We often hear the stories of those who made it big through their hard work and determination in the academic and professional field. But why is it that when we tell the stories of artists, singers, and explorers we tell them as stories of entertainment and amusement, but never as stories of success? Has the definition of success become too narrow for the 21st century child?
Success can be defined in two ways: a person or thing that achieves desired aims or attains prosperity, or the attainment of popularity or profit. While some may perceive these definitions as being interchangeable, they are drastically different.
The first definition values one’s ability to achieve their goals, while the latter focuses on the gain of profit and recognition. The problem lies not with the definition that is most commonly referred to, but rather the definition that is most commonly applied onto today’s youth.
Walk onto any high school campus. If you were to ask the students what determines whether or not they are successful you would most likely grow tired of hearing about high GPAs, test scores, athletic abilities, and acceptances to four-year institutions after high school.
We have grown accustomed to hearing our students talk about how they can become successful through these fields, but why is it that we are thrown off when we hear some students talk about success in art or music? We have taught our students that to be successful they must be athletic, and if not athletic, then superiorly intelligent. We are raising a generation of bookworms and are weeding out our artists and explorers. We teach our students not to waste time on their dreams of being the next Andy Warhol or William Clark.
The next time we want to define success, we should remember to encompass all realms of the job market. Although some jobs may seem unconventional or “unrealistic,” there will always be people who will be pioneers in that field and make themselves successful outside o f normal standards.