I thought I was living the life of my dreams. Over the past ten years, I’ve had some very awesome opportunities all over the world.

I helped women who were victims of human trafficking in the busy streets of Thailand. I created community with drug traffickers in the extremely violent favelas of Brazil. I aided terminal patients who were picked up from the streets die with dignity in Mother Theresa’s famous House of the Dying in India.

In addition to doing all this work overseas, I also got involved with a non-profit film-making group where I had the opportunity to produce, write, edit, and direct films for a good cause. Through this work, I was fortunate to have made films with various celebrities and professional actors that received millions of views on YouTube.

I thought all of this was what I wanted to do with my life, but I still felt miserable.

It took a lot of these cool trips and achievements to realize I still didn’t have a strong sense of fulfillment in my life. I convinced myself my life would have more meaning by trying to find the next big achievement to put under my belt.

It was an addiction.

I would go out and get inspired only to come home and hit rock-bottom feeling worthless and inadequate. It took so many years of these big highs and lows to finally understand that I’ve been investing my energy in all the wrong things.

I’ve accomplished enough things in my life to know it’s not the accomplishment itself that makes me happy. What I needed the most was more authentic connection.

Then the truth finally dawned on me.

If you aren’t happy now, no achievement will make you happy later. When pursuing your dreams, cultivating genuine connections with the ones you love is what makes all the difference.

The truth of this took me so long to realize. I thought I wanted to become financially successful, well-known and respected. These desires which consumed me masked my deeper craving for intimacy I so badly wanted.

Coming from a broken family had a negative effect on my sense of self worth, so I worked hard to accomplish things hoping others would acknowledge me.

I thought if I kept doing cool things to impress cool people, my value as a person would go up another level, but I always still felt like I wasn’t enough.

By focusing too much on how to please and impress people, I was actually shutting them out. They only loved the me I was portraying, not the me I really was.

All I wanted was to be truly known and understood, but I was too cowardly to take the necessary steps to be vulnerable.

I’m still trying my best to continually invest in loving relationships and it’s been quite the challenge.

It’s very attractive to try to learn about how to find my dream job and pursue my passions without having to address the deeper fear inside of letting myself be known.

I had no fear going into some of the most violent and ugly places in the world, but I was terrified when trying to be true to myself without fearing harsh judgement. Turns out the thing I needed the most also involved the greatest risk.

Connection keeps life beautiful, not the accomplishment, so be true to yourself.

Trusting someone to see the real me was the most terrifying yet the most important thing I had to do in my life. The walls I built around myself may have protected me from getting hurt, but it also imprisoned me in my own loneliness.

It’s an ongoing process, but I’ve been learning to love and accept myself as I am and being ok with letting others see me for who I am. I couldn’t smash down the walls in an epic fashion, but I slowly had to take them down brick by brick.

The featured photo at the top of this page is a statue made for Burning Man one year and it struck me how accurate it was when it came to difficult times in my relationships.

The hurtful things we say and do to each other pulls us apart, but all the inner child in us wants is to connect.

Wouldn’t the world be so much better with more people who tried to connect with each other rather than impress each other?

Doing cool things are a lot of fun, but it’s only fulfilling when you have the support and love from sincere relationships with those who are dear to you.

Maybe today you’ve realized what you’ve been working so hard to achieve actually isn’t what you really wanted.

Maybe like me, you need to take a step back and realize the reason you are just stuck in life is not because of what you haven’t accomplished yet, but because of the lack of intimacy in your life.

You may need to spend some time understanding the bravest thing you can do is to risk loving people on a daily basis even though you may get hurt because it allows a chance for authentic connection.

So before you go off on your next adventure to fulfill your dreams, first commit to taking down the walls in you life and muster up the courage to be geniune.

When loving relationships in your life flourish, you find the fulfillment you’ve been looking for the whole time.

Your potential begins to unleash and you discover your talents and utilize them in ways you never imagined. The uncertainty in your future becomes an exciting adventure rather than an anxiety-filled burden. You’ll find happiness now rather than being too busy chasing after it.

Cheers to keeping life beautiful.

If you enjoyed this post, then you might also enjoy my free guide, Four Steps to Instantly Jumpstart Your Best Life Ever to find the clarity you need in order to find your passion, talents and community.

Originally published at medium.com