What is Success?


Throughout my experience with academia, I have always been very studious; one could say “over-committed”. The never-ending game of GPA and marks has always taken over my life. While, striving to be at the top fueled my drive to continue, it has also put me in tears several times. I constantly compare myself to others, feeling like I never measured up. I have been so overwhelmed lately that it has made me reevaluate. What do I really want from my years at university? Luckily I was quick to come up with an answer: I want to emerge as a more successful person. But, what is success at its core?

As you can tell by my dramatic introduction, this post is not my usual photo write up. So feel free to stop reading at this point if you do not want to glimpse into the mess that is my brain. Prepare for a deep heart-to-heart. …which is more like a heart-to-screen since I am doing this to clear my head and to maybe put things in perspective for myself and others who may be feeling the same way.

Today, university and life-in-general slapped me in the face and I pondered what would happen if I decided to put my degree on hold–I don’t know, maybe say: take a year off, go abroad, discover myself, you know before dumping thousands and thousands of dollars into the ocean. My rational voice is reassuring me that would be the most idiotic thing I could possibly do. I worked so hard to get to where I am. I would disappoint so many people. I would let so many people down. But my instinctual voice is pleading me to take better care of myself, be happier and be more stress-free. There has to be a good way to find balance right? Balance either makes or breaks a photograph. How do I find a better perspective?

So, what is it that sparked this revelation you might ask? It was just one lab that I had today that left me genuinely unhappy. Study habits in university was definitely a hard adjustment and I still do not have it down. Since the “smart asian girl” is a dime a dozen, I beat myself up about doing something “extra”, going that extra mile. But doing things systematically is what everyone is doing–studying through the night, getting that exec position within a student club, volunteering at a hospital, working in your prof’s lab. At this rate, you can say goodbye to sleep, your social life, and your well-being. When I fail (like what happened in my lab today), is when I wonder if it it all worth it, what makes me different from the next student here? As I realized I can never match any of the students here, I started to think that all these qualifications are so objective. I believe creativity is what separates individuals. This reminds me of what one of my favourite professors said to me about writing essays. He said that “everyone has the same tools and resources, you just have to think outside the box.” When you process this in your own life, it becomes an inspiring statement. Needless to say he is my favourite professor I have had to this day. I guess I also always loved writing, but blogging is a new style of writing that I discovered I love.

Sometimes I daydream about my fairy-tale life, what it would be like to be able to do what I love while supporting myself and everyone I love…and to not be judged for not have a “real job”. I call this judging process the “you didn’t get into med school” phenomenon. People who are bombarded with this message might not be making a ton of money but the are 100%  happy with themselves and there lives despite the fact that they don’t have the credentials to prove it. I feel like this cruel pitfall is holding me and thousands of other people back because it is these objective qualifications that end up defining who we are to future employers. It should be our true self that is nurtured, persevered, and shown to the world. I am envious of the people who turned their creative passion into a successful career and continue to hold their head high. I know these people are not perfect, but we can all dream. Frankly, I don’t know what is it that truly makes me happy, but I do know being anxious 24/7 is not healthy. Turning your passion into your career is a tale as old as time, but the idea is very intriguing. Life is short, shouldn’t we be choosing cooperation over competition,  happiness over hate?

A good message I have come across says that to be confident you need to accept yourself for all that you are strengths, weakness, everything. This is hard because, conquering those demons that cause you to dwell on the negative things and compare myself to others in your mind is a daunting task.  They say, “a man’s worst enemy is himself”. My relationship with my own demons has been a constant roller coaster of ups and downs. Sometimes I fell feel super confident and able to bash away any negative thoughts, while other times I feel like a fish out of water. For now, I am just taking things one day at a time and making sure I have a little time for myself and to recharge. I truly believe that you have to take care of home before impressing the streets.

I don’t really know what the point of this post was really. I just wanted to clear my head. If you have made it this far, then well…cue the applause because this was a hella long blabber about my worries. Thank you taking the time to read this. I hope that this was insightful. : )


Bonnie x