You’ve made it – what now?

Reflections on what it means to have "made it," from an immigrant who has, by most standards, made it.

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I’d say I’m pretty successful, or at least that’s the way that I’m seen by people in my community.

I have a lot of the things that are markers for success from someone in my community, and I have been where many others want desperately to be. Having a car, buying a house, a job with health insurance – for some these things may seem pretty normal, but for someone born in Cuba, and having lived just a few short years in the United States, it is a lot.

Indeed for many from the immigrant community, it is everything.

In Cuba, where cars are old (to the delight of visitors) yet prohibitively expensive to most, to have a car is almost a matter of sheer luck. Not to mention that the housing situation in Cuba could and probably does break the Guinness World Record for the number of members of one family living crammed into the same “two square meters.”

To have left the island, and to have accumulated these things and made a decent, comfortable life, is the ultimate pinnacle of success. It’s what your family wants and dreams for you.

But now that I have “made it” by these standards, having all these things that seem common and necessary where I live now but are so out of reach where I’ve from, I realize that they aren’t actually all that necessary.  

They don’t define the state of success in my life, really. Because it feels that there is still so much success left to be fought for – and none of it has to do with having things.

The truth is that while achieving what could be considered sublime by the friends and family I’ve left behind in Cuba, I don’t feel that I’ve achieved everything, not even close to it. No, not in more to earn, but in how to be.

I see my real goals as not based on completing the expected, but rather on breaking my own expectations.

I haven’t met many who understand that. In my case, they don’t understand why I want to go back to Cuba, when it seems I have all that anyone would want right here.

Maybe you’ve accomplished what has been dreamed for you.

Yet, it’s important to ask yourself if it is what you’ve really wanted – if you’re living your dream or someone else’s. If the success you’ve arrived at is really the destination you wanted to be in the first place.

Does what you have make you feel like you’ve made it?

Happiness if not outside of us, and it certainly goes beyond the rigors and demands of society. It’s not found in status symbols, and it doesn’t require meeting every standard and expectation.

It most certainly is not about possessions.

We’re in the middle of a time with a purpose: to learn something, to acquire a habit, to help someone, to inspire the lives of others, or be inspired by someone else. The moment has arrived when you need to leave behind what others think and stop living by what society expects of you.

Stop conforming to its patterns, and go for your own dreams.

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