As a college student, on some days I swear I’m one step away from successful (cue Ariana Grande), and there come days in which with every step I take, I hear the word “failure” ringing in my ears. Everyone strives for success, but we all have different definitions for it. While some think success involves this one over-arching goal down the road, others think it involves successes at every step of life.
So how do I define my version of success? Am I even doing it right? Let me try to break it down.
At the beginning of my first semester in college, my idea of success turned out completely different from what I see it as now. I remember endlessly looking up different publishing houses in New York City to intern at before graduating. I had high hopes of making it big and finally making tons of money. In short, at the beginning of my college career, I dreamt of achieving success by considering myself pretty much one-in-a-million. As I spent time dreaming though, I lived in constant fear.
What if I didn’t make it to NYC? What if I never found people to support me away from home? I spent more time worrying about my possible future lives, than working towards success. Thankfully, talking to the people in my life, I discovered that while having big goals can lead you to big places, I can find much more fulfillment in attainable goals. I’ve come to understand that my idea of success doesn’t stress the tangible aspect of independence and making money.
Instead, it focuses on filling myself with positivity and overall just bettering myself as a person.
My definition of success now involves a better quality of life and overall emotional satisfaction when it comes to my choices and beliefs in and after college. As I made mistakes and failed on far too many occasions in college, I became more appreciative of the small successes I have every day that will help me in the long run. For example, the victory of managing to keep my apartment clean will hopefully remain a habit in my daily life. And making small but important steps like registering for the GRE, studying for certification exams and talking to counselors and professors about my next steps might move me closer towards the career I have my heart set on: teaching. These tasks all seem fairly simple but instead of putting them off and feeling like a failure, I obsess about them, get them done and succeed.
Another aspect of my definition of success involves how much effort I am dedicating to the things in my life. Dedicating hard work and time to projects stands as one of the ways that help me feel absolutely content with how I am carrying myself in life.
With this in mind, I think I am on the road towards success in college.
The activities I make time for, for the most part, carry meaning. From volunteering at a middle school to writing for College Magazine (woah… inception), what I do outside of class without a doubt fulfills me and requires effort, which fits my markers for success. I find more meaning in having people relate to my writing or in having students grasp a difficult concept than when I do well on an exam or finish a lengthy paper.
Despite this, however, staying on top of things makes it possible for me to have time for the activities that define my success. As the occasional victim of extreme procrastination, I know that my best work always comes when I work hard on something and not necessarily when I do it under pressure. I learned this through years of switching between writing papers the night before or outlining them a week in advance.
My success focuses on effort and feeling satisfied with my decisions, and I’m only part of the way there. I feel successful in my day to day schedule of classes, extracurriculars and work, but everyone’s life has more than just that. Friendships, family relationships, among other things act as other pieces to the success puzzle. I have a long way to go in some of those missing pieces, but good news: we all have time to grow.