Although my life changes almost every day, one thing remains constant: I've always got an eye on being "successful."
Since I was a child I've wanted to be considered a true success. I wanted to be the best in my class; when we had fake bank accounts in the fifth grade, I had to have the most money. I had to be an officer in every club, I had to have the most unique outfits and car. Everything I did, I wanted it to be perfect and noticeable.
My methods of measuring success have changed, though. When I was younger I was so dead set on a particular kind of success: college, graduation, amazing job, supporting myself, and maybe a family. Maybe. I wanted to move to a city and rock the world with my writing. Doing it the best and doing it all alone: that was the definition of success for me.
And as I worked my way through college I found myself still pursuing that goal: my last semester in college I had a 4.0 GPA and was about to start freelancing for the local newspaper, while holding the second highest position in my college newsroom, until I took a leap of faith and decided to drop out of school to pursue that journalism dream even further. Even though I wasn't finishing school, something I used to think was crucial to my success, I thought landing a full-time job was even more successful.
...Until I realized how unhappy I was in it. Sure, I was at the peak of success. I was working hard, doing really well, but at the end of the day I came home with a nervous knot in my stomach. I wasn't happy with what I was doing, and although I was proud of myself, I started to realize that maybe success isn't only made up of what can be seen on the surface. Maybe true success digs a little deeper.
When I was 19 I blogged about the American dream: the house, the husband, the 2.5 kids and the dog. I said that wasn't for me: I needed a career and I needed to be a breadwinner. But now, at 24 years old, I'm three days away from my wedding to a man who can support me in every single way. According to my younger self, I haven't accomplished anything in terms of being successful. But in my heart, I know I'm at the top of my game.
I may be in a job that has a path to be determined. I may be en route to having children, buying a house and creating that family lifestyle. But if I'm feeling the most loved I have ever felt in my life, couldn't that be considered a success? Why have I always felt the need to be successful on paper? Why couldn't I let my heart win for once, and truly find success with pure happiness?
Well, now I am. My American dream has changed. I find comfort in my family, love, and where my life is headed. Sure, I don't have the diploma or the six-figure career, but I have the tools and love I need to make my life a success. So it's time to enjoy it, wherever it may take me.