‘success’ should be defined by individuals

By Gus Bode

Have you ever been the dumb one? In every group there’s a dumb one and if it’s not the other people, then, surprise, it’s you. I found myself in this position on Wednesday. Next to me set an aspiring medical school student who had applications in the works for several great med schools and across from me sat a 3.9 junior in psychology hoping to attend Arizona State for grad school. When it was my turn to share my secret “road to success plan” I just sat contemplating.

How do you define “success”? High school guidance counselors, teachers and parents tell us to go to college so that we can become successful. But what do they mean by “successful.” To parents “success” might mean being able to fully provide for one’s self. This may include not grocery shopping in the family’s refrigerator every time you return from college, or not bringing your 12 loads of laundry to avoid the heinous laundromats discussed last week. Success can mean so many different things.

Some may think they have only reached success once they’ve made the last installation payment on their dream car. Or some may judge success by other material possessions. This could be the perfect suburban home with the greenest lawn-envy of the neighborhood (Hank Hill). This could be the full collection of expensive abstract art they don’t understand themselves or an invitation to the local country club for 18 holes. Success may even be thought of as finding the perfect husband or wife; you know, the Brady Bunch type.


I’ve been thinking a lot about success. I’m not getting any younger (I’m still incredibly good looking, don’t get me wrong) and every day it seems someone asks me what I’m going to do with my life. For a long time everyone around me seemed to be on the road headed straight for “success.” Did I miss the exit or something? Where was I, at a rest stop making a bathroom break? Three Gatorades in will do that to you; there should be a surgeon general warning on the side of those things. People seem to be reaching their destination as I’m still holding the road atlas upside down.

Success never was a dollar sign to me. I can see myself being one of those secret rich people that live a modest middle-class life. You’d never know I was rich. What would I do to all of the money? I don’t know, maybe I’d send some food to all of those starving children I see on TV. I don’t want to leave a large sum of money to any future children I may have. This may seem harsh, cruel or even really dumb, but I wouldn’t want my children to be handed everything on a silver platter. I would want my children the chance to experience being self-made, like myself, hopefully.

The next time someone asks me what I’m going to do with my life I’ll just tell them, ” I’m just going to live it day by day, enjoying the small pleasures that come along. I will appreciate the sunsets as the sky seems to melt into itself with color. I will stop to help the poor or listen to an elder, respecting that with age comes wisdom. I will let a child tell me something stupid or ridiculous that either I don’t understand or already know. I will be tolerant of others, remember that hate consumes our hearts and makes us hateful people, and laugh at jokes I’ve already heard. And I will allow myself to love and be loved when and only when the time is right.”

I decided “success” means accomplishing self-made goals no matter what they might be. Good luck with yours; I hope someday I can fulfill mine.

Oh and if you’re wondering how I’m going to fund my life – I’ll just live off of sunshine.

Shanita is a junior in journalism. If I May appears every Friday. These views do not necessarily reflect those of the DAILY EGYPTIAN.