“Always the bride’s maid, never the bride,” I said, when my daughter was asked to the Homecoming Dance as a freshman.
“That’s not true,” my husband said. “You’ve been the bride.”
He was right, both literally and metaphorically.
Although I was using the cliché to describe a disappointment in my life, my husband’s observation brought my perspective into focus. I had a bad habit of taking the tiny victories in my life for granted because I was too preoccupied working toward bigger, better dreams.
Unlike other people who can savor their achievements, I seem to skip ahead to the next milestone without blinking. When I fail to reach the next goal in a timely manner, I collapse into despair. I dwell on what I haven’t achieved instead of being grateful for everything I have accomplished.
Yes, I didn’t attend the Homecoming Dance as a freshman. But I did attend my Senior Ball.
Yes, my first novel was self-published. But my second novel was purchased by a Canadian publisher.
Yes, my artwork wasn’t selected as a background selection for checks through a licensing company. But my original paintings grace living rooms and offices in North America.
Yes, I still hold a full-time job in a less than creative field. But I am able to offer creative solutions to corporate problems because my imagination is agile from the daily exercise of writing and painting in my off hours.
Instead of comparing my success and failure to others, I need to focus on myself and my growth as a person, a writer, and an artist. There will always be others who are more or less successful. The key is to be grateful for the success I’ve earned while I continue to strive for more.
Because you can only be a bride for a limited number of times, but you can be a bride’s maid for as many times as you are asked by as many people as you may know. Your big successes will be few, but your tiny victories will be plentiful. It’s those victories you need to cherish.