Over the course of my career I have equated success with "faking" or selling out in some way.
I made the assumption that if I wanted to be "successful," socially, financially, occupationally, in other words for anyone to possibly value me and what I could offer, I would need to do serious self-sculpting. The alternative to "success," in my mind, was to drop out and become a hippie. In fact when I decided to live a few months in a yoga-centric town in India this was my greatest fear.
Over the years my equation of success with selling out has manifested in workaholism, career decisions that felt like compromises, and difficulties with authenticity, among other things.
There's nothing wrong with honing yourself and adapting to circumstances, of course, except when it's mostly a form of hiding and a complete dismissal of your gut instincts.
You might be selling out if:
If you meet these criteria and aren't satisfied with the results, the good news is that there are lots of ways to get back in the driver's seat and achieve the outcomes you really long for in your own way.
Selling out is not a given, but shifting from an outside-in to an inside-out existence is going to require perspective, soul searching, and unconditional support along the way. Because the fact is, finding your own way is scary, and many of us substitute social norms and others' often well-intentioned suggestions for the deeper truths inside of us. Social proof feels more foolproof, and faking it becomes easy.
There is a place for tactical moves and managing impressions, of course, but 360 degree success and selling out are incompatible, at the end of the day. Ultimately you'll only reap the bounties of your internal drives and abilities if you make the space for them. What will stop you from making that space today?