Determining Your Own Version of Success


Success: An accomplishment of an aim or purpose.

Being successful technically means accomplishing all that we’ve strived for throughout our life, but why does majority of society pin the word ‘success’ to having a stable career, a lot of money, a relationship that may (or already has) lead to marriage, kids, and that stereotypical white picket fence we always hear about?

Maybe, just maybe, that isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Maybe taking a different path for yourself where you still accomplish your aim or purpose is perfectly fine. Perfectly fine and actually extremely refreshing to see, especially in my generation of millennials.

We grew up with the ‘American Dream’ mentality that generations before instilled in upon us. The idea that we need to go to really good schools to obtain good jobs, money, homes, better relationships, and the list goes on. The world seemed black and white, like there weren’t these grey and pink and yellow areas where we could do all of that but also maintain a side hustle. Where we could create our own business that shared our passions and drive with the world. Where we were allowed to take risks that involved traveling the world and experiencing new cultures rather than mapping out when we would buy our first house and have that first kid.

We (as in us millennials) are paving a way that involves having a unique meaning to the word ‘success’, or rather applying that basic definition that I mentioned before in our own way. Whether that means buying your first home, establishing your own company, or simply paying your cell phone bill on your own without Mom and Dad’s help.

My ‘American Dream’ looks nothing like yours, and definitely doesn’t even come close to what I had imagined when I was in high school. But that’s what’s great about the freedom we as young millennials have (and that everyone should have), is that we can continuously keep changing what our definition of success looks like. It doesn’t have to abide by any rules or expectations set upon us by society. And yes, maybe that cushy job, money, house, and marriage are safe. But, it should be okay for the rest of us to take risks and forget about that safe zone if we choose to.

Of course we probably will have some failures along the way, but failure is never the end all. We keep going, keep striving, and keep reaching for our own slice of that ‘American Dream’ or really whatever dream you have.

The most difficult part of being a young adult with more creative ‘out of the box’ goals is the judgement or the ‘wtf are you actually doing with your life’ concerns (I’m still not sure if they are even concerns) from other generations. The moms, dads, or even people the same age as my peers and I on the same path, who don’t understand that creative spirit that drives some of us to do more than find a life for ourselves where we settle down and create a ‘stable’ home and income.

But, the upside is that we have each other. We have all of the other millennials out there who are mastering their own success in their own way in their own time. We hustle, we fall, we fail, and then we get up and continue pushing for the things we want.

When I had just graduated college in 2014, a video of Jim Carrey doing a commencement speech popped up on my news feed. One piece of the speech that I immediately wrote in the notes section of my phone went like this,

“You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on what you do want.”

I don’t think I truly grasped what he was saying until I recently looked back and saw the quote in my phone. And then it hit me that even if I’ve changed course, even if my dreams aren’t quite what they were when I graduated college, I could fail either way.

So, I’m taking Carrey’s advice and attempting to do what I actually want for myself in all areas of my life. Career, relationships, side hustles, what I wear, what I watch, what I listen to- it’s all what I want. And that, is a truly liberating feeling to (no matter what happens) follow my gut which will lead me to that success I’ve been talking about .

The point? Don’t let any one but YOU determine what success looks like for your life. Strive for whatever goals truly bring joy and excitement to you. That will always look different than what your parents have in mind or what your best friend is doing, but that doesn’t matter. Follow your own path to success and you will lead a fulfilling life.


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