Opinion: Success and happiness are achieved differently

Four years. 1,460 days. 35,040 hours utilized to uncover our purpose. We are told that we find ourselves in high school, that we will leave this place with a clear conception of who we’re supposed to be for the rest of our lives. At the age of 16, I must discover the reason behind why I get out of bed every morning, what drives me, my passions, and how I plan on following through on these upcoming chapters of my life. We spend all this time creating the best versions of ourselves, but what if, maybe, that isn’t good enough?

Growing up, I always had a clear picture of the life I wished to live. I would perform songs in our living room, dance in the aisles of grocery stores, and pretend to talk to a video camera. At the young age of four, I always dreamt of making it big. I wanted to mean something to people. I would sing and dance my heart out. I wanted my name in big, flashing lights.

As I got closer to approaching the logistics of my future, this dream still stayed prominent in my mind; however, the magic of it had diminished. The likeliness of achieving this goal was overwhelmed by fear and self-doubt, emotions that are hard to dispose of.

I began losing myself as soon as I had found myself. The pressures of reaching success along with a steady income altered my perspective of what living a fulfilling life truly meant. If I was doing exactly what I wanted career-wise, but was making only an adequate income, would I be happy? The stigma around prospering through payment played a colossal role in changing my opinion on my career and success. Following a more traditional route began to sink into my mind. My only goals revolved around graduating high school, going to a four-year university, and landing myself a nine-to-five corporate job. Was that the path I wanted to find myself going down? Of course not. A piece of me will always dream of traveling the world, touring cities, and pursuing my passions. But what’s stopping me from believing that this is a reasonable lifestyle? Perhaps it’s that daunting list of college majors we have to choose from; maybe it’s the standardized test scores that determine our lives. Or maybe it’s the expectations I’m expected to live up to that get in the way.  

Societal pressures to attend a prestigious college with a perfect major that will lead me to a secure lifelong job still taunt me as I begin approaching my future. But from what I’ve learned, there is no reason to look down on someone who jumps around without security from time to time. We’re here to explore and discover our core values and reach this place of satisfaction. How we get there is purely up to ourselves. The way I find myself shouldn’t have to be based upon the number that I score on my SAT, or the major I circle on a piece of paper. These should never be factors that are the defining points of who we are or are going to be. I still have hope that, maybe, this little dream of mine won’t be so little one day.

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