To make it acceptable for me to walk about in society barelegged. To make me desirable to touch and feel. And are they…satisfied? Did they grow up dreaming of coming to work everyday pouring over design tables, plastic parts, sketches to design and manufacture…razors? This is significant to this person…?

Probably not. I’d venture to guess that more often then not, it’s a job. It pays bills and provides. Or if it is passion, it’s not for the final product of the hailed razor. It is difficult for me to imagine for various reasons: One, the inconsequence of the product. Again, presumably. In the grand scheme of life – I would hope – for all of our sakes. Two, how this feeds into individuals’ satisfaction with their work and life. After all, so much of our lives have become defined by our work, i.e. what is your legacy? And that is their LIFE’S WORK, or some part of it. I hope they find it thrilling. I truly do. Three, you’re telling me that this industry creates and sways its own market based on the insecurities promulgated by a strategic narrative of what is pleasing and what should be, a fabricated ideal. Interesting.

And, of course, the questions amass. How many other products out there would encourage the same thoughts? What does it mean to be consequential in the convoluted, awkward, hypercritical realm of social constructs that we’ve created for ourselves? When do people settle? Where do they find their satisfaction instead, accepting that they will spend 40 or more hours a week doing just this? In a society and alleged social structure where we are told that we always have a choice, do we really? In job, career, impact? Especially when time is only shorter. Really, I only have questions. No answers for this one.

Standing awkwardly in the aisle for these two full minutes, I finally press the button to call the attendant to open the case – because yes, in this city, they lock up the razors. And yes, this makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

“That one,” I point.

She hands it to me – green, four blades, all the gadgets and gizmos.

“Thanks.”