Coming from a student in her third year of college, the word “success” brings both anxiety and dreams of the grand day where Ramen Noodles are no longer on the grocery list. As I’m entering my early twenties, I realize how hounded our generation is to be successful, to reach success, to “make it” for lack of a better term. And while all of these things are essentially the whole purpose of going to school and applying for internships, I have gone over and over in my head about what I think success really means. Now ask yourself, what is success? To be honest, there have been several times where I have defined success from a materialistic stand point. However, after seeing those who have it all, I would be lying yet again if I didn’t share the fact that I feel sorry for those that aren’t satisfied with exactly where they are. This brings me to an entirely different question; are you defining success according to your assets? Bank account? Brand of clothing? Admit it, part of us wants to. I’ll admit again that I have dreamed of that brand new car, designer bag, and penthouse hotel suite that overlooks Manhattan, but if I’m defining my success through all of these useless things, have I really achieved anything at all?
After much talk of resumes, internships, career fairs, cover letters, and the awaited job offer that we all hope to receive before graduation I come to think of success in an entirely different manner. Being successful isn’t about that beautiful office on the top floor. It isn’t about buying that dream vacation house and it definitely isn’t about the price tag on your clothes. I think those that have truly achieved success wake up everyday happy with exactly where they are in life. Those who have truly achieved success see their everyday occupation as something so much more than receiving a paycheck a few times a month. Those who have achieved their utmost level of potential are those that can look in the mirror and be proud of the reflection.
One of my favorite actresses, the beautiful Cameron Diaz spoke about this idea of success. Keep in mind, this woman is worth 140 million dollars and has starred in several award-winning films, yet she says that her fame does not define her. She goes on to say that when she is around those that she cares about, she is Cameron. She also claims that if we keep reaching for a certain level of fame and a certain level of success then we will never truly be happy. To hear this from such a widely known and successful actress of my time was incredibly humbling. For someone who has achieved such success in her acting career only for her to say that being authentic is the most important leads me to believe that that is where our success truly lies. So I challenge you to reflect on how you define your own success and think about what that truly means to you. If you are in the workforce, are you successful because you have reached a certain net worth? Or are you successful because of how those see you at home? To those in college and wondering what their future holds, how are you going to define your success? I encourage you to be authentic, I encourage you to be kind, and most of all, I encourage you to see yourself as successful not for what you have, but for who you are.