What Success Is

“Well, bless my soul
You’re a lonely soul
‘Cause you won’t let go
Of anything you hold
Well, all I need
Is the air I breathe
And a place to rest
My head.”
-OneRepublic, “Say All I Need”
It seems like everybody wants to be rich and prosperous. It’s the American Dream. Just look and listen. People are killed or injured on Black Friday (ironically the day after we give thanks for what we have) trying to scramble for better, bigger deals. Cozy homes are demolished and replaced by mansions. There is constant griping about taxes, stocks, and the economy. As a society, we are constantly bustling, at a breakneck pace, up the golden staircase towards success.
I feel like an outsider, sitting at the bottom of that staircase and gazing at the sky. My sky doesn’t glitter with the stars of ambition. It isn’t painted with fantasies of money and extravagance, no; my sky is vast and clear. It is a mirror of the free life I dream of living. I want time to wander about, to leave home not knowing where I’m going or when I’ll come back. I want mornings for my slumber, days for my writing, and nights for my pondering. I will never be rich and glamorous, and I will never embody the American Dream, but my soul will be filled beyond measure, overflowing with a satisfaction that cannot be found at the top of a golden staircase.
The staircase, in all truth, leads to nowhere. With each stair step climbed, another is created. The success it offers does not exist. It is cannot be satisfied by tangible means. It’s a subjective fantasy, a mental construct that both taunts and entices. Society pants for success, but its inflated image of what success actually is is what’s starving them. It’s never satisfying. People fill their bellies with more emptiness.
They’re hungry for immaterial things–love, meaning, companionship, and happiness. Everybody has a cavernous void of need within them, and the truest, most beneficial journey of self-preservation is learning to fill it. A need for friendship cannot be satisfied with money. A lack of meaning cannot be filled with promotions and vacation houses. Those desires call for reflection and evaluation. What do they really want? Why do they want it? How can they truly feel fulfilled? Abandoning the dependency on money and material possessions brings peace for a lonely heart, and searching one’s heart brings serenity to a chaotic life.
I am a girl who wants an honest existence, a girl who creates her own American Dream. I do not ache for glitz and glamour. I am whole in myself. I am at peace with my mind and my needs. What greater success is there than what lies within self-revelation, simplicity, and personal meaning? I cannot think of anything else that is capable of filling the soul’s void.

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