Personal Essay 4 – Success

Personal Essay Button I’ll be writing and posting Personal Essays on the last Tuesday of every month. They will be honest, sometimes vivid explorations of my life.

I’m writing them for two reasons: to help put my experiences in perspective and to purge myself of any residual compost.

Since it is good therapy, you are invited to join me, post your link in comments and I’ll be sure to drop by.

Let it begin:

I read somewhere that we should not measure success by what others deem successful, but what we determine instead. If we want to leave a mark to prove we were here, we need to decide what we want to be remembered for. One method is to write our own obit, listing our most important achievements and future goals. I’d like to be remembered for kindness toward others, my love of family and determination toward excellence, even in the smallest of projects. What is success to you?

We all have our own ideas. Some of us look at celebrities, and think popularity is what it is all about; maybe it’s creativity, upholding the law, or power. It’s different for all of us and it should be. As I’ve said once and will say again, we are as different as grains of sand and together we are something to behold. Being a Sagittarius, I aim an arrow, let it fly, plot a course after it, and follow it blindly.

Goals, dreams, successes are as individual as we are. So should we define, assign, and list what we would like people to remember about us? It would make our eulogist’s job easier. It might, but consider this–what others hear after we are gone might not be thought of as successful, and what we think of ourselves as we live and thrive might not be the mark we wish to leave behind?  A thought that might be wise to address while you can do something about it.

I’d like to be remembered for my pursuit of excellence, love of family and my kindness toward others. Sometimes my kindness doesn’t come across as such; a private truth shared may save another discomfort in future and may also be interpreted as a personal attack. I debate this when I’m offered a cold shoulder for my trouble and don’t mind being shunned if it saves that same person form letters, public humiliation, or harsh reviews, but what will I be remembered for? Probably not for my long career at the telephone company, or the list of jobs that followed afterward, or my settling down in my hometown, or caring for my family, or raising a good man. I’d like to think that these many things and others will be noted, but will they? All I can do is measure myself by my actions and know that being a good person, even with my list of failures, is enough.

Success should be as personal as our dreams. And I chase my dreams each day. Some, big and small, I’ve achieved and feel good about. Some others are tickling my fingertips, but I can’t quite reach them–yet. What amazes me is of all my dreams of success not one of them is about money. What about you?

13 responses to “Personal Essay 4 – Success

  1. So true, when I think about never factors in to the equation. It comes more from friendship, partnerships, a good mother, wife, friend that sort of thing. I guess I would want people to say I was a caring, happy person who saw the joy in the little things.

  2. I’d like to think that whether we are remembered or not, our actions are what really count. I will remember how much help you’ve always been but most of all. I’d remember that you took the time to help a newbie and that you always treated her as a friend and not as a tool to be used later in your own work. And above all it’s the friendship i’ll be remembering.

    Excellent post, as usual Em.

  3. I’d like to account my success in terms of my kids–knowing they’ve learned something about being kind and respectful of others, unprejudiced. Have some direction they’d want to follow. And also that I’ve made a difference in someone’s life. 🙂 –in a good way

    • No doubt your children will have that and more. You are a fine example of a mother, writer, and woman. And you have made a difference in my life by dropping by and encouraging me. 🙂

  4. jenniferbielman

    Very true. I don’t feel the need to be labeled successful by others standards. But I would like to be remembered for working towards what I love to do, no settling for the easy route.

  5. I agree. You might not be remembered for what you want to be but as long as you stay the course and do the right things you’ll live a good life. I don’t necessarily want to be remembered for anything. I just want to have a good life that I have fully lived.

  6. Thanks for sharing such personal thoughts.
    For me success is measured in the smiles of kids. As a teacher, money was never (and I hope never will) a goal. Everytime a kid smiles because he or she understood an excercise or remembered the meaning of a simple word (because I teach English to children here in Uruguay) then I know my work is done.
    I used to dream about being remembered as a revolutionary person, I wanted to accomplish a world changing act. Today, I’m happy with a life full of laughs, love and great books 🙂

    • Ruty,

      Touching children’s minds makes huge changes in the world. I still remember teachers I had, and they guided me to see myself in a better light. I felt smarter, more able and stronger because of them.

      You are leaving your mark and it will pass on through generations like ripples in a pond moving outward. 🙂

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