Imagine if you had all the money in the world. Your beauty would be incomparable to the top models today and you would have all the time to do what you want. Wouldn’t that be nice? Wouldn’t that be called a ‘successful life’?
When I was in high school, I was completely absorbed in studying and excelling in class. As the pressure went on, I simply made myself consumed with the thought to become the best. A few years passed, and all my hard work paid off. I graduated top in class, sitting at the front row seat before the other 1300 students to witness. I stood up proudly and happily as I received my award. It was great. But that greatness of feeling soon disappeared as I stared blankly into thin air asking myself, is this really what I want? Is this success? Or is there something else?
It took years before I realized how important relationships are. And when we say relationships, I am talking about the good ones. The ones that make us happy, the ones that make us feel at peace. I’ve seen people in my life who have dedicated their lives to their businesses, jobs, and other things unconsciously excluding themselves from the important people in their lives.
I can’t say I am an expert, since I haven’t reached that moment in life when I’ve known a lot of people and can give advices to people. I know the importance of experience but I also know the importance of learning from other people’s experiences. So among the relationships that we have in life, let me tell you some of my realizations.
Why do we need to have happy relationships with anyone around us? A happy relationship doesn’t have to be intimate or doesn’t require a memorable experience to happen. It exists because everyone within the relationship circle is at peace and works together in harmony. Ever experienced hating someone in your office or in your school? You’ll enter the room trying to look okay while using your peripheral vision; you try to peak in and check whatever he or she might be doing. Then you feel worse when you see him happy even if you just fought a few minutes ago. The truth is, conflicts with other people does not just destroy them—it also destroys us. I’ve been into this situation so many times and I guess everyone would agree that the feeling is not good. Hate isn’t good and it will never be.
A few months ago, I was talking to a friend of mine who is a businesswoman from Thailand. I was asking her about her secret and how she defined success. Among all the tips that she said, there is one thing that she emphasized to me the most– and it’s about relationships. She said she doesn’t have a lot of friends. Acquaintances, maybe, but the real ones, the ones she considered true and genuine are so few. When we are still starting in our career, isn’t it so good to have people believe in you, people who are there for you even if you still haven’t gotten further? When you’re still on your way to becoming a superstar actress or maybe you’re still doing your first few sketches to achieve your dream as a painter. I’m not saying that everyone you’ll meet once you’re at the top will be fake, but what I’m saying is that we need to treasure those who have faith in us especially those who have been there earlier in the game. So if you’re busy becoming the best in your career today, never take for granted the people who have been with you since day one. They may not be there all the time, but knowing that there are people who believe in you even if you are not doing that great is superb. Those are the types of relationships worth treasuring.
Your parents may be the hardest people in the world to please. Your siblings may be the most selfish ones who like to quarrel with you all the time. Your partner may be a different person after getting married, compared to the time when you we’re still going out. Despite these, these people are those who you still call ‘home’—the people who you know are real, have seen you grow, and have been with you for a very long time. Even if we are busy being the best in our jobs to earn money just to provide for our kids, buy our mom a new set of clothes, or pay the bills for the family, I believe it is still important to go back to our main reason why we do these things. Is it for you alone? Is it for prestige? Is it to get material things? Or is it really to help the important people around us and make them happy? I’ve seen husbands who would allow their clients to occupy five days of their work, making sure nobody would demand the two remaining days saved for their special loved ones. I saw a great financial advisor leave a seminar right after finishing his talk to make it to his daughter’s school performance. I’ve seen a mother who went home late at night, tired from wearing her high heeled shoes demanded to be worn at work, to stay awake to help her daughter finish her project. These stories are just few compared to other more inspiring stories of people who– despite excelling in their jobs—do not forget spending quality time and building happy relationship with their loved ones.
I believe true success is having a self-sufficient and happy life. Some people find it from material possessions, some base it on fame, and many other things. I think that that life is like a collage and every single aspect of it helps and builds us as a complete individual. Even if the world is trying to make things faster, and we are surrounded by demands to become the best in work, our businesses, at school, or in any other field, we must never forget to treasure the relationships we have. One day, once we reach the top, I’m hoping we won’t be uttering the phrase “It is lonely here at the top.”