The Thing About Success
When I first had the idea to write this post, I couldn't decide whether to write about success or money. What is it, exactly, that's bothering me so much? People associate the two things together all the time: money is success and success is money. On the other hand, I can claim myself to be successful because I won a prize but that doesn't necessarily make me wealthy. In the end, money is just one of the possible outcomes of success. As the school year inches closer, and thank God for that, I'm beginning to worry a lot about my future. The human part of me is worried about finding a job, buying a house, and starting a family. The other side of me, the one that tries to avoid logical reasoning, tells me that the job market isn't really that bad and employers want graduates with English degrees. My thought process for the last few years has been this: if the person driving that new BMW down the road can somehow afford that car, why can't I? I should be equally as qualified or able to do what they do. Yet, here I am, nothing close to a new car.
I struggle with the idea of success because I come from the rather disheartening Asian culture that forces wealth, power, and intelligence as the prime factors of determining worth in a person. My parents have never been too hard on me about becoming a doctor but it doesn't matter. I live in a area where prep schools advertise the colleges their students were accepted into, parents are constantly comparing and bragging about their children, and what a car or house a family owns is more important than whether they are humans with any decency.
There's little doubt that I've always had the potential to be, ironically, typical. I never knew about Hunter High School and the exam required. I missed out on Bronx Science by a mere two questions. I could've easily had a 90+ average if I didn't decide to take freshmen year off in High School. Maybe I would have done more SAT prep had I taken a look at the future. The rites of passage, as an Asian, came and went, ultimately putting me in the position I'm in now.
Even in college I could have worked harder. I've always had this confidence that being unique, in my area of study, had to account for something. I insinuated this belief in myself that I had what is real intelligence - something far more than simply being book-smart. But none of that has landed me anything. Somehow, I see people who I have little respect for achieve what is glorified as success on Facebook and Instagram.
A part of me thinks I can justify a 80k salary for myself but I'm willing to settle for 40k. I want a luxury car but I can live with an economy one. I would love a dog, house, and driveway but apartments have perks too. I couldn't stop thinking about success because neither of the two scenarios I put in front of myself seemed feasible. The idea about taking half of what I considered to be the minimum was a frightening one.
I came to a conclusion while walking down Flushing the other day. As much as I wanted the Lexus I just walked by, the thought about having the wife of my dreams, to go along with a family, seemed much more like success and that's something not naturally purchasable with money. The things I find most precious to me came to me in an instant: my faith in God, the thought of meeting her, and providing for my parents. For these things, if I can somehow make it happen without the prospect of money, that would epitomize success to me. The feeling of these almost whimsical realizations, dare I call it true success, enamored me.
So, yes, I can name tons of friends ready to make more money than I probably ever will. I'll probably still worry about where I am a year from now, despite thinking through this for the umpteenth time. I can picture the life I dream and want, what my job consists of, and all the little processes of life. I can pick apart the scenes from films I want in my life, dissect the luxurious houses I drive by, and wonder how it's like to eat organic everyday. These are all the things I'll inevitably want.
But that wouldn't really be success, would it?