Our Society's Definition Of Success

Our Society's Definition Of Success

It's so misguided.
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Since we were little, we have been taught that school is important. We have to stay in school and do well. When we would ask why, we were prompted with the typical answer of “You have to get into college and be successful!” Once in high school, the pressures of getting into college became heightened and much more real. Junior year, we began to take our Scholastic Aptitude Tests and started drafting lists of schools we would apply to in the fall.

Throughout the whole process, everything felt so hectic and there wasn’t much time to take a step back and evaluate why you were doing all this. Sometimes it even felt like we were being pushed into this. We had to do well, because we had to get into college, because we had to get a degree in order to be successful. Without a degree, we wouldn't be able to make money to support ourselves for the rest of our lives.

We’ve been told this for our whole lives, causing our ultimate fear to be “not succeeding.” Thoughts would constantly run through the back of my head, making me worried about getting a job that paid well enough and doing well enough in college to succeed in the “real world.” I was worried about being a disappointment and a failure, and I thought that’s what I would be if I didn’t get into the right college and declare the right major.

All of these are facts that have been ingrained in our heads not only by adults since we were little, but also just by the society and the system we use to function in, in this country especially. It’s pretty much true that if you don’t get a well-paying job you won’t be able to make enough money to be considered “successful” in our society, at least financially. When we talk about people who are successful, that generally comes hand in hand with being very wealthy.

I don’t feel like I can conform easily to this system we live in, and I don’t want my life to be defined by it. I don’t particularly enjoy or thrive in any of the fields that are considered to make good money, and I don’t want to focus my whole life around making enough money anyway. I think it’s unfortunate that the world works in a way that rewards those who are wealthy, since experiences and travel and mostly anything that we want costs a lot. Those that are financially well off can pay for a plane ticket, and those who aren’t, can’t. It’s unfortunate to me that the latter group of people are basically being told by society that they can’t have these things because they are not successful enough to have them, because they don’t have enough money for them. It may not be direct, but that’s the message this system sends.

To me, success is something different. Success is not doing well on a test that was designed to make me fail if I can’t memorize 100 vocabulary words. It’s not getting a job that pays a lot, if that means I’m not happy doing the job. Success to me isn’t making money, ironically, at the cost of pushing aside all the other things I love to do. Working a standard office job and having my family live in a nice area in a nice house is not my definition of success. If I’m not happy with the quality of my life separate from my income, then that is not success.

Success is being a good friend even when you feel like you get nothing in return. It’s being able to reflect and improve yourself as much as possible. It’s being open to learning as much as possible and wanting to broaden your horizons as often as you can. Success, to me, is being a person that contributes something to society, and is a positive addition to our world. It is not defined by a piece of paper proving you graduated or a stack of money in a bank account. It’s defined by your quality of life, your happiness and your effect on the world around you.

So next time you feel obligated to follow the path our society has provided for you, remember to take a step back and evaluate if it’s going to make you successful, in your own eyes. If it’s not a positive contribution to your own quality of life, then it’s not success, even if everyone else is saying that it is.

Cover Image Credit: http://katielendel.com/the-3cs-of-success/

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To The Teacher Who Was So Much More

Thank you for everything
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I think it's fair to say that most people remember at least one teacher who had a lasting impact on them. I have been incredibly lucky to have several teachers who I will never forget, but one individual takes the cake. So here's to you: thank you for all you have done.

Thank you for teaching me lessons not just in the textbook.

Although you taught a great lecture, class was never just limited to the contents of the course. Debates and somewhat heated conversations would arise between classmates over politics and course material, and you always encouraged open discussion. You embraced the idea of always having an opinion, and always making it be heard, because why waste your voice? You taught me to fight for things I believed in, and to hold my ground in an argument. You taught me to always think of others before doing and speaking. You showed me the power of kindness. Thank you for all the important lessons that may not have been included in the curriculum.

Thank you for believing in me.

Especially in my senior year, you believed in me when other teachers didn't. You showed me just what I could accomplish with a positive and strong attitude. Your unwavering support kept me going, especially when I melted into a puddle of tears weekly in your office. You listened to my stupid complaints, understood my overwhelming stress-induced breakdowns, and told me it was going to be okay. Thank you for always being there for me.

Thank you for inspiring me.

You are the epitome of a role model. Not only are you intelligent and respected, but you have a heart of gold and emit beautiful light where ever you go. You showed me that service to others should not be looked at as a chore, but something to enjoy and find yourself in. And I have found myself in giving back to people, thanks to your spark. Thank you for showing me, and so many students, just how incredible one person can be.

Thank you for changing my life.

Without you, I truly would not be where I am today. As cliche as it sounds, you had such a remarkable impact on me and my outlook on life. Just about a year has passed since my graduation, and I'm grateful to still keep in touch. I hope you understand the impact you have made on me, and on so many other students. You are amazing, and I thank you for all you have done.

Cover Image Credit: Amy Aroune

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3 Things i learned at pride in NYC

The people, the flags, and the glitter are even more magical in person.

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On Sunday, June 24th, my girlfriend, my best friend and I, all hopped on a train to the World Trade Center in New York City. After a short subway ride, we arrived at 16th Street, where the parade festivities began. Dressed in our decked out rainbow attire, we entered a vibrant crowd of flag wielding, self-loving having, beautiful people. Pride is something the LGBTQIA+ community knows how to celebrate well. Lesbihonest, I think its safe to say that the LGBTQ+ community essentially created loving yourself, along with embracing those around you, whether you know them or not. While at Pride, I learned a few things about myself, about how to love others, and what it means to be apart of a community.

1. Love thy neighbor

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Because pride is such an important event to the LGBTQIA+ community, the number of people that attend each year is increasing by the thousands. There were an expected 48,000 people this year and when you're amerced in such a large crowd keeping your cool is super important. I learned that in most cases, giving love will result in receiving it, especially in 84-degree weather. So when I was making my way through energetic crowds, I used my p's and q's and was met with the same energy from strangers.

2. At pride, the dress code is no dress code

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If you're in the mood to wear your birthday suit, glitter, or witty t-shirt and celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community as a member or as an ally, pride is the place to be! The extravagant outfits and expression of self-pride through clothes and even lack of clothes made me feel extremely comfortable in my own outfit. I think we all have had our share of being uncomfortable in our skin or clothes, but being around thousands of people dressed in whatever made them most comfortable that day was a beautiful experience.

3. Pride is not solely about the LGBTIA+ community

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Heritage of Pride, the nonprofit organization that organizes New York City's LGBT pride events each year, strives to work towards creating a future that consists of equal rights for all under the law. The march is an annual civil rights demonstration that brings awareness to the fight against aids, the Black Lives Matter movement and memorializes those who have lost their lives to illness, violence and neglect. This year over 450 different organizations participated in the march and about 110 floats were shown, each float bringing awareness to different organizations.

As an Afro-Latina, lesbian, I felt very represented and extremely grateful to participate in a civil rights event such as pride. The opportunity to educate myself and even feel more comfortable in my own skin, and enjoy myself with the people I love most, is something I will truly cherish. Hopefully, my experiences and knowledge will expand next year at the 2019 NYC pride!

Cover Image Credit:

Em Goss

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