Last year, I was checking in for a laser hair removal appointment. She wore stylish glasses and her nails were all glammed up, the work she had done on her face evident.
She asked me what I was studying. After I proudly told her that I was a Religion & Culture major, disapproval colored her face as she asked me what I planned on doing with that. “I want to be a teacher or a professor,” I told her. She glanced at my mom, and told her that she’d raised a dummy.
I was dumbfounded. Who was this person giving unsolicited opinions? Who asked her?
I’m a confrontational person who doesn’t tolerate disrespect like that toward me, and especially not against people I care about. Yet, I stood frozen and simmered in anger as I took in what she said.
I’m so sick of society over-prioritizing how much money someone is going to make as a sign of success. Of course, wealth can be an indicator of financial success for everyone and even of general success for certain people. But it doesn’t determine life success for everyone, including myself.
Wealth doesn’t measure happiness – and to me, being successful means to be happy. It means to have a career which you value, as long as you are able to secure yourself financially. It means to have time to do the things you love and maintain the relationships that are important.
And having a large amount of wealth doesn’t guarantee or equate to someone’s happiness. It doesn’t automatically mean that someone is rich in contentment like they should be. I know that many people enjoy the 9 to 5 office jobs in which they may make a considerable amount of money. Or perhaps the rewards they receive from those jobs help them live their best life, even if they don’t exactly enjoy their job.
I am not trying to bash those who utilize their wealth toward their happiness. Rather, my point is that wealth isn’t the only way or the “right” way to determine happiness and success.
Although I’m not a hundred percent sure about what I’m going to do with my life, I know that I’ll strive to be happy. Like I mentioned before, going into academia sounds like a dream- I love the idea of intellectual stimulation in a classroom. Being a teacher would be extremely rewarding as well- the feeling of helping my students achieve in their education would give me a priceless sense of accomplishment. Opening and owning a coffee shop is also something I dream of. It would be amazing to have a career where I constantly interact with people and bond with them. I may not know what I will exactly choose, but these dreams feel big enough for me.
I feel like society today, particularly in the Desi and American cultures I grew up in, is hyperfocused on equating success to wealth and high business positions. People can be just as successful in operating a small business since they can be just as happy as long as they’re enjoying what they do. In other words, you don’t have to be part of a large, corporate business or company to be successful.