I don’t mean to offend anyone’s lifestyle or life choices with this post. This is a subject that I have felt adamant about for years and I really feel the need to express my opinion about the matter.
In many societies (especially the United States) there seems to be a dictionary definition for success.
Success- [noun] one who has graduated high school, gotten married, bought a house, reproduced, held a stable job, and if lucky retired in good health.
For a second let’s picture two guys both in their 40’s. Guy #1 is single, has no kids, and lives in an apartment. Guy #2 is married, has three kids, and a nice two-story house in the suburbs with a stable job. Which lifestyle does society frown on? Guy #1. People will talk about Guy #1 in a negative way. What’s wrong with him? Why hasn’t he gotten married yet? Is he gay? He’s such a creep. He needs to settle down. Meanwhile, Guy #2 gets the praise. He’s an engineer, has a wife, three kids, a golden retriever, a white picket fence. Man is he lucky to be living the American Dream.
Why is this sort of judgment ok? Who’s to say that Guy #1 isn’t happier than Guy #2? Perhaps Guy #2 is miserable because he settled for the life everyone told him to live instead of deciding for himself. What if I said Guy #2 went into engineering not because he wanted to but because of the pay and the job security? Who are we to judge whether a person is successful or not?
I don’t have a problem with this lifestyle. I just have a problem with it being the set guideline to follow to be successful. You must get married at X age before you’re the last one of your group of friends to be single. You must have a kid. You must get a mini-van. It seems as if some people simply live this life because they were told to live this way. Not only do we blindly go along with it. We worship it.
The problem is our defining moments in life are things are easily achievable. Think about some of the more important events we celebrate in life. Birthdays, getting married, and having a kid. These are events that the majority of the population can and will experience in their lifetime. What makes these events so special? The sad truth is anyone can get married. The real question is are you willing to put in the effort to maintain that marriage? The vast majority of the population is capable of reproduction. What the vast majority of the population can’t do is raise a child in a way that they will be able to maximize their potential? These are the events that I want to celebrate.
Life is so much more than just getting married and living your life through your kids. No one should limit their selves to these boundaries of success. This may be the American Dream to some but it is not my dream. To me this sounds more like a nightmare. I don’t want to live the same life that millions of people have lived before. I’ve already heard and seen that life through my parents. I’ve already watched that life on T.V. It’s like reading a book you already know the ending to.
Again the point of this was not to bash a person’s lifestyle. I realize that I might have come off hypocritical and started judging people’s lifestyles myself. Truthfully, most people are happy with a life like this and that’s great. There’s nothing wrong with it I just wanted to point out that there are other ways to have a “successful” life. Don’t set imaginary deadlines for when you’re supposed to get married. Don’t pick a career solely based on income and job security. Live the life you truly want and only then will you be successful.
“Excellence is a better teacher than mediocrity. The lessons of the ordinary are everywhere. Truly profound and original insights are to be found only in studying the exemplary.” – Warren G. Bennis