22 August 2011

the measure of success.

I have been thinking about this a lot lately. Success, that is. And how do we achieve it? My high school reunion is coming up and I am debating whether or not I should go. And if I do, what will I tell my peers? What have I accomplished in the past 10 years?

All through high school, I always a mediocre student, averaging B's & C's. And if I took a particularly easy class or was interested in the subject matter, I'd get an A.

After high school, I did the thing that most people do. I went to college. Well, a community college, but college none-the-less. I went to college because that was what the "right" thing to do. My first couple of years there, I joined the dance team and loved it and made some good friends. But the educational part of it, I didn't really take it seriously. At the time, I'm sure it was more of a social thing for me, than a real path to a career. I took random classes, trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. After about 2 years at the community college and still no clue as to what I wanted to do and who I actually was, I decided college wasn't for me. I wasn't doing well in classes, and had no real direction. I didn't wanna be one of those people that paid the money just to say they got a a degree... in something that I didn't even love.

I always told myself that I would go back when I knew what I wanted to do. And there was always a reason why "now isn't the right time"... I didn't have the money, or the time... excuses excuses excuses. Well, needless to say - I have always felt guilty for not going back to finish my degree. I have always felt like I would never be successful if I didn't go back to school and make something of myself.

But recently, I haven't been feeling that way. It's taken me a very long time, but I realize that now that for me, success isn't a fancy degree- or fame and fortune. Although these things are wonderful, I can not measure myself against them. (and of course, to those that have earned these things, you should most certainly be proud of yourself!)

For me personally, success is a happy life. Success is exactly what I have. Faith in God, a wonderful family, a thriving photography business, and a sense of self worth. I couldn't be more blessed, and I'm thankful for all of the lessons I have learned over the years. And who knows, maybe I'll go back and finish my degree some day. But if I don't.... I think I'm okay with that.

Everyone measures success differently, what is it to you?


Anonymous said...

I completely agree! While I was pregnant I seriously debated whether I should go back to school or not. To be honest the biggest reason I'm going is so I don't disappoint my mom, which I know I've already done by having Alyson so young but she said before she dies she wants one of her kids to graduate college and sadly I'm honestly the only one who might even do this (out of 4) even with a child. Although I am doing it for myself as well but it really bothers me when people say you're unsuccessful if you don't have a degree. Like you I say as long as you're happy with your life and family you're being successful!

Oh Jazmyn

Kelsey said...

Your story sound exactly like mine. (Minus the dance team, can you say two left feet?)

Our 10 year class reunion was a few months ago and I went. I was surprised by a few things.

1. People wanted to hang out more than grill each other about the last 10 years. I realized at the end I had a GREAT time with some people and still had NO idea what they do now!

2. I was shocked at how many people (particularly guys) were green with envy over my cozy American Dream life.

True happiness isn't found with a degree; but it pours out of your being and people see that.

You should go.

highheels2flipflops said...

I totally agree! Success for me would be raising confident, productive, happy children who believe in God and live their lives accordingly.

Amanda M. said...

I "took a semester off" when I had about a year left of my teaching degree.....that was 11 years ago! I never went back. I regret that, but at the same time, I was so burnt out and needed the break. I would love to return, but like you, I'm very happy with my life. My oldest son is a Junior in high school, so now the only college-talk in my house is directed at him! :)

Sarah @ This Crazy Blessed Life said...

I did finish school and I have a great job. But this is definitely not what defines my success. Usually people that I know or meet have no idea what I do and I never feel the need to share.

My husband, kids, and Christ define my success. I'd give anything to be able to stay at home with my babies. I almost wish I hadn't gotten my degree and such a great job. It would be much easier to quit :)

Amber said...

Lovely post Mandy that I am sure felt GREAT to put it "out there."

I know that being passionate about what you do is an excellent measure of success unless you think passionate means you have to love every minute of it.

I am passionate about Physical Therapy and am glad that I spent 6+ years in college to practice, but I have also had moments when being a P.T. has been challenging, frustrating, and overwhelming. It is then I sit back and remember that work, no matter what it is will always have an element of dissatisfaction, because it was part of the curse that God passed onto man when sin entered the world.

All of that to say that I am successful, because I have found something I am passionate about and I try to use it to glorify God by impacting His creation.....MAN.

You have to through........PHOTOGRAPHY. May the blessings of Christ fall fresh on you today.

Joni said...

i completely agree. it took me almost 12 years to go back to school after highschool and when i did, i wasn't really sure what i wanted to do. my degree is in early childhood development, however, i have no real desire to work with children other than my own. i love children, but i can honestly say, that WORK is probably just not my think. at least not one of those daily grind, 9-5ish kinda deals. ugh! just thinking of having to do something like that frightens me. sadly, i could be one of a few things, lazy and spoiled comes to mind. either way, i am happy where i am at and my degree has NOTHING to do with it.

Summer said...

Wow. I feel the same way. I also didn't finish college but have thought of going back to do so. I have so many friends that have graduated with their masters and have no job but TONS of debt. Like that makes me feel good. Like you, I have a wonderful family and my photography business, although not big, it does give me a real sense of joy.

