Columns, Opinion

Burning Out: What’s a successful person? It’s you and me

I thought the life I always dreamed of would begin when I stepped onto a college campus.

A few years ago, my dream was to go to Boston University. I wanted to write for the school newspaper and be a crazy, cool student journalist.

High-school me would be pretty proud of my current self for achieving all of these things, but at this point in my life, I don’t feel very successful. I have zero internships, mediocre life skills and a spiraling self-esteem.

The pressure to do something with my life is greater than ever, but recently I’ve come to the conclusion that everyone’s definition of success is and always will be completely arbitrary.

Yvonne Tang

I prefer to believe we will never reach a point of “success” in our lives. Success doesn’t come to us in the same way that one could eventually reach a point of enlightenment.

We can’t continue to strive for this abstract concept we will never achieve.

I want to treat myself the way I treat the public figures I admire and strive to emulate — they may be rich and famous, but never for a second have I attributed their success to the moment they became rich and famous.

Billie Eilish could have blown up in popularity at 14 years old or 30. Either way, it wouldn’t change the fact that she’s damn talented in my eyes.

The guy who has to hear me blast her music at a stoplight might think the complete opposite and that she’s a flop. Eilish’s music might sound like nails on a chalkboard to him — this hypothetical man is wrong, of course, but who am I to say?

Who knows if Eilish herself even considers her brand to be successful? Yes, she’s won seven Grammys, but there is always just one more award to win, and there’s more to do in life.

The truth is: Eilish might have felt more aligned with her personal goals before she won any awards. We never know.

The way we interpret success will always be different from the way others do. It can even be different from how the past versions of ourselves perceived it.

Yvonne Tang/DFP STAFF

It’s important to evaluate our personal definitions of success. In this way, we might just realize that we’re already the successful person we have always dreamed of becoming.

To me, an individual’s success is dependent on a feeling of fulfillment.

It doesn’t have to do with money or notoriety or accomplishments.

It doesn’t even have to do with age. I’m certainly not waiting until I’m a senior citizen to feel happy about my life.

So yeah, maybe my Handshake link where I apply for internships is full of “reviewed” and “declined” statuses and I don’t exactly know where I’m going in life.

But ultimately, I think I’m good where I am. This way, I’m already chilling on the Super Mario flagpole that represents success rather than constantly hurdling over obstacles to reach it.


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