“Success is counted sweetest/ By those who ne’er succeed,” famous lines by Emily Dickinson, reclusive American poet unrecognized in her own time.
The very elusive and ever sought-after Success. Of course, those who don’t succeed, forever crave for success. “Being successful is all that matters,” we hear so often growing up. But what is a success? Good education, well-paying job, a house, a fancy car, regular promotions, frequent international vacations, etc. etc. Those more talented carve their own success stories – successful young cricketer, best-selling author, singer, actor, entrepreneur, etc. etc. Nowadays, we also have highly successful internet entrepreneurs and celebs. Kylie Jenner has certainly carved a new success story, for so many to follow. Most of us ordinary mortals, who don’t have any special talents study hard, work harder, chase success and what comes along with it for the rest of our lives. We keep chasing and sometimes just keep moving around in circles, for there’s no end and there’s always so much more to achieve.
So, is a success a wild goose chase? Sometimes it is because there’s never enough. Our ambition and societal pressure fuel our innate need to be more and more successful – bigger cars, more expensive vacations, pressure to keep up with peers. It does give us adrenaline rush for a while, but soon becomes a habit or a compulsion. Some handle it well some don’t. Madonna is the queen of pop even in her sixties, teen sensation Britney Spears had a meltdown at 18.
Success does not come easy; it takes back a lot. We win some, we lose some. In our mad rush, we forget what the earth smells like, we forget how peaceful starlit nights can be, we forget to have real conversations, we neglect relationships. Unfortunately, success is often measured in material terms. If you sit back and enjoy the rains instead of working on your next business pitch you are considered a work shirker, a loser. But do we really want to be successful in the terms defined by society?
Our class reunion last year made me look at success in a completely different light. There we were, together after over a decade, some settled abroad, some top corporate honchos, some back home in Agartala running very successful businesses. When we were growing up success was packaged as good college education and successful career abroad or in cities like Delhi or Mumbai. Those who stayed behind of course didn’t make the cut and at that point, we felt slightly superior to them. But after all these years, our fancy college education and jobs didn’t seem to matter. Everyone was successful in their own way. While those in Agartala have turned out to be successful businessmen and entrepreneurs, our class topper who everybody assumed would excel in life, got into drugs while studying medicine in a prestigious institute and just fell off the radar.
Success, therefore, is relative. It means different things to different people, but it does claim a prize. We can’t have it all, we need to make some difficult choices. So, choose wisely, go for what you really want and enjoy the race!
Written by Sumana Bhattacharya