I din't go back to my 10 year reunion (mine was last year) because honestly, I haven't really kept in contact with anyone from high school. I have a few that I talk to but that's it. I didn't want to feel awkward or shy or feel like people would judge me because to them, I haven't done much. Will I go to my 20 year? Still don't know.

Courtney K. said...

I had the same issue with college. I joined a sorority, made some fantastic friends, but never got all that into the educational part. I was really good at "school" but just didn't ever find anything that I really enjoyed. I have the opportunity to go back this coming January, and think I'm going to pass for now. Because I really have no desire to sit in a classroom. I am doing what I love right now, without college. And that makes me successful.

Emily said...

i think being a small business owner, having a blog, and raising a CHILD is a huge success - it's one of the hardest things to do! Just because you didn't do all the things people think you are supposed to do, that doesn't mean anything. I was a bit surprised at my 10 year that lots and lots of people didn't take the traditional college/big career path - and no one seemed to care, everyone would explain what they did and people are like "cool"....if anything, it was more about..."are you married?"...."do you have kids?"....not "did you finish college" ?

Shannon said...

That's exactly how I feel, too. My husband and I got engaged 2 weeks before I graduated high school. We weren't pregnant or anything, we just knew that we wanted to marry each other and didn't want to wait. I had several teachers who were awful to me about it. They told me that I was going to waste my life and that wanting to be a godly wife and mother and to raise godly children was not success.
At the end of it all, when we stand before our Lord, he's not going to ask us what we did with our education or how much money we made, but how we used our life to serve him and love others. We know what really matters.

DebZorn said...

You almost can't go wrong with a good education. I have a college degree but that is absolutely NOT what makes me successful. I've had several good jobs, started my own business, sold the business and now I'm a SAH(old)mom. Like you, my faith, my wonderful family, and my work ethic are what have made me successful.

Michelle said...

So true! My 10 year high school reunion was Saturday (check my blog for my experience), and I felt the exact same way. I also went to community college but didn't finish. Now I'm a successful insurance agent and mom to my almost two-year old son. And you know what? I'm damn proud of my life. Even if I didn't lose the 20+ pounds I planned to before the reunion, I still was SO glad I went. I'm happy therefore I'm doing awesome.

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ADSchill said...

I also have always wanted to go back and learn more, get another degree, find a different profession...but I am at the point in my life where I am looking for a different kind of success.

Success doesn't have to be about what you do for a job. It can be about accomplishing other goals and getting to a place where you are who you want to be.

That is a true success.

ADSchill said...

I also have always wanted to go back and learn more, get another degree, find a different profession...but I am at the point in my life where I am looking for a different kind of success.

Success doesn't have to be about what you do for a job. It can be about accomplishing other goals and getting to a place where you are who you want to be.

That is a true success.

Olivia Grace said...

"success is a happy life", AMEN!! This is what it's all about, friend. We can all sit and examine our lives and see room for improvement or wishes for things to be done differently, but that is the beautiful thing about it. We keep growing and changing and our paths keeps changing course. Opening yourself up to possibility is what it's all about, and recognizing what you DO have. You are a blessed woman and inspire me daily!

Ashley said...

I think of you as so successful Mandy! I think I am in a way because I'm happy with my life but I think I like I need a job/business to really call myself a "success"

Kiara Buechler said...

As you know, I am all or you attending the reunion, since I will be there with Chad and will know like three people there.

At my ten year last summer, I don't think anyone even asked about school, and only one person asked about my career. I spent most of the time sitting at a table with some people I hadn't seen in ten years, but whom I am friends with on FB. We talked about babies most of the time :-)

The Bonjour Four said...

i couldn't agree more! great post. You are a success. You seriously are an inspiration to me with your photography. I think you are amazing!

Nikki said...

I would rather share what you're doing than what I'm doing. You know I think you're so lovely and talented, I sing your praises all the time.

A degree is just an expensive foot in the door, and happiness is a personal thing. There are probably a few people out there with glamorous high paying jobs that are very unhappy, but I hope not.

Lucy said...

Yikes, reunions kind of freak me out. I think the only person who can measure your success is yourself. Are you content? Passionate about your daily life? To me, there is no greater success than having excitement for each day.

Andree and Josh said...

Getting my degree was hard work, and it took me 7 years to get my bachelors degree, with a couple semesters off, and working to pay my way through school. I was grateful that I never took out any student loans, because I got married right after graduating! I graduated from the University of Utah in 2008, right when the economy got Really Bad! I could not find a job, and felt like a failure because of it. I still do not have a job in my field, and honestly don't know if I ever will. But I do not regret getting one. Knowledge, my education, will never be taken from me. It is something I will always have, and I feel good about that, despite everything. I've always felt that my greatest feeling of "success" would come when I become a mother. I want to be the best mom I can, and am so excited for that day to come for my husband and I. Have you felt that way about motherhood? Just a sense of accomplishment?
Also, I'm going to steal your quote by Margaret Nadauld. I just love it!