Sunday, November 13, 2011

What is success?

1.   suc·cess/səkˈses/

1.    The accomplishment of an aim or purpose.
2.    The attainment of popularity or profit.


From looking at the life of Andy Rooney, discussing an organization called Inivisible Children, and the growing questions I face about my future, the word success has surfaced in my mind. I’ve been exploring the idea of success: whether it is relative, different with each point of view, and whether it really exists or matters.
 The first idea I concluded on was that I would feel successful if I out-did men and accomplished something as “the first woman”.  I want to be a Marie Curie or a Rosa Parks or an Amelia Earhart because that assumed boundary between the ability of men and women annoys me.
I’m blessed to come from my family of great people.  They are so much of my inspiration. My mom was the eighth woman to get her architecture license in South Carolina. My dad designs food packaging that nations of people can see every day. I hate to say it but sometimes their success could be pressure for me to live up to. But most importantly what they’ve done has given me seemingly endless opportunity.
I can be easily scared by the future. For example, it took me more than a year to embrace the idea of driving a car. A few weeks ago multiple friends told me that I should be a teacher. My first reaction was something like ‘that’s cute but it’s not much of an accomplishment, you know? There are plenty of teachers, I feel like I can do better’. The more I thought about what teachers really do, I realized how difficult teaching would be. Even if I was good with kids, I can’t wrap my head around planning meaningful activities each day that show them how to learn.
Then, after discussing the story of Invisible Children, the idea sparked that maybe striving for some kind of achievement to measure success by is a waste of time when finding a cause to be passionate about will make me happier. If remember correctly (from the movie “Tony”), one of the founders of the organization dropped out of school at age nineteen. Today many people would say schooling= success and I have to agree. But when Laren Poole found his passion in Uganda, he carved his own path and now touches the lives of many in America and Africa.
Only a few hours ago I was listening to a conversation between my dad and his friend about the benefit of traveling on business. Then Mr. Ryan turned to me and asked if I had heard Steve Jobs’ commencement speech at Stanford. They concluded that the best advice they could give me was to find what I love to do and make fun.
After hearing that speech in its entirety, Jobs’ message to stay hungry and stay foolish reminded me of my mother. One time a commercial for the Cooking Channel came on with their motto “Stay hungry”. My mom looked confused and then questioned “Why would they tell me to stay hungry? Shouldn’t we want learn to cook and feed ourselves?”. I think that both were correct, that we should always have a desire to work.

 “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm”   -Winston Churchill

Never losing enthusiasm would definitely be success. On the other hand I hope life isn’t just one long string of failures. Can I categorize something as a failure if I am enthusiastic about it? No one can call me a failure. Maybe a successful life is one long string of enthusiasm.
I want a career that I love. I want to be thoughtful. I want to affect people’s lives. It would be nice to out-do a man. I want to facilitate God’s will.

(Just one more connection!) In an eighth grade language arts project I came up with four maxims for my life. One of them was, “I will hope for the best, let go of the rest, and have faith in the future” from a song called Shadows and Regrets by Yellowcard. Thought I can’t recall the other three, I think I should keep that one in the front of my mind for a while.
picture from Southeastern Louisianna University

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