On Success And What It Means To Me

A recent situation albeit disappointing, inspired me to reflect on success and what it really means to me. If I were to define success based on what was fed into me when I was growing up, I would say that success means having a degree and a title (i.e Doctor, Engineer), earning lots of money, getting married to a rich man, having children, owning a big house and a luxurious car, and acquiring expensive clothes, shoes and handbags. But that was and I believe still is the society's definition of success. Definitely not mine.

As I grew older, I learned how to look at success more subjectively. Hence, I redefined my definition of success. For me, success begins with intentions. When I was a little girl, I wanted to become a doctor so I can put up my own hospital and work for the UN. I can vividly recall telling my mother I wanted to build a free hospital for the least fortunate people. I remember my mother asking me how would I become rich if I did that?! But God knows, becoming rich was not my intention at that time. Then I took up nursing because I wanted to help other people, and I believed that nursing was the easiest way for me to help my family.

I wasn't born rich, nor did I grow up with a lot of money. In fact, there was a time when my brother and I were young, we ran out of rice to cook for dinner and our mother had to ask from our neighbours. That night is forever etched in my memory because I saw my mother cry so hard because she was refused help. Seeing my mother so helpless and worried that my brother and I would not eat that night inspired me to study harder. I promised myself that this situation will not happen to my family ever again. 

Of course there were people who doubted me and looked down on me. There were people who refused to help me attain my goals. There were people who wronged me along the way. But my intentions remained the same- to help my family and least fortuntate people. Never did it cross my mind to get back at those people who belittled me and didn't want me to succeed. Promise. Instead, I tried very hard to help the least fortunate ones. Through my mother, I helped fund some kids' school fees- from grade school to secondary school, some even to college although not fully. Our house was always open to anyone who needed help. I remember my mother lending money to some people and never getting her money back. Although this may not have been a big deal for some people, I was happy that my family was able to help other people when they needed help the most. And this to me, has been one of my successes in life. 

As a nurse, I worked my way up to becoming one of the many senior leaders in healthcare. At first, I thought that I would only be successful in my career if I moved up the ladder. Until about five years ago when I realised that my success should not merely depend on what I have achieved, but on the person that I have become in achieving my goals. 

I am successful because I love what I do- not just for my patients, but most importantly for the people I work with. Through the years, people have said how I inspired and motivated them to be better, not just as nurses but as people. Just recently, someone told me that she aspires to be like me. Being able to influence people positively is more important to me than titles, positions and material posessions. 

I am successful because I remain grateful to those who were instrumental in getting me to where I am today. Those people who lent money to my mother when she ran short, so she could pay for my tuition fees. The people who bought vegetables from me when I was a little girl, even if they didn't need them. My uncle who edited my thesis. The person who provided me with shelter when I needed it the most, even if it meant I had to sleep on the floor for months. My relatives abroad who gifted us with imported goods- because if it were not for them, we would not have known how spam or hersheys tasted like. Those people who pushed me and continued to believe in me even if I didn't believe in myself. The people who provided me with words of wisdom, who gave me hope when all I wanted was to give up and those who simply praised me when I was doing well and encouraged me when I was failing. Words are sometimes more helpful and powerful than anything tangible. Those things, no matter how small, were very helpful to me. As Tesco's theme says, "Every Little Helps". I can go on and on with all the little help that I received throughout my journey in life, however one blog entry will not be enough, so perhaps I will stop here for now.

I don't think I would be able to call myself successful if I didn't fail multiple times. Failure has been a big part of my success. Because if I didn't fail, I wouldn't have learned how to rise up. I wouldn't have learned the most valuable lessons that helped me become the person that I am today. 

Success, I learned through the years, is also measured by the kind of people you choose to surround yourself with, and the people you choose to influence your life. I am confident to say that I am successful in this aspect because the people around me are the people who infuse positivity in me. They are the ones who influence me to become a better person. They are the people I know will never condone my wrongdoings.

Lastly, I believe that I am successful because wholeheartedly, no matter how far I go, I will never forget where I've come from. Humility taught me how to be more compassionate, kind and empathetic towards others. Besides, I've always believed that there will always be someone better than me and more successful than me, so what's the point of being proud and arrogant?



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