What Constitutes Success?

12 Jan 2019 - Vivian Hir

As students, we are told to get good grades, study for tests, and take the most challenging classes. We admire and aspire to become the class valedictorian or salutatorian. Most of us predict that these people will become very successful in life ( I mean successful as in becoming a millionaire and famous in their field). However, my perspective about this changed after I read Eric Barker's Barking Up the Wrong Tree. Barker's book debunks common myths about success. In the beginning, he mentions how according to a university study, most valedictorians don't become millionaires*. At first, this was a surprise to me. How could it be these smart geniuses that don't become millionaires? He said that valedictorians follow the rules as I stated before and conform to society's expectations. Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, are supposed to break the rules and focus on their passion rather than becoming a generalist by taking every single hard class. In fact, the average GPA for an entrepreneur is a 2.9. This is not to say that every single entrepreneur was a bad student because some of them went to decent colleges. The point is that they were willing to take risks and not follow what society considered as normal. In reality, life is supposed to throw us some curve balls. It is not a planned out road.

Why I am mentioning this is because I have conflicting feelings about what I define as success. I find it quite ironic as my true thoughts don't align with my actions. I feel this self-fulfilling prophecy that because I am doing what everyone else is doing, I will be a normal person in life, working in an office and not necessarily contributing to society. I don't want to be that type of person, but my current actions reflect that because like many other students, I care a lot about my grades and try to take every single weighted class offered.

*I am not saying that valedictorians won't be successful in life. It is just that they have to understand that in real life, life rewards people that take risks and not follow the crowd.

Vivian Hir is a high school student who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her blogs can be found here. Constructive feedback is appreciated.