Thoughts on measuring success
This is a highly subjective topic. What determines a successful person, a successful life? I don’t know, personally. Quite frankly, I haven’t figured it out yet. I suspect not living a life in pursuit of happiness, rather, actually finding it before retirement age would be highly influential. This isn’t about me, however. It’s about Mom and Dad.
Today, my little sister graduates from college. That makes four out of four. Furthermore, two of us will have graduate degrees in a short time as well. I don’t know how my parents will decide whether or not they’ve lived successful lives. Paying a ton of money for pieces of paper with their children’s name on them is arguably not a deciding factor alone. However, Mom & Dad provided an environment where our success or failure would result from our own ambition, or lack thereof. While college was expected it certainly was not a given. Nothing was. Four kids on a modest single-income; hell, surviving four kids alone should be considered success, especially with an ass like me in the mix! Rather, I see our college education only as quantifiable pieces evidence they did things right.
While I’m on the topic of jocking Mom & Dad, there’s another product of their environment, which otherwise may go unnoticed or be seen actually as a failure in other families: We are all free-thinking, open-minded individuals, and on all sides of the spectrum. I think it’s far too easy to raise a mini-me, a clone who thinks exactly like you, perhaps institutionalized with whatever ideology you follow; that’s parenting cop-out. For instance, my parents are what I would consider hardcore catholic conservatives (I’m complimenting here so I’ll leave it at that). We were brought up through the church but only in a way that allowed us to make our own choices later in life. I certainly won’t speak for my brother and sisters but let’s just say I’ve chosen a belief structure outside of any religious parameters. Politically, we’re just as different. Of course, not to speak for the others, I will say between the six of us (Mom/Dad/kids) we cover every base and then some. As I said, there are many who would judge this result as failure. Failure to some bogus obligation to inundate your kids with whatever philosophy because that’s what YOU believe to be right. I call that a failure. If you are an exact carbon copy of mom and dad, they failed. I’m sorry, that’s ultimately my point here. It’s the fact that we are so different, both from each other and from them. We’re educated [in our way of judging, see note below] via our values, hard work, and discipline. These points, collectively, equal success in my book.
So, Mom and Dad, you did it right. Thank you!
***As a side note, please let me make it abundantly clear I do not consider the fact that we attended college, albeit a wee bit later for myself, as a measure of success. I would be typing out the very same post if pops was a tradesman of any sort and we followed in the same or a different trade; if they operated a store or restaurant and we did the same or had our own small business aspirations, etc. The idea is that they fostered the environment for opportunity. Just so happened for us, it was school.***