One of the definitions the dictionary gives for success is “a person or thing that achieves desired aims or attains prosperity.” Let’s clearly pay attention to the keyword “desired” so clearly Webster, all us writing nerds clearly revere the dictionary gods, felt success is indeed measured in the eyes of the person. But I’m sure you’ve read many a piece discussing that.
My ponderance for this piece is rather if you don’t attain what you define as a success if your life a missed opportunity? If you establish these arbitrary success goals, shoot for them and miss what does that amount to in a life?
In an attempt to answer this question I look at some of my own definitions of success for myself to see where I land.
- Earn a career in professional baseball either as a player or journalist
It became pretty clear during my little league days that a professional playing career wasn’t in the cards. In all seriousness, have you seen me run? It’s somewhat less impressive than a young Forrest Gump running with his leg braces on. The journalism route had some promise as I did land some writing opportunities covering minor league baseball for a few summers. However, when I applied twice for an internship and various other major league baseball positions, I never got the call. My writing career did lead me to interview a dog, cover a high school prom, and special interviews of both a WWII and Vietnam vet.
- Earn a PhD and teach college
I did get the opportunity teach college when I was earning my master’s and it truly was an inspiring experience. In a classroom is a definite place I fit in and at least some students said I was pretty good at what I did. When it came time to apply to doctorate programs, I was given a flat out no by all the schools. It appears as maybe I’m not as nerdy as I think. Seeing all hopes of a professorship dashed, I found myself taking refuge in the only place I felt comfortable another college degree. Library school, yes it’s a real thing, was the next logical place to go with a background in history and English. I considered myself a bookworm, even if I didn’t really read all that much. I figured library degrees also included museums and archives and any career that could lead me to interact with dinosaurs didn’t sound so bad to me. As things turned out, I haven’t necessarily encountered dinosaurs in my job description yet but it could be a real possibility.
- Work at a job that allows me to make a difference
Okay, so you might think how can a librarian make a positive difference in someone’s life? And you’re right, I’m not going out on a daily basis and saving lives or performing some kind of positive life altering act in the library. I’ve always wanted to make a positive impact on the world and be able to look at something and be able to say that someone’s life is better thanks in some part to something I did. The crazy thing I’ve learned in my short time as a librarian is that by simply being nice to be people and helping them with their various questions, however simple they may be, makes their day better and in the end, isn’t that making a difference?
- Publish a book
While I am a writer, writing something for publication has never really been something I’ve felt confident I could do, but of course, I’d love to see people enjoying something I created. Ever since I was kicked out of AP Lit during high school because I didn’t possess good enough English skills to carry on in the advanced track I’ve had a complex when it comes to my writing. However, I did write a children’s book with a dinosaur, of course, which to me sounded like a fantastic idea. To date, not one agent has agreed to take a chance on mine, though to be fair this still has time to change. What I have learned out of the process so far is I can write a book. The few souls who offered feedback on my story thought it was cute so maybe there’s hope for me yet.
In the end, I really haven’t achieved any of the goals I set to call myself a success. Sure, this is disappointing, but at the very least each time I took a shot I found myself falling into something else at least. Life doesn’t seem so bad considering where I’m at compared to where maybe high school me saw myself. So I guess what I’m asking is are goals and success synonymous, what say you?