Choosing Positivity & Redefining Success

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I took an Uber cab for the first time a few weeks ago, on the night my coworkers and I went to the holiday party at work. I don’t usually talk to cab drivers much. Not on principle, of course, but mostly because I’ve only ever taken a cab twice in my life, and also because I’m just not very good at small talk. It makes me a little nervous.

If you don't like where you are, change it. You are not a tree. | Choosing to be positive when you're not.

That night I was in the car with three other coworkers who engaged our Uber driver in conversation. We learned he and his wife were originally from Eritrea and they had immigrated to the US in the last year. He told us about how he permanently left his family back home to come here—permanently as in he literally can’t go back. Apparently Eritrea doesn’t like it very much when you leave and they don’t make it very easy to do. He said if you get caught crossing the border, the guards there can shoot you on sight. You don’t hear about Eritrea very much, but there are some serious human rights violations going on there.

So he told us about how he spent months hopping from country to country—Sudan, Syria, places you generally don’t want to visit too long—until he got to Crete, then Italy, hoping to somewhere along the way get access to the papers he needed to enter the US. He was caught in Italy without the documentation he needed and was deported back to Eritrea, where he was sentenced to three years in jail, only to start the same journey right over again upon being released. It took him and his wife five years to get here.

Talk about getting back on the horse.

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”-Maya Angelou

I hesitated to make New Years resolutions this year, because history (and TIME) has shown me it is quite likely I will fail to keep them. And with all that past failure, I found myself having a hard time getting motivated to really change anything, even though there is a lot I would like to do better this year. And that’s when I had an uncharacteristically positive thought.

What if success is not an end result, but a process?

That changes things. Looking at “failure” as just the last couple of fleeting seconds at the end of a relatively much longer streak of success means failure shouldn’t be significant enough to discourage you from keeping on and trying again. And if success is more of a way to describe the process than a way to label the result, I have been far more successful in the past than I’ve realized. And that feels good. That motivates me.


This post was going to be a long list of things I wanted to do differently this year. It would’ve been very list-y. Eat more vegetables. Go to the gym more often. Eat-in more. Check my blood sugar more. Plan more. Journal more. Budget more. Blog more. Read more. Learn more. Do more. But sometimes less is more, so I’m going to cross all those off the list and instead put only one thing down:

Choosing Positvity

I feel like many of the resolutions I had on my list were going to be impossible to actually accomplish. One major thing I would like to do this year, for example, is get my blood sugar under tight control (type 1 diabetic here), which is going to be a monumental task. An every-waking-hour-of-the-day kind of task. A worthwhile task, though, since I want to be able to have a healthy baby one day, and living much past 65 would be pretty darn nice too. But I struggle with managing my disease, and I have lived with uncontrollable blood sugar swinging up and down for so long no matter what I do that a big part of me doesn’t think I’m actually capable of doing it. And that’s the key right there: I don’t think I can do it. There are a lot of things I don’t think I can do.

So it’s time to start changing the way I think. Choose positivity. It’s concise, simple, not terribly difficult, and yet something I do far too little. So it feels like a good first step. Baby steps, like they say.

So, friends, here is to a new year, and to getting back on the horse. I’m pretty sure if I were that Uber cab driver I wouldn’t have had the guts to accomplish what he and his wife did. I hope that next year, though, I will be at least a baby step closer to being that kind of person.