It is fitting that writing this blog comes at a time when the energy driving me forward is at its lowest. And with the finish line of a chaotic undergrad only a year away, it feels like the pressure of success is aggregating rather than decreasing. I’ve been reflecting extensively on the nature of my future, meticulously planning every detail, trying to foresee every turn of events and hoping that I come out on top, when in reality, I really have no clue what to expect. This, unsurprisingly, frightens me. Like most of my peers, I am driven towards success. And like most my peers, I am willing to sacrifice countless hours of sleep, to overdose on caffeine, or to even crawl through mud, if that’s what it takes. However, with these hours being put towards attaining this utopia of mine, I have foolishly forgotten to define, as Simon Sinek puts it, my “why”.
What is success to me? Its certainly not materialistic. Its not about power either. Aristotle hypothesized that we seek “Eudaimonia”, a continuous state of well-being and happiness. Having spent most of my life in a developing country marred by poverty and corruption, I have learnt that happiness is not (and cannot be) a destination. Happiness is the vehicle with which we face the various vicissitudes of life.
Then, what fuels the internal flame of motivation I have so frantically tried to preserve? I think I’m driven towards leaving a legacy. What if I could be remembered? What if I could inspire people? And what if, one day, I perturb the status quo? As corny as it sounds, nothing would bring me more fulfillment or attainment, than knowing that I successfully left an impression on the world. Oddly enough, I don’t know where these feelings come from. Is my self-esteem somehow in need of external validation? Am I after pride? Do I have some kind of innate sense of wish fulfillment? That would be too weak of a foundation for starting a future. If I died without recognition but with the knowledge that I’ve rendered someone’s life better, would that bother me? I honestly don’t think so.
In that case, maybe my version of success is having an impact on the quality of someone’s life. The world is saturated with selfishness. And although selfishness might not necessarily be detrimental, maybe a little altruism would be useful for once? Maybe exercising pure compassion is what I am truly after. I still wonder if it is altruism though. For all I know, I could be delusional workaholic with a massive God-complex. Actually, I think that last one would be a stretch.
Les Brown says the richest place on the planet is the graveyard because of all the unrealized dreams and ambitions buried within it. I believe that a rich graveyard is better than a lonely one. Impact or not, a life without family and friends, or rather REAL family and REAL friends, is not one worth living. This makes the dilemma of success even more difficult. If there’s anything I take away from this short reflection is that MY success lies somewhere in the cyclic relationship between altruism and love.