Is your road not paved with success?

They always say that the road to success is paved with ‘good intentions.’ (Replace “success” with “hell” and you get a proverb that has been adapted into many pop songs). But, first off, who are ‘they?’ And, second, everyone is different so this one sentence may not apply to all.

Not everyone copes the same way. In fact, I don’t know one person in my life who deals with life situations the same way I do. We are all different; we deal with our lives in diverse ways. So, with that said, no one person has the same perception of success as another.

I hate it when someone says you “have” to be in a certain place by a certain time. I hate it when I’m told or I’m forced into something I don’t want to do. For example, “you should be done your University degree by the time you’re this age,” or “you should have kids before you’re 30,” or “you should be settled with a boyfriend and aim to be married by this time.” This becomes very problematic for me when I’m told what to do by a certain time frame. I am my own person – I make my own decisions. My road is my own. I struggle, I make mistakes, I fix them, I get back up again. We should really take “should” and “have to be” out of our vocabulary, because the odds are that most individuals will not “be” in the same time frame as the norm (if there even is a norm for these things anymore).

Success, then, means more than getting things done by a certain time. I strongly believe that living a successful life involves falling down and getting back up again. Success, then, to me, means resilience: if you are challenged and faced with negativity, and you still pursue it, then you are stronger than you think you are. Success doesn’t just mean earning a diploma and having a relationship with someone. Success could be as small as waking up in the morning and actually getting up, or smiling at yourself for something you did. Sometimes success means just “being”: maybe there is no end goal, maybe you are successful just for going about your daily business. Therefore, my argument is, there is no one “true” definition of success, and there is no time frame for when it needs to be accomplished.

Here is a perfect example of my road. It was a bumpy ride so far, and I’m still on this roller coaster and pushing through.

5 years ago, I applied to University for the first time. I started at Concordia in Honours Psychology in Fall 2012, and then I ended up at McGill in Winter 2013 with a double major in English Literature and Psychology instead, and I’ve been there ever since, which has brought me to a Master’s degree. It’s really funny how things don’t always work out as planned. I went off the beaten path and changed my road more than a few times. I guess they call them “bumps in the road” for a reason.

So, does success only come when you get things done? Or does success change over time, for different people? In my opinion, no two successful people are the same. I am a strong believer in Fate, and I do think that even if you aren’t in the “best” place on your road, that you are still successful in another area of your life. My path is a zig-zag, and sometimes the ghosts from Pac-Man follow me and bring me down; but just like Pac-Man, I regenerate, and I get more chances. I’m not saying I’m a cat with nine lives, but hey, you always have a new chance and a new choice.

Success doesn’t mean you need to follow your road, from start to finish. Follow your goals, if that is what you wish, but if you start to veer toward a fork in the road, maybe it’s time to follow that path as well. Things change, YOU change. Let yourself go with the flow, as hard as it is.

In the end, though, there IS no *true* end. There are always other routes, other options, and new beginnings. So, do not feel discouraged if you do not feel that you are in the right place right now, whether it is for school, your career, your personal or social life, or anything else. Sometimes you need to learn and experience where you are in the present before you can change your route. Even if you have future goals or a new destination in mind, the path you are on will pave the way; maybe the path isn’t as clear or as straight as you want it to be, but there are always forks in the road that will become lucid over time. As I always say, a little bit of realism and a tiny bit of optimism with your coffee or tea in the morning can make a difference. You are where you are for a reason.

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