Yesterday, I posed a question on Facebook I’ve been considering a lot lately:

How do you define success?

This usually happens whenever people congratulate me on my success, or say they’re proud of my success, or just use the term in relation to me or my work.

To be honest, it makes me very uneasy.

I immediately start feeling like a fraud because I don’t feel particularly successful. I have a BOATLOAD of student loans, credit card debt, a car note, a kid who always needs things, and a safety net with so many holes in it I’d probably drop right through (and I have…several times).

But to some people I’m “successful.” I work as a full-time writer, had my name in some magazines, met some celebrities, write books, I’ve traveled. I guess my life *looks* successful to them, even though it doesn’t actually feel that way to me.

Why? It comes down to how we see it.

My Facebook pals had some great insights.

One person said, “It’s more mental. The satisfaction gained from better choices, lessons learned, and believing in oneself. Although I love nice shit success isn’t at all material gains for me.”

Another said success was “doing something I love each day.”

Yet another said they felt successful  “any day that I end feeling fulfilled, joyful, and that I’ve brought value to others, whether or not I am compensated for it, yet quite nice when I am compensated well for my work.”

To be honest, I’m not sure how I define success. I can get all new agey and say that I’ll feel successful when I’m completely happy with myself. But seriously? My definition of success is probably tied too closely to money. And being that–as a freelancer–my money is often cracking jokes and I have to juggle this and that, I don’t feel successful because I don’t feel free.

To me, success = freedom.

Freedom to do whatever you want, whenever you want. That’s what success looks like to me. And I’m not there yet.

For you, it might look different.

And that’s ok.

One thing I’m continually reminded of is that we can’t get caught up in other people’s definitions, paths, or journeys. Because if we do, we fail.

It’s not always easy to define your life on your own terms, but when you do…things start to fall into place. But does that make you a success?

I’m not so sure.

How do you define success? Please leave a comment below.

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