Success is subjective. To some, it means financial stability. To others, happiness. We are lucky to be able to live in a world in which we can strive to attain both. In fact, due to the increase of studies on the importance of happiness in the last few decades, success, to many, has become a mixture of obtaining financial stability and happiness. However, such a definition of success implies that if you’re not happy, you’re not successful. And in a pre-professional environment like NYU’s — in which ambitious students strive to always get ahead — that can become a problem.
It’s okay to be ambitious. Many NYU students have internships — sometimes even two — and are working on their fifth documentary or on other equally demanding projects. With such amazing accomplishments, it is no surprise that NYU students pride themselves on their successes in their professional lives. But there also seems to be a need to boast about weekend plans or other aspects that make us happy outside of our professional lives. An avenue through which we can achieve this is social media. With Snapchat and Instagram stories in existence, we can showcase our happiness by recording and displaying it to the world. These features are not inherently dangerous unless we start to derive happiness from the amount of views and likes that we get on social media instead of actually being happy.
We have the power to filter what we post. In order to reinforce our success, we only post what we want others to see: moments of happiness. Nearly everyone does this, and as a result of this curation we are stuck in a toxic cycle — one in which we believe that everyone around us is happy and as a result, we feel even worse when we have unhappy moments. This is again a result of the pre-professionalism that plagues NYU. In an environment that puts so much emphasis on getting ahead, feeling unhappy can create the perception that one is falling behind in cultivating their success.
We need to understand that it is okay to have those days in which our biggest accomplishment is getting out of bed. That doesn’t make anyone any more or less successful. Success is not a goal but rather a constant process, as every person continues to grow into better versions of themselves. Ultimately, by entrapping ourselves in this toxic cycle that only creates a facade of happiness rather than the true substance, we zero in on what is causing frustration in our lives. When people fail to genuinely appreciate the good moments in their lives and instead just exploit them for likes to be successful on social media, they cheapen the moments worth cherishing the most.
Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, October 31st print edition. Email Veronica Liow at [email protected]