All societies seem to agree we all search for success but different societies have different ideas of what SUCCESS means. For instance: egyptian women, in general, will define success according to the marriage and children they have – a successful marriage may well mean, in this case, being married to a man who pays all the bills and protects the wife (or wives) and their children. A woman´s worth is defined by these two things: her husband and her children (QUALITY, HAPPINESS and TRUE LOVE are totally arbitrary and unrealistic in this context).
In the East, women´s success depends mainly on her professional emancipation and position in society, aside from the kind of man she has by her side (legally married or not). Children are still a BIG ISSUE and a typical pressure over every woman´s head but the understanding that giving birth to babies does not define you as a human being and the recognition that you don´t need to be a genius to give birth to children are taken in consideration – therefore, an increasing number of women are choosing NOT to have children of their own and still be considered quite successful.
Then there is the SUCCESS of a dream accomplished, a Mission you´ve followed with success, a victory or set of victories that distinguish you from the rest. The Punter and the followers of the punter (check what “punt” means; p.s: I miss Oxford!). We´ve all heard the prettiest side of it, the glamour, the interviews on television and newspapers, the public recognition – that´s all great and I´m deeply thankful for having enjoyed so much of it since I´ve started my Oriental Dance Journey back in Portugal, all the way through Egypt and, more recently, all around the world.
* What nobody tells us about success is the following:
1. Success is highly personal. If you let others define what success means TO YOU, you´re basically screwed. What makes a person feel victorious and accomplished may not make you feel the same way. The definition of SUCCESS is not universal, as we´re lead to think – it´s a highly personal matter.
2. The climbing of the mountain – as I often refer to it – is not a straight line filled with flowers, star-filled nights and sunny days. Be sure: if you walk the RIGHT, HONEST PATH, you´ll find rocks and snakes as well as some rare helping hands (less frequent than the rocks and the snakes but way more powerful when your climbing starts in your heart and follows through with integrity).
3. The top of the mountain is a lonely place. You may have the public recognition and a loving crowd that gets larger and larger as your work becomes more widely known but the peak of the climbing is full of solitute.
4. Fake friends will show up from every corner once you´re up, according to them. Old friends may get jealous, envious and resentful towards you; many will start to hate you for no apparent reason and betray you; it gets harder to make true, new friends who are genuinely interested in you as a person and not as the artist X or Y.
5.You become a mirror for other people´s frustrations and you´ll have to deal – as wisely as possible – with those angry birds they´ll throw at you. Tricky one.
6. The public and the artist have totally different ideas of success. There have been times when people considered me extremely successful and I felt otherwise; the same way applies when the public thinks you´re down, for any reason, but you know you´re growing as a human being and as an artist.
7. Success that was achieved through dishonesty, selling your body and soul to the devil or stepping on other people for your own benefit is not real success. Nothing tastes as delicious as success that was achieved EXCLUSIVELY though your talent, serious committment, perseverance, courage, work and honesty.
8. Success can turn you into an asshole if you don´t have a strong family background, a good education and your two feet on the ground. This too shall pass – I think it´s written in the Bible. No doubt. Success, no matter how extended it may be, will end one day and what you have left is YOURSELF without the neon lights shinning around you. Be sure you build yourself as a WORTHY person while you climb that mountain and don´t lose humbleness and direct contact with “real life”, whatever that may be.
9. You´ll be introduced to the “Haters Club” – people who hardly know you but hate you just because.
10. If you´re a man and you´re successful, you´re safe. Women usually like successful men and support their partners´dreams. If you´re a woman and you shine more than your man, congratulations: you´re in deep shit (pardon my French). Most men have a tolerance limit towards their women´s success: if they´re less successful than them (the natural order of things), it´s perfect; if they´re as successful as they are, they shut up but the yellow light is on; if their women are more successful than them for a persistent amount of time, their brains explode and they break: if´s ME or your ambition, honey! If I´d won a dollar for every time I saw this happen, I´d ve rich by now.
11.The hardest one: professional success doesn´t garantee happiness. It REALLY doesn´t. We´re multi-dimensional creatures; our minds & hearts are way more complicated than we probably wish they were. Having a healthy body, mind, heart and soul; a handfull (no need for more) of TRUE friends who know you for real and appreciate you for who you are, love (romantic or other) and PURPOSE in your life are the base for everything else. Without these, no other success means much.
Having said this: I hope all of us achieve that which makes our heart sing without losing our humanity on the way up: that´s MY definition of success*********************