Communication,  Lifestyle

Defining Success

The great poet, Teremaine Neverson once said, “I just wanna be successful” He along with his colleague Aubrey Grahm proceeded to speak about all the things that would define their success like: money, cars, clothes, and women. While this may seem like the definition of success for some, for others like myself, that’s not quite it. And that’s ok.

The Situation

Welcome to 2019 where everything you’ve done in the last decade or 2 has been posted on the internet. From weddings to pregnancy announcements to homes bought, people love sharing their lives online. What’s even more interesting is that people enjoy knowing the ins and out of other people’s lives.

Reality television has taken over television and the internet as people let the world get a glimpse of their lives and lifestyle. The Kardashians are a household name because of their hit show Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Women and men compete to be on shows like Celebrity Big Brother, the Bachelor and the Bachelorette. And don’t get my started on The Real World and Jersey Shore.

Shows like this produce fame and sometimes fortune. With the fame, comes a level of influence and this is where I’d like to hang out for a while. This level of “success” comes with popularity, followers on social media, brand deals, promotions, commercials, businesses, money, cars, clothes, and loads of attention. But is this the definition of success?

I recently turned 25 and am personally going through what many have called, the quarter life crisis. I’m in the age group where I have been out of school for a few years, but I have not achieved what my grandparents or even my parents did at my age.

I am engaged, not married. I have no children. I am still paying on a vehicle. I have little savings, and I rent an apartment. Like many other 25 year olds, I thought that my life would be different by now, but the reality that has set in caused me to look at the word success and the things I have attached to it.

The Problem

When I was young and in school, I was told that if I got good grades, that was success. I would grow up to be successful because I made good grades. When I played sports, I wanted to be the best so I could become successful. Success was always attached to things like a good job or money. But is that was success really is?

The first definition of success on google reads “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.” To me this means, if you set a goal and accomplish that goal, you are successful. No matter the goal. This is the part that is interesting to me. What if my goals or standards of achievement are low? If I attain them, by definition, I am successful.

The problem is that the word success has taken a connotation that supersedes the actual definition. In some people’s eyes you’re not successful until you reach a certain level of success. It’s not enough to graduate high school, you need a college degree. It doesn’t matter that you rent an apartment on your own, you need to buy a house. Oh you have a cell phone? Your not successful because it’s 3 years old.

This thought pattern is the problem. It’s created a culture that overspends and over stretches itself to obtain things that don’t bring joy or happiness, but only the illusion of success. Even still others don’t equate things to success unless the world knows of its existence. This practice further perpetuates the stereotype and the cycle continues.

The world and society have conditioned our minds as millennials to want large things and an abundance of things. We want the big house with the nice yard and the fancy car and the newest gadgets. We want to post them on social media to let everyone know about our shiny new things to prove that we are successful.

We go to school and complain about it online. We get decent jobs and complain about those online. We post our cars, clothes, accomplishments and lives online and it creates the appearance of  a certain level “success”.

Let’s go another way. Some people share things about the people they know. They talk about their connections. They share things about the concerts they go to or the people they love or are involved with. They go on several vacations or to several shows or music festivals or events a year. They have social success or have achieved a level in life that others see them as successful.

This idea doesn’t exist only for things, but it exists for people, relationships, economic position, etc. This problem needs to be addressed, which is why I’m opening a line of dialogue to discuss and realign the idea of success.

The Solution

The solution is trickled throughout my thoughts above. We have to re-define and show the different values and levels of success. I know several small business owners who are successful. They don’t make a lot of money, but they make an honest living and are comfortable. They are not worried about buying large fancy things, they only want to spend some time with family.

Once we re-define what success means we have to believe it and then show it. Believe that working a job you are proud of makes you successful regardless of how much you make. Believe that playing on a community league and doing your best, makes you successful even though you’re not pro level. Believe that going to one show or meeting one person makes you successful.

Once these barriers are broken, you are free to define success for yourself. You are no longer a slave to societies rules or expectations of you. If you want to reach for the moon and the stars, then by all means, fly high. But if your goals are lower that’s fine too. You can be a part of the middle class, live comfortably and still be considered successful.

Going Forward

In my own life, I’m redefining success. I’m starting to not compare myself to others based on money or housing or family status. I’m looking internally to the things and people that make me happy. I’m realizing that owning certain things or making a certain amount of money don’t make you successful. Success is defined by the parameters you give it.

I am lowering my parameters. Not because I don’t believe I can’t attain high goals, but because they don’t make me happy or bring me joy. Those things I have found, and by my personal definition, I am successful.

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