The Real Definition of Success

From a young age we are told that success is a tangible thing; something you work toward and achieve. Success is something I felt I achieved throughout my schooling life. Completing an assignment, getting a good grade, getting into a sporting team, a dance team, getting the part I wanted in a play. Success was easy. But what no one ever told me, is that that is not what real success is about. This is going to sound like a cliché, but success isn’t achieving, it is being happy, and it has taken me many years to see this. That is not to say the two things are mutually exclusive, an achievement can make you happy and that is a success, but waking up in the morning can make you happy and that success is just as valid.


For years after leaving school I felt like a failure, I started uni, but I never finished it. I jumped from one job to another like I was jumping from sinking ship to sinking ship, trying to bail out the water until I finally started to drown. I thought I was failing because I wasn’t good at my job, I wasn’t smart enough or fast enough. I watched everyone around me sleep, eat, work repeat and I was constantly falling behind. I thought I was failing because I wasn’t good enough, but really I was failing because I wasn’t happy enough.


In 2011, I was diagnosed with an Anxiety Disorder. Living and dealing with this knowledge has been one of my greatest challenges and one of my true successes. That may sound like an odd thing to say, but after quitting work for close to a year, struggling with depression and crippling social anxiety, I have started working full time as a retail assistant. For someone else, being 25 and working in retail mightn’t seem like much, but I ENJOY my job. I don’t dread work every day. I don’t dream up ways to avoid turning up the following day. I go to work, I come home. I eat, sleep, work, repeat. And that is my success.


I feel like in today’s society contentment has become synonymous with complacency, but for me, contentment is my greatest success.


So basically, what I am saying is that success is not the same for everyone. Don’t let someone else’s definition of success limit you, and don’t let it push you into somewhere you don’t need or want to be. Your definition of success can change over time, and it is never too late to revise your own idea of your own success.


I will leave you with one of my very most favourite cliché quotes:

“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”

– John Lennon


Sara is a crazy cat lady from Brisbane. When she isn’t writing, Sara is a professional window dresser and a cushion aficionado. Sara loves dancing and show tunes and is officially the youngest old person you will ever meet.

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