With A level and GCSE results day drawing upon us, it seems as if the successes of young people are determined, are defined, by grades. Children are expected to uphold the high standards that not only schools, parents, and the government put on them, but also, the pressure they put on themselves to succeed. But what is the definition of success? Is it defined by a number or a letter, or should it be determined by happiness, and health?
In the 21st Century we put so much pressure on ourselves to be something. With the media surrounding our lives, we cannot help but think that if we’re not talked bout, we’re nothing, we’re unsuccessful. Unfortunately, nowadays people live their lives to receive fame and stardom, yet fame isn’t what it makes it out to be. Take Robin Williams, or Kate Spade: on the surface they seemed successful, happy. They had money, fame, power, but it wasn’t enough. That small part of them below the shallow surface that was portrayed in the media was screaming to be let free, released but the cage was too strong, and despite their ‘success’, their lives were cut short; prime examples of the fact that fame and money don’t create happiness, nor success. But who makes us believe this? Society.
Society nowadays is influenced by social media, and unfortunately for our generation, it is extremely easy to share results, or see the national average, or comment on someone else’s achievements, whether it is good or bad. Social media has made it easier to compare ourselves to others. Whether it is on appearance, or holidays, or achievements, we cannot help but feel lesser than those we see posing in front of their £80,000 car or jetting off to their fourth holiday this year. Social media blurs the lines between reality and fantasy, and makes us believe that what we’re seeing is real, when most of the time it isn’t. We envy those who have everything, yet a picture, a single snapshot of someone’s life, their achievements, doesn’t tell the whole story. Young people today see these Instagram models earning thousands of pounds for posting one picture. They see the lavish lifestyles they lead, but that isn’t the whole picture. Social media has made it seem like success, money and fame are all easy to come by. Take Love Island, for example, contestants earn millions for just lying around in the sun all day. But take a doctor; it takes years of medical school, student loans, debt in order for them to even earn half of what these influencers are earning, yet they are saving people’s lives every day.
Success is commonly seen as how much money you earn. But according to Oxford dictionary, success is defined in two ways. The first being, the accomplishment of an aim or purpose. But the second being the attainment of fame, wealth, or social status. The difference between these two definitions is very fine, and due to the media’s influence, how we perceive success has been altered. Society has made us view our lifestyles, and achievements in a negative light, as we are constantly comparing ourselves to those we idolise, or envy. The meaning of these two definitions are dissimilar; one being a materialistic viewpoint, and the other being a personal accomplishment. We do things in this world to please people, whether it is our friends, family, Instagram followers, or our co-workers, but the one person we forgot to consider is ourselves. You may be in a well-paying job, or have the exam results, or the expensive car, but are you happy.
At the end of the day, success shouldn’t be defined by one factor. In fact, success should be a personal feeling, not something to flaunt with our peers. Success should be felt from within, and, despite popular belief, we shouldn’t start to indoctrinate our children into thinking that the only form of success is good grades, or a good job because success is more than that. Success is about happiness and how we view the world. Success is about morals and values, and the way we are treated, and treat others. So, what is the definition of success? Fulfilment.
First appeared in Grimsby Telegraph 6th August 2019
Written by Young Reporter Sophie Read