What does it mean to be successful in your eyes? Take a minute, pause from reading this article, and think.
The truth is, success is in the eye of the beholder. What could be deemed as success to one person, could be considered a failure to another. Ever since I was a little girl, my parents and relatives all taught me from example that in order to be successful, it was necessary to go to a University and get a four-year college degree. I truly grew up not knowing any different.
You go to high school, make some good friends, maybe play a few sports, and when senior year rolls around you apply to colleges like a mad woman. When you get into college, you join greek life, put your sorority/fraternity letters in your Instagram bio and post 100 pictures so that everyone knows you are thriving and having the time of your life. That is what society wants us to do. We form society to fit in and blend in with everyone around us. I am not saying there is anything wrong with that, but personally, I do feel that it does seem a little artificial to me.
Society puts such an emphasis on my generation that in order to succeed, you need a degree from a University. The more education and challenges of a degree you have the better. Without a four year degree, you are considered less successful than those who do not, regardless of the fact that some people out there never even had the option or opportunity to go to college.
I can promise you, I was NOT the smartest in high school, and I still struggle plenty in college. There are thousands of other people out there who deserve to be in my shoes getting a degree, rather than myself. Some of the best and most motivated people I know did not go to college because they did not have good enough grades to get a scholarship, did not want to be in thousands of dollars of debt, or because they had to stay back at home and help their parents.
Now that I am a junior in college and have had plenty of time to reflect, I realized that a four-year degree is not what success means to me. Sure it opens plenty of doors and helps me to be more marketable for jobs once I graduate, but if I could do it all over and take a step back, I am not too sure if I would have ever gone to college, to begin with.
I came to college because I thought it was my only option after high school. I thought it was the only way to properly grow as an individual and become successful in my generation. Do not get me wrong, I am so thankful and appreciative for the opportunity I have to be able to learn and ultimately have a degree, but a big part of me knows that I was actually not ready to start my journey right after high school at a University.
Perhaps later down the road on my own merit, I would have liked to have challenged myself and get a degree. Not because of the fact that society was telling me it was what I needed to do to be successful, but because it was something I actually wanted to do to better myself.
Success to me is the day I finally find a feeling of inner peace and happiness with where I am in life. It does not matter what I am doing or where I am, as long as I know I am helping other people and know that I am making a difference in someone's life for the better. I know I do not need a four-year degree in order to do that- but here I am.
If society in my generation today was different, I think a lot of people that are in college would actually not be here now. So many people graduate and can not find jobs with their degree, are in thousands of dollars of debt, and are struggling to make ends meet. It is important to know that there are other reliable options out there.
It is time we really reflect and ask ourselves what we truly want personally to better ourselves and what it means to be successful in our own eyes. Society should not be allowed to answer that question for any of us from here on out.