Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Voted Most Likely to Succeed...or most likely to Be Happy? Or both?

I was sitting in the car (in sweltering heat - what is with the heat this year??) listening to an NPR show where they were interviewing adults that had been voted "Most Likely to Succeed" during their final year of high school.

I found the interviews very interesting.  They talked about one girl they had interviewed off of the air who had come from very meager, hard-scrabble (her own words) beginnings and had ASKED her classmates to vote her this title because she knew in her heart of hearts she was only going up from where she was, determined to make a name for herself.  And, she did.  She is now a very successful entrepreneur in NYC.

There were others that had said that while they were proud of earning the title, it became very daunting as the years after high school went on and the economy started to fail, and jobs were lost, or worse, never gotten.

But the best part of the broadcast, and I'm sure the intent, was to find people who were bestowed the title, that measured their own successes instead of letting their job or their wealth (or lack thereof) define it.  

One woman said she actually started college, but then found her soul mate and now is living with her 4 children and husband on a farm and to her, that is success because she knows she is where she is supposed to be and is elated with her life.  Yet, she knows that if she went back to her high school now, her old classmates would think she failed, or didn't live up to her potential.

One man became an episcopal priest and said while he can't imagine his life being any more full than it is, he knows that his old classmates would just shake their head that he walked away from worldly possessions by choice.

We have a few friends that have children graduating this month and i think about the honors we have seen them receive, and all of the well wishes and advice being handed down, and I think what would i say to someone about to walk out into the world to make their mark?

If you had asked me even 10 years ago, my first reaction would be - finish college (i did not), find a good job and start putting money bank.  My mindset has definitely shifted.

Now, i think i would ask them "What makes your heart sing?  What thing do you look forward to the most?"  Follow THAT path - because if it is one thing I know, money is not everything.  Don't allow yourself to fall into the trap of wanting more, wanting better because once you start on the path of "acquisition" it is very hard to back out and untangle your life for a more simpler one.  

It seems so simple, yet i know so many of my friends, including myself, that have learned this the hard way.

Relationships don't cost money. At least the ones that count.  Invest your time in those.  Define your success by how happy you are when you wake up.  When the day is new, and you have a full 8 hour day ahead of you, are you eager to jump out of bed? Or do you want to crawl back in bury your face?

Also, think twice about a future with the cute boy or girl that doesn't share your dream of living in the city or living in the country, because at the end of the day, one (likely both) of you will end up resenting where you are.  One choice often begets another out of necessity so take your time and weigh your options.

Oh, and what would good advice be without giving the permission to fail as well. Failure is OK because now you know what doesn't work and you can rule that out.  Don't be afraid of trying anything. Especially when you're young.  Heck, even when you're not. TRY IT.

If you have enough food in your pantry, love in your life, clean sheets on your bed - i think you're doing OK.


  1. Great post.

    I know that my mindset has shifted too.

    I love your last sentence.

  2. Love this friend. All of it truth. I love your clean sheets, there is nothing better than that.