A lot of us are soon to be thrust out into the ‘real world’, whatever that means. And the common mood is “I’m not ready!”, with the pressures of freedom looming on the horizon. We can achieve more today than every possible with disruptive innovations dynamically and constantly altering everything – we have the momentum, as generation Y, to be ‘successful’. But why does that feel more like a burden than a golden opportunity? Well, what is success?
Is it to earn titles by climbing to the top of the corporate ladder? Is it to get global recognition and fame? Is it measured by the amount of zeros in your bank account? No, success cannot be such a simple thing. Because if it was, what minuscule percentage of people would actually be successful? And what are the rest of us here for? To bow at their feet and slowly rot away, humoring ourselves on delusions of meaning?
The connotations behind the word, as described above, are very quantitative and seen as something that can be summed into concrete definitions. When in fact, my argument is that it is extremely subjective and personal to the individual. One person can be completely satisfied and happy accomplishing the establishment of a family, having people around that love them. But for those of us who need greater meaning in life, who hunger for that abstract idea of ‘more’, the dreamers who never stop taking life to its fullest potentials… unsatisfied with mundanely pass through societal institutions (student, university student, office worker, wife, mother) and rot away, it’s simply not enough. Everyone wants to stand out, be unique, and perhaps in this way, we are all the same.
People do have varying degrees of ambitions, but another factor is the skills and courage to execute. To not only think, “Hm, I hope I’m successful…” but to realize your special skill – set and open yourself up to every possible learning opportunity by actively pursuing it full speed, is necessary in feeling that fulfillment you crave. As with anything, to take full advantage of everything you have (especially the infinite opportunities available to Western society) at the present moment – to realize what that is and go after it constantly is being success oriented. Taking those loans to get that degree, applying to jobs way above your pay grade, flying off to culturally different lands, entering prestigious contests, meeting people who provide new perspectives, posting accomplishments on the internet, starting that new business, aiding a charitable cause… Do it all. Why are you hesitating? Most of the associated risks are only that you are putting yourself out there with the possibility of disappointment. So don’t expect anything. Just try, try, and try again. Then make yourself better. And then try once more. Absorb the world – the varying differences in opinions, knowledge, and skill – then make it your own. With freedom, comes so many possibilities, and why would you take that for granted?
Often, many get caught up in necessity – they do what they feel they have to, not what they truly want to. Those who wear ‘golden handcuffs’ are restricted by very real world responsibilities to pay bills and provide food to their families. If you are happy doing this, carry on, your meaning in life could very well lie in your satisfaction providing for loved ones… and that’s plenty. If you’re not, take it as a learning experience, learn what you’re not cut out for and slowly plan your escape. No one is sitting on a moral high ground or better than someone just because they are lucky enough to do something they love. But it is important to always be doing something that is purposeful to YOU. Be a waitress, save money to one day go to University. Do that corporate 9-5, but continue painting and posting your artwork to potential audiences and curators online. Take care of your children at home, but scout job postings, refine your resume and scheme your return to focusing on your career. I truly want to believe that anyone, in our modern society, can do it if they want to.
Personally? One day, I want my opinions to be heard and respected. I want my creativity to bring about self-fulfillment. I want to earn enough money to see the world. I want to help my family accomplish their dreams. I want to love the people in my life with everything I have.
To sum it up – success is realizing the opportunities and what you are, then taking it to its fullest potential at any point in time and then always continually to do so in a manner that is meaningful to YOU.