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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Success...?

This was a post I wrote last November and never published because it seemed to add little to the age-old question, but in retrospect, and at the beginning of a very busy semester, I think it is an appropriate time to ask some questions like these:
A couple of interesting conversations I've had this weekend have prompted me to really reconsider what I personally define as success, for myself. I think that sometimes what's easiest to say and what sounds good or right is not really what we feel inside: though I may say, and truly want to believe, and sometimes do believe, that I am comfortable with my academics being less than stellar because I have chosen to spend my time here in other ways, I know that a little part of me is disappointed whenever I see my transcript and wonders if I have sacrificed or compromised my future goals in some way for something I can't even put my finger on. I think this is true for many who enjoy their academics, but feel that their devotion to other causes, which may be equally or more important to them, make it impossible to learn and perform as they know they could.

So. How do you define success? How should we define success at Harvard? Do we lie to ourselves on the surface to relieve the stress or burden we may feel to do something big or achieve a certain level or result or make change, but by denying what we feel inside, do we do ourselves greater injury? Is it possible to turn an entire college of overachieving do-it-alls into satisfied and occasionally mediocre people? ...how?

6 Comments:

At 10:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

success=happiness that does not come at the expense, direct or indirect, of anyone else's general welfare.

it really is that simple.

 
At 11:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm afraid we're never going to be successful then...

Indirect expense of anyone else's general welfare? There's no such thing as a clean dollar, and I'm pretty sure you use at least a few on a daily basis. At some level, just about anything could be stretched out to be linked to indirectly impact, for the negative, someone's "general welfare."

 
At 12:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

well then, to be successful we have to start by cleaning all those dollars n'est-ce pas? :)

 
At 12:30 AM, Anonymous Voltaire said...

cultivate your garden

 
At 1:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Success is in discovering yourself, your limitations and reconciling with and maximizing that. It is not necessarily height of lazy happiness or muscled achievement.

 
At 6:50 PM, Anonymous Susan Y. said...

Not sure this is relevant to other comments people have posted, but I must say I've had similar feelings as Deb's, namely that maybe my grades aren't as good as they could be if I spent less time on my extracurriculars (or cared more about academics at all). I don't have a huge problem with it, though, because I pursue my passions and am worrying about real problems in the world, not doing everything I can to improve my academic grade. I guess I just hope law schools which supposedly require 3.8 GPAs don't hold that against me, I'm not changing my priorities anytime soon, and I don't think there's anything wrong with that.

Cheesy way of putting it: success = follow your dreams!

The world of academia should help us solve problems in and acquire knowledge about the "real world". I think there can and should be a convergence between extracurriculars and the classroom. When grades start becoming an end unto themselves, something is wrong.

As for changing people's priorities, that's a whole other ballgame...

 

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