• Kathie Scalf

Lonely at the Top


One thing I was not prepared for is just how isolating personal growth can be.

Life is definitely not linear, and it’s becoming increasingly obvious that having an active social life is not correlated in any way to success. In fact, it’s beginning to seem like the exact opposite.

Maybe the old saying “misery loves company” runs far deeper than I realized, because in a rearview assessment of my life to date, the times I was at rock bottom or living in a way that was unhealthy or self-destructive, I was flush with “friends.” But the toughest moments when I needed people the most or when I made the hard commitments to improve my life, I had to endure those times on my own. I try not to let this circumstance discourage me, but it is a little disheartening at times.

I started a new job on April 4th. I was not really seeking employment when this opportunity was presented to me, but I decided to interview anyway and was made a great offer from a fantastic company that is exactly the direction I’ve worked toward in my career for the last 15 years. Unfortunately because of my past experience with miserable people, I have been hesitant in sharing this news publicly, even though I’m extremely proud of myself and want to celebrate what is probably a milestone moment. I’m sad to say, but in my life any time the pendulum swings in a very positive direction, it tends to swing backward equally as hard, knocking me on my butt and teaching me that sharing successes only leads to very public failure so it’s best to keep my mouth shut.

I’ve spent a lifetime doubting myself, feeling like a fraud or undeserving of good things; I guess being conditioned to disappointment is a natural reaction to being raised without a lot of money. It’s taken me 36 years of learning lessons the hard way, hating myself from the inside out, expecting the worst, being betrayed by people I loved more than anything and most importantly, pushing myself to get back up and crawl forward after every single setback. People don’t see that though, because let’s face it, no one wants to share their failures. But after the most brutal 5 years I could have never imagined, I’ve grown into a woman who finally accepts herself, knows her worth and won’t compromise it, and I’m truthfully the happiest I’ve ever been. This mindset of self-love, self-awareness and self-control is finally manifesting in success and inner peace, but not without some loss along the way.

Success makes insecure people feel upset. Insecure people don’t want to see anyone doing better than them; they perceive it as a personal attack. That’s why when you begin to make healthier life choices, you’ll notice people starting to disappear. I can find a hundred drinking buddies but do you know how many gym friends I have? One-and we both travel so much for work it’s a miracle if we’re able to coordinate 2 workouts a month. Insecure people won’t congratulate you on your milestone moments; instead they want to remind you of your past self, your past failures, or encourage you to fall back into old habits. These people are energy leeches and until they fix what’s broken in them, they will only derive joy in seeing their “friends” flail around in the same mediocrity right alongside them.

I experienced this firsthand last weekend at an industry event for work. I ran into basically my entire team of former coworkers from a previous company. I loved these guys and only left that job because I financially couldn’t afford to stay, so I was really pumped to see all of them back in the field after taking almost a year off. All my former teammates welcomed me with hugs and congratulations and it felt great to be back doing something I enjoy and still getting to mingle with people I was so close to. It was a little odd that my former managers didn’t approach me, but I just assumed they were busy, as it was definitely a sold-out event. But apparently this was an intentional snub, my former superiors being catty about my new role, instead of being happy to see me stepping up in my career since my amicable departure.

The amount of people who wish to see others fail has been such an eye opener. There are folks who are so scared of your potential that they can’t handle seeing you improve. They want to cling to an outdated version of yourself, and no matter what you achieve they will only recognize the messy, chaotic person with whom they were first acquainted. I think it scares them, because when a person finally realizes their own self-worth, they are unstoppable; that is a threat to people who are scared to be left behind.

The good news is, this is the only time in your life where trash will take itself out. Keep living a healthy life, believe you deserve the good things when they come, enjoy your successes and then just watch who stays and who goes. Those people who fall off, ghost, pick a fight, or suddenly become “too busy”… let them go in peace. Wish them all the happiness they didn’t want for you. Then most importantly, appreciate those people who are still standing next to you. If there was 1 person who was wiping your tears at your lowest with no ulterior motive, I can just about guarantee that person will still be there to clap for you at your best, and there probably won’t be many of them. But it’s of the utmost importance to learn how to clap for yourself. Be able to wipe your own tears. Be strong enough to stay the course when things fall apart, because you are the captain of your life’s ship, and if the captain doesn’t know how to steer the boat or navigate the waters, the ship sinks. And we all saw Titanic- the captain always goes down with the ship.

Here’s to an exciting week of endless opportunities for success and happiness. We’re headed straight for May and already summer 2022 seems like it’s gonna be a good one, even if I’m doing it solo!