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Illustration by Mylena Ebron

What Does Success Really Mean?

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What makes a person successful? What do they do or how do they look? 

Bill Gates, Barack Obama, Beyonce or Cardi B? Ask yourself, are these people successful?  Then, remember your answer.

For many parents, seeing their children make good grades or get into top colleges means success. But not all students define success that way. Maybe your parents have told you college and a good job is the only way of being a successful person, but that’s not true.

The world has two types of people, the ones who are successful and the ones who are trying to be successful. 

During my life up until now in my junior year, I thought success was something visible, something that could be shown off or shared with family such as power or money. I no longer believe in that even though its consistently in media today. 

Success is not tangible or visible, it’s a philosophy, a feeling. A personal purpose should be a goal of yours, no matter how small or large. It’s what makes you feel genuinely proud of yourself regardless of other people’s thoughts or opinions. 

“People have become victims of this system of success and end up doing nothing for themselves but everything for someone else,” says Rachel Mc’Bride , 15, from North Clayton High School.

In an interview with VOX ATL, Clark Atlanta University Professor, motivational speaker and author Dennis P. Kimbro, Ph.D. said he views success as “the progressive realization of a worthy goal or idea and achieving it.” His view of money is all transactional, he doesn’t believe it to be chased without a true goal. “Money without meaning is no purpose,” Kimbro added.

Money should only measure finances, not success or one’s sense of euphoria. Even billionaire and founder of Virgin Group, Richard Branson says that true success should be measured by how happy you are.

When defining success, there is a lack of clarity for different people. 

According to Merriam Webster dictionary, success is “the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence,” so this word is definitely not a one size fits all deal.  

We have made everything in our lives based upon measurements or put into a statistic, a percentage, an amount of something for someone. For example, in schools, it’s decided whether or not you pass to the next grade level by how many credits you’ve earned or what scores you got on your finals. To get into college, you need certain ACT/SAT scores, you need money! So if college is success but money is something you don’t have, does that mean you’ll be unsuccessful?

And the final example all of us face no matter our age is time. How much we have wasted or how much we have left. It guides us through life every day. What time we need to get to work or what time we need to be here and there. Since everything we do has a form of data attached, whether or not we’ve reached the requirement of those statistics determines how “successful” we are, as society would say. 

Remember that question I asked earlier? Think about your answer.

If you believe they were all successful people, there’s no way of truly telling if they are or not. That is because success is not visible or tangible. The only way of knowing is if we were them. You are the only person who knows what you want in life, and when you’ve achieved that goal.

Your success should be determined by yourself and what your goals are. Not what society has labeled success as. 

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