What’s your definition of success?

Christine Burroni

Starting at a very young age, the standard of success is preached to us by our parents, teachers and even the media: Graduate high school, go to college, get a stable job, get married, and have kids. Right?

As life goes on, this standard slowly deviates according to the lives we live. With that said, the question arises: How do we measure success and what does it mean to be successful?

In grammar school and high school, getting “student of the month,” making honor roll, being a star soccer player, and getting any other prestigious award meant success. Throughout high school, we’re taught to be the best we can be, to be determined and to even strive for perfection, leaving no room for error.

However, throughout these years, we adapt to our own abilities and skills. We get used to what we can and cannot do and we tend to stay within that medium. Is the person who is content with his or her life successful? Is when we’re content with our lives the point where we can we stop trying to be perfect?

There are the overachievers, the people that just get by, and then the, dare I say, underachievers.

On a college campus, the overachievers are the people on the Dean’s List, involved in at least three organizations and friends with everyone. They have a lot of connections, and in general, have a lot going for them. More power to them, right?

The “people that just get by” have decent grades, are maybe involved with one or two organizations and have their group of friends, maybe venturing out once in a while.

The underachievers, a term which is pretty self-explanatory, consider their grades to be negligible and only leave their dorm room to eat and party. They also have a few friends and acquaintances.

These stereotypes prove to be true for the most part. I’m positive when thinking of your friends and people you know, you can place at least one person in each category.

I’ve learned through many experiences including the college-search process and getting through my freshman year that only you can set yourself up for success. How well you perform academically or socially, ultimately predicts your future.

Individually, our lives can lead us in many directions – successful or not. Depending on our drive or our level of content, we may or may not consider ourselves successful. There are people whose grades are always high, or whose lives are always perfect. On the other hand, there are people that have average grades, or a job that allows them to just get by.  But in either case it’s possible for these people to be living happy lives and ultimately considering themselves to be successful.

Is that the answer? Is success measured by how content we are with our lives? Or vice versa? What comes first: success or happiness?

This brings us back to the beginning. Are we trained to do our best and strive for perfection so we can be happy? Considering that what you do now can predict your life later on, maybe it’s a good thing that we were taught to be “perfect” at such a young age, so we will ultimately be happy.

Depending on your viewpoint, happiness and success can be considered very similar or very different. There are people who slave away at their desk at school or in a career with a great GPA or salary but are never happy. On the contrary, there are people who are always happy, taking school work or careers with a grain of salt, making their happiness a priority.

I believe that making your happiness and quality of life a priority ultimately leads to a better life, but it is not equivalent to being lazy, or ignorant about your schoolwork. It is indeed possible to be happy and successful, it just takes a lot of work to get to that level.

Consider this within the last five weeks of school, when the weather should be gorgeous and when all we want to do is be on the Quad (happiness), we should really be concentrated on getting through these weeks filled with papers and finals (success).

Although happiness and success aren’t dependent on each other, they are definitely associated. So who says you can’t have both? It’s definitely possible.