The Undefinition of Success

I was never really told I could do things, or that I should try things. Don’t get me wrong – my parents are lovely people, but I am their only child. All that really means is I was raised through trial and error and I’m sure lots of exasperation.

Parents of multiple children often echo this sentiment. “[We] had no idea what [we] were doing! They were like cats, all around my ankles,” my friend exclaimed. We laughed, me, single and content; her, with three beautiful children doted on by our community. I’m told that by the time you’re raising your second, you’re kind of in the swing of things.

I kept asking my parents for voice lessons. Surprisingly, they obliged. I think it was more to appease my asking and to keep me occupied than seizing a teaching tactic where I was encouraged to find something interesting to me. Encouragement is good. It instills confidence. It shifts the focus away from achievement, bringing proper attention to the process.

I considered majoring in Communications in undergrad, because for all my incessant Ask Jeeves internet searching, the cool people who worked at record labels or in A&R all seemed to have studied media and communications at either NYU or USC. “Communications” is a pretty vague description for even well-educated immigrant parents, and my interests were often dismissed with, “You should be a lawyer. You should study psychology. Are you sure you don’t want to be a doctor?” I love my parents. Honestly, honing in on psychology was a pretty good assessment of my qualities.

I was fed with all the things I should do that I never learned how to gingerly explore the things I found cool. I wanted to know how to get from Point A to Point Z, and it would make me a nervous wreck that I couldn’t find a step-by-step of how to get anywhere. If only someone had told me that no one ever really knows with certainty how to get…anywhere.

It probably had a little to do with always hearing how smart I was. I was so dumb I actually believed it.

I’d like to think a mark of wisdom is realizing you’ll always be figuring something out. That’s part of the excitement, and awesomely a huge part of the fun. I’m exercising the muscles needed for effort and persistence despite the unknown outcome, and wow, what a different set of muscles it truly is.

Keep trying weird things. Don’t worry about the outcome. Just have as much fun as possible – everyone wants to be around someone who’s having fun.

Enjoy this gem, folks.