The loneliness of success
So, finally, you’ve reached the peak of the mountain. That dream you’ve worked on for decades has finally materialised. You’re now on television, your songs are streamed by millions of people daily, your book sales are over the roof, you’re the most sought after speaker in your field, you’re an authority in the medical/surgical sciences, a legal luminary, an accomplished media personality, a celebrated artist, you’re now a multi-millionaire etc.
But lo you look around, it’s all empty, hollow and silent.
Hello Paul, where are you?
Cynthia, are you there? You shout at the top of your voice but silence responds with the echo of your voice.
All of a sudden it dawns on you that no one is around. You’ve finally achieved the success you were searching for; the celebrity status you so much lusted after is here. But all of a sudden it’s quiet, you can hardly hear the chirping of the birds.
Success: what next?
“So, what next? Is this all that success has to offer? Is this all that there is?”
Most times all we are taught and encouraged to do is “chase after success, don’t be a failure.” But no one teaches us how it truly feels when we get there. Yes, you finally get to escape poverty and climb the social ladder, but do you know that success can feel so lonely, so quiet, so silent and sometimes, even depressing?
You’ve always imagined success to be all about celebrations and parties, meeting with the top echelon of society and all the glamour. That’s true but that represents a small percentage of your time. You do those for a few weeks or months and attend some high profile occasions here and there. The ungodly can finally visit all the brothels to sleep with all the ladies or men their heart desire. But after that what next?
Everyone thinks you’ve arrived, longtime friends either distance from you or only come for your money; sycophants fill your house, suspicion and lack of trust sets in; you can no longer walk the streets freely or shop around the corner as other times. You have to live in a certain place meant for certain people who hardly see nor talk to one another. You’re lost.
Is this what I signed up for? Everyone thinks I’m lucky but proud. And I think that they’re lazy and arrogant. Isolation starts; I cut off from old friends and in my contact list you only have the people I consider essential to my ambitions; family takes a back seat and yes-men fill the front role. It’s lonely out here people! Can anyone hear me?
Addicted to the chase or the drug of success
Mind you, success can be one of the most potent drugs in the universe. You take it and you want more and more. Not really because you need it but because you feel the urge to replicate those feelings again and again and again. You want something new, more exciting, more fun, a higher place to get to.
You’re always asking yourself “what next? What more can I achieve? What is more for me to grab? Who is more famous? Who is more influential? Who knows more? Who can sway the audience more?” More… more… more… and some… more. Then… more.
When you can no longer think of something more, or when the next thing isn’t readily available or no longer as satisfying, what next? Some people resort to hard drinks and hard drugs, more sexual escapades and other dangerous adventures. That’s all they want. That’s all they think they need.
Consequences of the loneliness of success
“What am I here for? For what purpose is my life?” We often think that these are questions a poor child who is trying to make sense out of this world asks. But that’s not altogether true.
Some of the people who are most unsure and uneasy about their purpose in this universe are the ones who have achieved success. They’re so troubled in their lives that they spend money and time in conferences, books, tapes etc. in search of life meaning. Some end up in severe depression and others, unfortunately, commit suicide.
Some celebrities now wish that the day/night could be shortened to a few hours. They’re tired of long days.
Prepare for it
Success can really be lonely if you do not prepare for it. And what other better way to prepare than to accept Jesus Christ into your life; have a strong & healthy family relationship and make honest and sincere friends who aren’t carried away by your new status. I shall be talking about these measures in my next articles.
Let’s end with a quote from the wise man, Solomon, who we can say reached the zenith of success.
Then I took a good look at everything I’d done, looked at all the sweat and hard work. But when I looked, I saw nothing but smoke. Smoke and spitting into the wind. There was nothing to any of it. Nothing. Ecclesiastes 2:11 MSG