Is Our View of Success Wrong?

Finish high school, graduate college, obtain a career. If you do not do these things you are not considered successful by most people in our society. Is it fair for us to judge success based off societal views? Can one actually have the power, knowledge, experience to deem someone unsuccessful?

Success is something we have tried to gauge since the beginning of time. The most successful leaders were those who made the history books, won the most critical wars, made the most crucial decisions. The most successful scientists are those that have named various reactions, catalysts, etc after themselves. The greatest writers are the ones who make the NY times best sellers list. The most successful musical artists are the ones we hear on the radio day in and day out. America’s image of success often manifests itself as the hardworking, self-made business man. Is this really what success is?

If so, I’ll take being a failure over being successful any day. A failure doesn’t always have a lot of money, a failure has never garnered any popularity, and a failure stands in the shadows of those who have been deemed most successful by his society. A failure is misunderstood.

You see, to be successful means following the pack, never questioning society on our way to superficial respect. To be successful, you must give up your most coveted dreams, desires, and goals to acquire worthless slips of paper. In the meantime, the failure follows his own path, makes his own decisions, and never once considers leaving his dreams behind. A failure realizes what is important to him, he hugs his family and friends close, cares solely about making the most out of each day, making a difference, and doing what he loves to do. The success slaves away and does what he is told in order to not stray too far from the herd of inside- the- box thinkers we call “society”.

Ralph Waldo Emerson left society behind after graduating from college to live in a cabin and follow his passion of transcendentalist writing. Ralph Waldo Emerson was considered a failure. Malcolm X didn’t like the way society was structured, and made sure he would be the one to change it. Malcolm X was considered a failure. Galileo discovered many untold secrets of our universe, and was chastised for it. Galileo, during his time, was a failure.

The successful business man regrets not pursuing his true passion, art. Another wishes she could have actually stuck with her ability to write beautiful stories. Many others also wish they would’ve stuck with what they love to do. But this does not bring them the societal success they are told they need.
The artist is happy that he gets to pursue his love of painting. The writer is thrilled that she can do what she has always dreamnt of doing. They are not rich, they are not popular, but ask them if they are failures and they will surely laugh and say “A failure? Ha, a failure is one who does not chase his dreams, and instead succumbs to the pressure of society to be, what is in their view, ‘successful.’ ”

The road to success is an illusion. There is no road to success. Success is simply internal and different from person to person. This mirage that we call success is a trap, don’t fall for it. Stick to what makes you happy and you will find what you are looking for. It may not involve money, it may not involve respect, and it may not involve popularity. You may be called a failure, you may be called a loser, you may be considered to some, a sorry case of misguidance. Just remember, the greatest people to live on this Earth were at one time a failure. What made them so great was their persistence in following their dreams and accomplishing their goals. Your success story is whatever you want it to be, it is not measured, it is not categorized, and it is certainly not definitive. Search for what makes you happy, be misunderstood, and stand out. Because as Ralph Waldo Emerson put it- “To be great, is to be misunderstood”.



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