Why I’m Done With Success


In my sophomore year of high school, I had to give a speech about any word in the English language. The word I chose was “success.” In that speech, I talked about how you can measure success in so many different ways, and how everyone has his or her own idea of the word. It was some deep shit for a summer class. And like most assignments in school, I got an A on that speech.

I never realized why I chose that word out of all the words I could have used. But sprawled across my IKEA couch, eating ice cream from the carton, binging on Keeping Up With the Kardashians from the first season (yeah, please judge me for that last one), I get it. For 22 years, I defined myself by my successes and failures—and to be completely honest, I didn’t fail all that often.

Up until the day I was handed my fancy, private school, college degree, I always had a plan. I moved from one goal to the next—checking off the things I wanted to accomplish. It came naturally for me. Success was not necessarily money or accolades, but watching myself move down the path I had always envisioned.

I am three months out of college, three months into my new “real life,” and I no longer know who I am. At 23, I have to find some new way to define myself that is not based on accomplishments. That is really fucking hard and really fucking scary.

I’m in that mind numbing post grad hell called “funempolyment.” My best friend moved back home.

Job interviews are a constant stream of “no” and “we have another candidate in mind.” While all my friends go to work, I sit in my empty apartment that I was once so excited to have. Now, it is just a reminder that I have bills to pay, and a bank account that is empty. I tried to use this time to at least find a boyfriend. He liked romantic comedies, and tacos, and looked a little like Miles Teller. After two months, he turned out to be a frat bro who just stopped responding to my texts.

I’ve got no plan, no next steps, no blue print. I spend most of my time trying to ignore the fact that I feel like I could simultaneously burst into tears and throw up. I so badly wish that another word had stood out to me when I gave that speech. I wish I could have been the girl who talked about serendipity or perseverance. But I’m not.

I know it’s temporary. I know this is a blip on my timeline. But right now, I am literally and figuratively at the bottom of my ice cream carton. The person I’ve sculpted myself into, and the life I strive for, cannot exist with so many failures. I wish I had gotten an F on that speech…maybe I would have learned to define myself a little differently.