What is the definition of success, and who defines what success is? This is a question I have struggled with for a long time and the answer has always been unclear. According to Merriam-Webster, success is:

  • obsolete : outcome, result
  • a : degree or measure of succeeding b : favorable or desired outcome; also : the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence

3 : one that succeeds

Everyone says that they want to “succeed” but what does it really mean to succeed? I often define success by things that are completely out of my control and I have begun to ask myself why that is. Success has nothing to do with our family and friends or our social status. We spend so much time trying to succeed for OTHERS, instead of for OURSELVES. Whether it be a parent, or a rival, or a good friend, it seems that we are constantly competing to outdo each other, or prove to others that we can be, will be, or already are “successful.” My success should be for me, not for anyone else.

The past week I went to go visit my home school that I attended my freshman year of high school (I transferred out my sophomore year). I woke up super early that morning to shower and do my hair and makeup so that I would look nice just to go eat lunch with my brothers. But deep down I know that I was not dressing up for the right reasons. I wasn’t trying to look nice for me, but look nice for them. I felt the need to prove myself to people freshman year, and I still feel that need to this day. I have worked on myself a lot since freshman year, and I am not nearly as insecure as I once was, but it does not take away from the fact that I STILL subconsciously felt the need to impress these people who I did not even know. I got into my own head so much that I realized I no longer knew what success means to me.

For me, success comes from family and happiness and dedication. It is not about making it big on Broadway, owning a nice house, or having lots of fame and power. Ultimately, I just want to be happy with myself and with what I have done with my life. I will never look back on my life and think “I really wish I would have made more money and been more famous…” I will look back on my life and wish that I had spent less time worrying about what others thought of me and more time focusing on what I can do to better myself. People always ask me what I want to do with my life and I feel the sudden need to impress them with grand plans of New York and star-studded glory, but I know that isn’t what I really want for myself. I have had to accept the fact that it is okay to tell people “I don’t know.” I don’t know what I am going to do with my life yet. All I know is that it is time for me to stop trying to impress others and work hard to accomplish MY goals.

Success for me may not be what you consider success to be. Success is defined by YOU. I think we all struggle to some extent with separating what we want from what other people want for us. I have seen too many situations where kids my age felt pressured into doing something that someone else wanted for them to do. Maybe your mom has always wanted for you to be a doctor and your dad wants you to have a big family. Your success is not defined by anyone else’s wishes for you. What do you want? We have to learn how to achieve our own dreams, instead of living out someone else’s. That is the definition of success in my book. What is success to you?


"You don't have to be a genius or a visionary or even a college graduate to be successful. You just need a framework and a dream." ~ Michael Dell