What does success mean to you?
I’d like you to leave this post for now and scroll down to the comment section to type in your answers (if you don’t mind:-)).
Don’t think too much about it, just type the first answer that pops up in your head.
What Success Means to the World
Any dictionary, both online and offline have something in common about “success”: accomplishments, achievement, fulfillment and in modern times; wealth and fame.
This is a very plausible definition of course given that we feel “successful” only when we have accomplished a goal. Success is also met with an adversary which is “failure”– a term we were brought up to fear and despise, which in most cases, is expected to serve as a fuel for us to work hard..
The problem with the way success is portrayed today is that contrary to what is being defined in our dictionaries, it is no longer the fulfillment or accomplishment of one’s personal goals, but rather a measure of how many societal expectations you have met.
A man is “seen” as successful when he is financially buoyant or in some cases, when he has a family of his own.
This particular definition of success though more common in the western world, is established everywhere if not always expected of all of the male gender.
Back in the days, successful men were also judged by other factors such as strength, status, amount of farm lands, animals and number of offsprings (male to be specific).
(The last was very common in African culture when a man’s prowess was judged based on the number of male children he had disregarding the amount of girls he might have as females were not considered as anything more than housewives and kitchen maids- sad but true).
The “Blindspot” in Women Success Simplified.
Its no surprise that a lady or “woman” is considered “successful” only when she has been able to secure herself a “suitor” and is guaranteed that she will not be spending any more than 20-25 years in her father’s house.
This “blindspot” is more common in African culture (at least where I’m from) and it’s no wonder why many women rush into marraiges not minding if it were abusive or toxic just to get the society’s judgemental stares and the not-so-subtle whispers of her “aunties” and “relatives” off her back.
“You’re almost 23, when are we expecting our in-law?”
“Aren’t you a little too old to be looking for a job, you should look for a husband instead so that you can marry and settle into your new home”
“All your friends and cousins even those you’re older than have gotten married, are you waiting for your womb to expire before you do?”
Material possessions doesn’t mean anything for a lady as long as she remains single and some people even go as far as discouraging “ripe” women from having careers and ambitions in order not to “scare” potential suitors away with their “success”.
Although this unseen “pressure” is being neglected by the many ambitious and career-focused women in recent times, it still exists and I’m afraid no amount of civilization can wipe it out.
Most Youths (20-22) start experiencing the (pre-societal “expectation“) of being “independent” much before they even advance into becoming proper “adults”. Of course this wouldn’t apply to every one and I don’t have first hand knowledge of experience of how terrible this “burden” is.
However I can account for the fact that in my country, the average youth is worried or at least concerned about securing a job (or in some cases, rich suitor) years before the majority even graduate college. I can’t say for a fact if this is the fault of the country’s poor system or the “unspoken” yet overwhelmingly silly idea/rule that it’s shameful to still be living with your parents once you clock your mid twenties.
It’s even sadder than many of us conform to this rule rather unknowingly, which is why they are tons of students juggling school work with “side hustles” while the impatient and morally depraved ones resort to shameful means of acquiring wealth and fame due to societal influence and also peer pressure.
The pressure on teens is not very much compared to youths and adults. Most if not all we are expected to do is go to school, study hard, get good grades so that we can secure a bright future and take care of our parents when we are older. The only undeniable issue with this is that it’s not as simple as it sounds and because most adults fail to understand this, coupled with a few other issues like peer pressure, puberty and temporary teenage “obsessions”, it seems as if we are carrying a lot on our shoulders, even though we really aren’t.
(At this point, I just want to state that the above stated may not apply to every teenager out there. Our lives are not all the same and some people though very young, may be going through a lot that’s too much for their tender age. The above is focused merely on the typical average teenager who is privileged enough to only worry about getting good grades at school).
These are just various contexts of what the society expects a “successful” human being to be.
From a religious perspective, we can only be considered successful once we fulfil God’s purpose in our lives which is what leads me to the next suptopic:
The Relativity of success
One of the things I love to tell people is that success is relative meaning it all depends on YOU.
Success isn’t something that’s contextual, it should be relative because what makes you successful might not make me successful and vice versa. Just as we all born different, our purposes are different so we can’t use judge everyone’s achievement based on a set standard.
I use a certain scenario to illustrate:
Two people; one from a poor background and the other from a wealthy one happen to attend the same college or institution. The poor person who may or not may not be juggling his studies with other financial responsibilities is probably more susceptible to getting lower grades than his wealthy counterpart who has all his learning materials and needs served to him on a silver plate.
At the end of the semester, the wealthy person who graduates with a first class will be praised for his brilliance, while the poor man who managed to attain a second class lower despite his divided attention might be ridiculed and even told to “work harder” next time. From an external view, the wealthy man will definitely be termed more successful, but only someone who knows the inside struggles of each individual will truly access the amount of success each achieved from their starting point.
Another example is two people on a weight loss journey. One goes from 150 pounds to 125 in only two months, while the other goes from above 200 to 170 in that same time frame. It would be easy to judge the latter as “less successful” if you didn’t know her starting weight and this is almost quote similar to what most of us pass through.
We’d rather applaud a rich man who inherited his wealth from his ancestors than acknowledge a struggling peasant famer who started from absolute nothing and worked his way up to owing a few plots of land even though his achievement is relatively greater.
In summary, the amount of achievement a man has can only be accurately estimated if we know when and where they started and because most times we don’t know, there’s only one thing;
DON’T JUDGE ANOTHER MAN’S SUCCESS.
We need to Stop Belittling other professions
When you look up “successful people” on the internet, you get flooded with images of Business men, Tech moguls, doctors, Lawyers, real estate owners, people of royalty, politicians, celebrities and every other “big” occupations you could think of.
Not that I’m saying they’re bad, but what about other professions?
What about the farmers who produce the food we eat, the taxi drivers and chauffeur who take us where we need to be, what about teachers and school workers who train our children? What about factory workers whose jobs though very belittled, are the backbone of all the products we use today? What about cleaners, newspaper vendors, grocery shop workers and street sellers?
Do they not fall under “successful people”? Are their lines of works being ignored simply because they don’t have an estimated amount of millions in their net worth? We spend so much time looking up to these “renowned personalities” that we forget to appreciate these other little occupations whose services we depend on to get through everyday all because we have been tricked into believing than wealth and fame IS success while it really isn’t.
Happiness is success.
It’s becoming increasingly difficult to find true happiness in a world where the criteria for being happy have been forcefully dictated into something not everyone can meet. The society will make you feel like you have to have a lot of money to be happy, everyone makes it seem as if having absolutely everything you want is what makes a happy person and the fact that many people look at celebrities as people with “perfect” lives deceives the younger generation into thinking that fame and popularity will guarantee you a life of happiness.
“When you’re successful you’ll be happy” they preach, but I’m here to tell you today that it is rather “when you’re happy that you’re successful”
Check out : Five Steps to Become Happy
I’ll like to end this with a quote:
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Stay Safe, Stay Happy.