My uncensored opinion about “success”

She sat alone in the locker room after the fight, thoughts of suicide on her mind and one question in her head:

“What am I anymore, if I’m not this?”

Imagine what it would mean to be the absolute best at what you did. The best photographer. The best business. Whatever it is that fills your dreams.

Would you be happy?


Would you be satisfied?

Would you find the peace you’ve been looking for?

Or is it all just a lie we tell ourselves?

UFC champion Ronda Rousey was the most successful fighter in UFC history. She accomplished something at a level few ever will in their respective fields. But her loss to Holly Holm—her only professional loss ever—was enough to make her consider ending it all.

How much weight does success carry?

We spend our lives trying to rise above the fray. To build a rock-solid foundation with sturdy walls to protect us.

But what happens when the walls meant to protect us contain us?

It’s a vicious cycle.

Inspiration defines you, then definition limits you. The further the inspiration takes you and the more you get of exactly what you want—to be something, achieve something, and have something—the greater the attachment and the harder it gets to return to the openness and freedom that got you there in the first place.

In the beginning, it doesn’t matter what we do. There’s nothing to lose, because we don’t know what’s right and what’s wrong. We don’t know what we’re supposed to do and who we should be.

But success creates fear and asks us to become imitations of ourselves. It tells us what we should do, how we should live, and the most damning of all ideas — that we are something. Because knowing who you are is knowing who you are not, and knowing who you are not means knowing all the things you don’t do, won’t do, can’t accept, and won’t accept.

The further we go down the path, the more we embrace “no” in the face of possibility.

It’s a life that’s one failure away from falling apart. Brittle, cold, and unforgiving—drained of the ability to endure.

Don’t let comfort come at the expense of hope and potential.

The world will tell you success looks a lot like having it all, and that once you get there, the pain will fade and the insecurity will leave, when it’s this exact idea—that you need to be somewhere other than right where you are at this very instant—that creates the pain and insecurity.

Don’t buy into it.

Don’t believe that you don’t have what you need. Don’t believe that you’re not already more. Or that more even matters.

Too often, we feel we aren’t measuring up, when in reality, we just don’t see we’ve grown out of ourselves, and we’re already something different and new.

We forget that the greater reality of the universe is not that there are limits, but that there aren’t. That nothing is known or defined, and the only failure is to stop.

So don’t stop.

Don’t worry.

And keep on moving.

—Spencer Lum

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