- November 4, 2020
The word success implies both a sense of achievement coupled with the notion of an ending. The macrocosmic view in which success can be viewed ignores the intrinsic details of the process. It is not a linear path, rather it can peak slowly or decline abruptly. I prefer to think of it in the form of a verb instead of a looming noun — the act of attempting to succeed over a beacon of success. I don’t tend to label my own experiences as successes, because that places emphasis on the destinations, not the journey.
Luck incited my current journey.
Let’s begin in London; freshman year, bright-eyed and eager to make the most of my year abroad. As an 18 year-old in an American school in the UK, my introduction to collegiate life allowed me a sense of frivolity to dabble in different industries, travel to nearby countries, and avoid the ominous planning of my future. That year, I put my DSLR to decent use and carved out my usual spots at the British Museum, the park across the street from the university, and a café (whose employees never understood why I would be named after confectionary). The thought of professional success seemed light-years away.
The semesters slipped by resulting in a university career split evenly between New York and London, numerous stamps in my passport, and a folder of internship ID badges in industries ranging from fine art to journalism to fashion to music to theatre. By graduation, a sense of failure felt imprinted on my resumé. Each internship I enrolled in showcased a series of careers that I did not want to pursue; ten jobs, all for naught. A small sliver of a throughline that I could find among my experiences was the notion of storytelling — or being able to sell something.
Marketing felt like an obvious next step, but my lack of direct professional exposure and fear of entrapment in a career I would grow to detest placed me in a stalemate. Your professional status should not be the end-all be-all of your existence, but oftentimes that’s how it feels. Since school was my primary constant in life, I returned to my safe haven as a graduate student. I found myself in London once more, aiming to add Master’s of Science to my title. However, British university invoked the deepest feeling of imposter syndrome that I had endured thus far. Gone were the frolicking and ease of freshman year, replaced with a litany of concepts, like “decolonization,” “post-colonial theory,” and the “Global South.” My classmates and I steeped in stimulating conversation and nurtured critical thought, with professors having no hesitancy to question, push, and correct us. Never before had I felt so pressed to truly consider my intent with language, leading me to now, disputing this notion of success.
Luck was my catalyst, but these anecdotes are not only an amalgamation of my experiences, they form a map of happy accidents that incited my current realization: I want to be an interdisciplinary educator. Now, if that changes in the future, I’m fully prepared to take my fate as it comes; however, each of these failures or supposed dead ends in my journey has resulted in a path I am extremely proud of. An evolution of interests and passions can lead us to a greater result than we had previously imagined.
My adult life has been a series of happy accidents that have cohesively drafted themselves into my ongoing narrative. Everything is still a work in progress, and success is not a singular point, rather a multitude. I want to look back on my life and see it as one great success totaled by many happy accidents, some of which have yet to come.