Is success your social currency?

When being successful guarantees we’ll fit in.

Susan Doerksen Castro
3 min readApr 5

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Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

I’ve always wanted to belong. To fit in.

Years of living abroad meant lots of fractured relationships that, when you’re a kid you just don’t know how to maintain. Those were the days of snail mail and phone calling…

All my endeavours at becoming “successful” then — according to mainstream standards, were my way to fit in and belong.

Because let’s face it, in our world of “So, what do you do?” as our classic conversational opener, it’s not so hard to decode what our culture deems as success.

So I did just that. I became successful.

Does being successful guarantee we’ll fit in?

Maybe.

For me, being successful meant I had all the socially acceptable standards met, boxes checked; the credentials, title, (and doing cool work to boot), education, money, and on the list went.

My day to day set of accomplishments was impressive too — I knew how to get shit done. All this while being wife, mom of two and working out and being in a book club and volunteering.

I had figured out how to fit in. I finally belonged.

For a time, pursuing success was extremely liberating. I could shake off the shame of not fitting in and flash my stars of success and “boom” I was in The Club.

Is redefining success disruptive?

Like many of you I got to a point on this path of hustle and grind where I said: “I am successful (+ I fit in and was finally “cool”), so why don’t I feel successful?”

I felt empty. Successful yes, but empty inside.

Call me a slow learner, but success doesn’t create belonging. A version of success that is based on having all the boxes checked can’t nourish you on the inside.

So right now, in my own life I’m tending to my inner 13 who wants to fit in, as well as the part of me that wants to be and feel successful on the inside. And I know that while it feels like war inside, there can be room for both agendas.

Is success social currency?

Right now I’m living this question. The more my own values, POV, ideas and dreams come to the fore, the more I know I’m walking away from conventional success. It might not look like this to anyone else, but in my heart, I know I’m traveling closer to fully belonging to me.

Some days this feels great, and some days more challenging.

Wherever you are in your journey, I see you.

Thank you for being on it with me.

To our shared new way of success!

Like what you’re reading? Every Tuesday, a letter like this can land in your inbox, giving you a wee chance to keep interrupting the high speed train of “this is The Way to be successful” we’re constantly pushed into: www.womenredefiningsuccess.com/the-tuesday-letter

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Susan Doerksen Castro

Entrepreneur & Integral Master Coach™ helping accomplished women redefine success so they can realize a new, more fulfilling agenda for their lives.