There is this relentless need to quantify success. It is so deeply ingrained in our culture that we are blind to its obviously blatant reach. If you just graduated from an Ivy League university, obviously, and have not backpacked across an obscure third world country, fixing the lives of the lesser, in order to prep for that post grad education, then you are unsuccessful. If you are over the age of 25 and are not settled into a career, engaged to someone of the opposite sex and have just finished putting on that last coat of white paint on your picket fence out front, then boy are you doing something wrong. If you are turning thirty and don’t have that huge, expensive, could have bought you a car rock on your left ring finger as you blowout those 30 sparkling reminders of your failure, then the world casts a harsh judgmental shadow on you. You are singled out, ostracized and pitied. And all for what?
A false notion that holds about as much water as my mother’s stainless steel colander.
This definition of success, housed by us in our collective psyches, needs to be abolished. We talk about this ever present glass ceiling, but in my opinion, it's time that we start discussing the brick wall. This big, ugly, overshadowing, brick wall that separates those who, in the eyes of society, have succeeded, and those who have failed to meet a systematically constructed idea of success. This pressure to reach that mountain peak so that you can plant your flag alongside all the successful, pat on the back, greats, needs to be eased, ebbed, and erased before it pulls us, as a society, into a void that we cannot escape.
When I see my peers, who are some of the most brilliant, ambitious, headstrong people I have the ultimate pleasure of knowing, get trampled by the overbearing foot of success, my heart shatters for them. It is in that moment that I believe we have failed as a society. I know firsthand what that unhealthy level of pressure to be successful can do to even the strongest of people. I have felt the unnerving feeling of the world slip away from underneath you as you stand in a circle of your peers, who have been granted front row seats to watch you fall to your untimely demise. I have felt that hard blow to the ego that comes about when you are completely blindsided by life and success rears its ugly head, grinning ear to ear, as you kiss goodbye a future you thought was so certain. I have walked calmly out of a room, smile plastered on my face, fighting against it all, until I am standing alone in a parking lot, holding onto my car for dear life, just so I can cry straight for an hour after failing at something success promised I could win.
Where, before, you felt invincible with the world in front of you, after, you feel disheveled, unsure of yourself and lost. Afraid that you simply will not be able to reach and attain that Holy Grail we all call success.
Enough is enough.
I am denouncing success.
My ideologically constructed sense of success no longer relies on what you, you or you think success should be. My frame of thought no longer holds that perfect picture of success, captured through a lens I no longer feel the need to see through. My success is predicated on one very simple premise – if I can look at myself in the mirror and love what I see, then I’m successful.
Point, blank, period.
That’s all folks.
If I am happy with me and am at peace with myself, I will exude success. It doesn't matter where this mirror is located, if it’s dripping in 24 karat gold or hanging off its last tired hinge, I will always continue to see myself as successful. Because to me, if I can look myself in the eye and still be able to appreciate myself in my unadulterated, most raw form, and still see the essence of me shine through, I've won. Won what? I don’t think any of us really know, but it’s the feeling of being able to walk through life, chin to the sky that is the ultimate trophy.
Now this is not a call for everyone to see success this way; on the contrary, this view of success should be mine, and mine alone. Because it comes from a place deep within myself, it can, and should, really only penetrate that humiliating darkness within me.
Success should differ in us all because where we are coming from is so uniquely beautiful, our past stories a mosaic of hurt, loss, and love, that one universal definition for an end goal is nonsensical. Go forth and find your success, wherever it may be. Embrace your success in whatever form it comes in, even if your success is that white picket fence drying in the cherry blossom wind.
But always remember, the definition of success comes from within you and no external force should ever be able to unhinge that.
No one should tell you that you are unsuccessful because they have not trudged through the ever winding road you have in order to get to the person you are today. There is only one you and therefore there is only one unique definition of success for you to live by.
Love & Light - Inemesit Etokudo