When I was 12, I thought that I would be married by 22, have kids by 24 and have a full-fledged upward trajectory of a career by 30.  You always see those drawings of how people view success (a straight line upwards) versus how success actually is (a ton of squiggly lines back and forth) and you think “yup I can totally understand that”. However, understanding it and living it are two very different things.

So far in my twenties I’ve had several of the biggest roller coaster rides of my life.

  1. I started grad school in biomechanics knowing full well that it wasn’t something I was interested in.
  2. I quit grad school because (1)
  3. My world fell apart because school was everything I had and quitting sent me into a downward spiral of depression
  4. I got my first real job out of school
  5. I got engaged
  6. Left my first real job after 3.5 years
  7. Got my second real job

As I get older, I notice that my priorities have slowly shifted, a couple of years back I was determined that I was meant for something greater (career wise), I was convinced that I had a calling in life and I had to find it to make my life worthwhile. As the years went by and my work routine set in that determination to find my calling at work turned into a determination to look within and better understand myself.  Growing up I was always chasing the next achievement, the next win, I never let myself stop and celebrate or to take in what I truly accomplished.  I always lived in the future and never let my present self catch up to enjoy the moment. I was missing out on all the special people and things in my life, I was simply missing out on life.

So yes success is not a straight line it requires work, trial and error and persistence, but it’s also important to remember that success comes in many forms. Just because you don’t fit in the social norm of being “successful” doesn’t mean you’re not. I would rather have things that bring me intrinsic happiness than to chase extrinsic goals (fame, wealth, status) because if you’re working only for money you’re always going to be poor.