“Why do you want to be successful?”
We were asked this during a (sponsored) discussion today, and the replies were what people would expect. To attain my life goals; to have a happy family; to give myself a sense of pride. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with those answers, but I immediately realised I have no interest in chasing success.
I mentioned that success is defined by two things, which is aptly supported across three dictionaries. 1) Achievement of personal goals and more importantly 2) Receiving recognition for said achievements
suc·cess noun \sək-ˈses\
: the fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame
: the correct or desired result of an attempt
[MASS NOUN]1. The accomplishment of an aim or purpose- 1.1. The attainment of fame, wealth, or social status
Not that my answer getting brushed off matters anyway, but I do start to wonder what is it that makes us all want to be successful, be it in our or society’s eyes? They claimed the answer was to make people around us happy, skeptically, over any personal benefit. My thought is that success leads to money, which buys us the opportunity to make people around us happy. Success alone does not make people around us happy, even if they feel happy for us.
I agree with the making people happy part. I have always believed in doing things for others jusdt to see them happy, even if that beautiful smile on them lasts barely a minute, simply because I can’t feel happy doing things for myself. I have never felt much sense of achievement despite success – my proudest personal moment thus far was commissioning from OCS, yet it felt empty because I couldn’t share the joy as I would have liked.
What I can’t agree, is how they disregard the second definition of success I offered. A word of measurement, in this case success, is a social construct. Society defines what success is, the word itself is meaningless on one’s perspective. I gave the example of a myself playing soccer – no matter how successful I think I am at my level, I wouldn’t be considered successful in others’ eyes until I hit a certain standard, say being in the school team. Simply put, for all the definitions offered by people, one wouldn’t think of a happy beggar with a family as successful.
I do not want to be successful not because I lack ambition, but because I have grown disillusioned with chasing success. It never ends really, achieving goals only leads to the creation of more goals vertically, rather than horizontally. I want to stop seeing the need for recognition in things I do, because success perpetuates society’s perception of the desired route in life. It’s crazy here, how success as a teenager means getting straight As, into branded schools, a perfect GPA, then a high-flying career. This is how success in Singapore is seen from society’s eyes, and I do not want to be any part of that. I had good grades before, but that did not make me any happier than I was. It’s lonely at the top, and I rather help someone else to the top and be successful, if that what makes them happy. Being successful means you are seen as a model for people to follow, when people should choose their own paths in life instead.
Success, to me, is not important in life. What is important living true to one’s values, one’s faith. I believe happiness is being encompassed by what we believe in, where we actually feel complete and in line with our life goals and views. That no matter what society pressures us to feel, we are at peace with ourselves for the things we do. This would give happiness far more empowering than what success brings.
I do not want to be successful because neither would the chase nor attainment of goals bring me happiness. I do not want to be successful to perpetuate society’s guide to life. I do not want to be successful to limit myself from being happy.
I am learning how to be happy without being successful.
Ironically, if I do make the above happen, that would make me successful doesn’t it?
P.S: I’ll leave a quote from what many would consider definitely a successful person:
Stirve not to be of success, but of value