Everyone has different ideas about what it means to be successful.
At first that sounds obvious, but when you really consider it, perhaps it isn’t as obvious as we think. Because there’s my idea of successful, and then there’s society’s idea of successful.
I’m sure that many people never even really stop to think about whether what they call success is different from what society calls success. You are successful in the eyes of the world when you’ve completed a certain checklist: Education. Job. Marriage. Home. Children. And that’s it, really. Those things mean that you are a successful, productive member of society. But is that your idea of success? Are those the things you want?
For plenty of people, the answer is ‘yes’. And that’s wonderful. I think there’s a certain belief sometimes among less traditional folks that just because you want those things, you’ve somehow been brainwashed. Or you only want that because you’ve never really thought about it or asked any questions. Are some people in that boat? Yes. But if you know what will make you happy and what will make you feel successful, then it doesn’t matter if everyone else in the world is doing it or if no one is doing it.
But the people who are nay-sayers to that traditional idea of success aren’t wrong, either. Because that is not success to them, it’s conformity. And conformity leads to desperate housewives and cheating husband and all of those other things that authors write about because (for them) suburbia and a normal life are more nightmare than dream. There’s a reason so many stories paint tragic pictures of suburban life. It’s because the writers of those stories don’t want suburban life. It doesn’t mean that everyone is suburbia is actually miserable.
For some, success means something entirely different. They still have a checklist, it’s just one not as recognized by society. Maybe success, to you, is traveling the world working odd jobs to keep money in your pocket. Maybe it’s publishing a novel, and skipping the whole ‘family’ thing. Maybe it’s sewing period costumes and selling them at renaissance festivals. It could be anything at all.
I suppose the point is simply that just because someone’s idea of success is different than yours, that does not mean they’re wrong. It doesn’t mean they are some mindless drone doing whatever society tells them, and it doesn’t mean they’re some whacked-out hippie who will never amount to anything.
You can’ be happy achieving anyone else’s version of success but your own.