Defining Success: When you feel like a failure.


Some define success as attaining wealth, others may define it as accomplishing goals. Some may view success as reaching certain standards at certain stages of life.

Getting married, finding the perfect career, having children or not having children. All of these may been seen as success to some.

One thing I’ve learned is, what success means to one person is not what it might mean to another. Within societies, however, we tend to adapt similar ideas of what success looks like, and those who take their own path are sometimes frowned upon.

I’ve struggled for years feeling like a failure because my life doesn’t look like those around me. I didn’t realize how much comparison played into what we find successful. For example, when I graduated high school with all of my peers I felt successful, I’d accomplished my first big goal.

HighSchool Graduation

College has been a different story. Instead of coming to college, finding the perfect major, graduating and starting families, I did the opposite. I came to college confused, changed my major twice, lost a family member, became depressed and dropped out. I then started a family, traveled a bit and thought about what I really wanted to do and then returned to finish. Though returning hasn’t made me feel successful, in fact it’s made me feel quite the opposite.


For some reason getting my degree really seemed to be the determining factor in whether I’d be successful or not. Though, many of the people our society deems as successful do not have college degrees.

Then I began to  wonder how many other people have been so brainwashed by societies ideas of success that we let ourselves feel this way.

It wasn’t until I had women telling me I was lucky to have a good husband and beautiful child that I realized success for them may look like something else. If my definition of success is having my own little loving family, then I am successful. However, when I compare my life to the standards of others I’ve learned that I might never feel successful.

Who is to say that one day when I graduate college, and find a job that I won’t still feel like a failure. Maybe I’ll have a decent job, but I may have classmates who seemingly have the “ideal” job. We tend to base our success on the success of others, at least I do. It’s a problem.

In short, others success is not the basis for our own. It’s not a competition. When you see people who are content and satisfied with where they are in life, whether it be a college drop-out, a stay at home mom, or a wealthy businesswoman, know that they are successful in their own way.

Success is relative to you and is not define by someone else.

– Rere

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