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Make Your Own Definition Of Success

by Esmeralda Tamayo

Thinking that you will have everything figured out when you graduate can be frustrating. Especially when you find yourself in the transition from adolescence to adulthood. There’s a constant battle within ourselves between who you are and who you’re trying to be, all while trying to create your own definition of success.

Post-college depression is a real thing, and many students who have already graduated are probably if they are successful.

According to Oxford Languages, success is “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.” My own connotation of success is being happy with who I am and trusting the process.

For the first 18 years of our life, all we knew was the word education and being in a structured routine that provided us with security. Once we graduate, we are on our own, and this may lead us to feel anxious or depressed while trying to discover our true selves.

Cosmopolitan said that 49% of recent graduates saw their mental health decline after seeing their classmates doing better than them. Additionally, 40% felt the necessity to compare themselves and felt socially isolated.

The reality is that there is not only the pressure we put on ourselves. Social media also plays a role in this issue. These platforms have made a huge impact by forcing us to compare ourselves with others. Posting pictures of our personal and professional life almost feels like a constant competition with no winner.

Most of the people I follow seem to have their whole life already figured out and are living their dream life, while I’m still in the process of doing so. Making me feel extremely disorganized and lost.

I’m the type of person who likes to plan everything in my life, always worrying about the future. It has led me to suffer from depression and even question my worth in every aspect of my life.

When I graduated from Montclair State University with my undergraduate degree, I felt good but I knew it wasn’t the end. I enrolled in a five-year program and am currently a graduate student. The word “success” has stuck in my mind and in my lexicon for the past five years.

I tried to be an overachiever, and the routine of being a college student was my secure place. But once it was over, I automatically felt like I was missing it. No more daily routine and the “Am I succeeding?” question continues to resurface in my mind again.

Applying for new jobs is still a nightmare, especially for the position that I am aiming for. I currently work for a language academy and I love my job. I started when I was an undergrad, but as I continue in the same job, I started to feel like I was going back two steps instead of moving forward.

There was a deep feeling of misplacement when my friends asked me where I was working. I didn’t want to tell them I was in the same job.

To make this situation even more difficult, my parents pressured me to apply for a “real job,” as they say. In other words, to work a straight morning or afternoon shift or to have a well-paying job with which I can help them financially. This is quite the opposite of my current job.

My mother always emphasizes the phrase “You came to this country to do better than me.” Therefore, I have to work extremely hard to be the successful daughter that she wants me to be.

It took me a while to come to my senses and begin to recognize my accomplishments. I’m only 23 years old and I realized it’s okay if not everything goes as I plan. This is the time to enjoy the process of success, but with my own definition and rules of success.

Success for me now means recognizing what I have accomplished thus far and that it’s valid to take your time to figure everything out.

You are not alone in this process. Whenever you feel stuck, remember how far you’ve come and that you’re more than allowed to come up with your own definition of success.

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