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So What If My Friends Have a Different Definition of Success than I? Don’t We All Succeed?

So What If My Friends Have a Different Definition of Success than I? Don’t We All Succeed?

Reena Tandon
  • I only realized what success meant to me when I continued exploring what I was inclined for. Not my parents, not my friends, but me.

My answer when anyone would ask me if I was successful, would be a predictable no. With 12 tryouts and 0 success, what else could I say? It made me think… was I ever going to be successful? Get a perfect sat score? Go to an Ivy? Or get my dream job? 

My head was spinning as I noticed how all my friends had already made impressive strides in their lives. One of my friends was in her 10th year of ballet and the other one had won at national Model Congress conferences. I had never done either of these activities, but in an attempt to feel “successful” I forced myself into them. 

My ballet classes started off and I simply went through the motions. We were asked to practice every day at home to refine the steps learned at class. Somehow, I couldn’t get myself to practice as I honestly thought the class was going on pretty well without it. I had even made friends and was well acclimated in my routine. After a few weeks of class, I started to realize that I was not really looking forward to the class. 

Not only that, I had the feeling that ballet was a fun activity, exhilarating and that if I loved ballet I could progress without much effort. At least, that’s the scene my friend had described to me. Then came the time for the final evaluations. So imagine my surprise when the last class day came and my teacher handed me the bright slip, which said I failed. 

My heart was not in ballet or model congress. I blindly followed my friends so I could also have a success story to share with them and my parents. 

I just assumed that ballet just was not this activity for me, and that I should just try something else. I bet you can guess what happened there… Model congress ended up going the same way. 

There was a clear pattern standing out from these 2 bitter experiences. My heart was not in ballet or model congress. I blindly followed my friends so I could also have a success story to share with them and my parents. I could talk about the number of cool friends I had made and how I was able to progress so quickly. But in the end, I burnt out because of the amount of performance stress and anxiety I was under. 

Through these experiences, I realized that I did more than just fail, I had succeeded in my own way. I only realized what success meant to me when I continued exploring what I was inclined for. Not my parents, not my friends, but me. 

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The next thing I tried was piano, something I had given up during my childhood, however, recently playing on my own had become a hobby. I started learning with an amazing teacher. I ended up playing during my free time too, and learned some new pieces of songs that I loved. Was it going to help me get into college, probably not, but it was something I enjoyed thoroughly and did well in. Somehow, I know that these failures gave me the invaluable tools necessary to move forward. 

So what if my friends have a different definition of success than I? Aren’t we all different after all? The world would be incredibly boring if we all liked to do the same job, or wear the same clothes or talk the same language. In the end, I found an activity I was passionate about and something that I could spend time enjoying. And to me, this is what success is. 


Reena Tandon is a passionate student, who finds comfort in art and music. Fond of communities and its people. Always in search of finding ways to enhance life in general.

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