Alumni weekend has finished, and the past graduates are now making their way back home. They have returned to their current places of residence, no doubt with nostalgia filling their hearts as they reflect upon the past few months, years, or decades since they walked the line and received their diplomas. I’ve heard many discuss the differences between what they expected to come following graduation and what actually came, whether in their careers, families or both. Some of the ones with exceptionally noteworthy achievements have received awards and applause, recognition of opportunities seized and choices well made.
And now, we the current students are left to our mid-term responsibilities of studying, writing, drinking coffee, and more studying. We are left to our wonderings of how the future will actually turn out, which dreams will come to fruition in our own lives and which will remain for someone else to achieve. We wonder how our passions will take shape, and if the doors we hope will open will indeed be unlocked for us. We hope the work we’re doing now is indeed equipping us for the work we hope to do then, and the people we are now will have the wisdom to become the people we want to be then.
At least, that’s what alumni week has caused me to wonder. As I grow closer to graduation, I increasingly find myself scrambling for a goal, for motivation to finish well. That searching has lead me to reflect upon questions of what defines success.
Am I successful if I have a high-level position and have a lot of influence in a large company? Am I successful if I get my own company off the ground and support myself? Am I successful if I simply serve others and make their lives better? In that case, am I successful if I serve a lot of people or serve a few people really well? What if serving others well means my career seems to fail in the process? Am I more successful if my career takes off or if my relationships flourish? Is it possible to do both? Am I successful if I have a family and live a simple life with enough food on the table, or would I be missing something? Am I successful if I just do what I like to do and am passionate about? Do I really need to be a world changer or is it okay to make a deep impact on the community around me for good? Does farther reach really indicate a more impactful life?
And so the questions continue, and my end career goal is left unarticulated.
I really don’t have a conclusion for today’s post. My mind continues to wonder what defines true success.
And so I turn it back to you, dear reader: What defines success in your own life? What goals are you aiming towards that help determine what you focus on?