May 1, 2007

What defines success?

A friend during my graduate days IMd me today. I found out most of our former classmates are now professors. Of course, I was impressed and told him how successful they are now...which led him to say I'M successful because:
- I'm working in the US;
- I'm earning way more than them; and
- I'm happy with my job.

That's not to say he's not happy with teaching. He just wishes there was more money to be made.

I took up a postgraduate course and nearly finished it including the much-dreaded compre, except for the thesis. Then I went to the US for a vacation and found a job. The rest, as they say, is history.

When I was younger, I wanted to take up law. My dad's a lawyer, who didn't practice it. When it was time to finish my undergrad degree, some batch mates were contemplating law school. I wanted to work and earn my own money. I thought if law school was in the works for me, I'll land there eventually. It's been 12 years since I graduated. I worked in a legal office and worked for lawyers. That experience made me NOT want to be a lawyer. Yet I know that for a time, taking up law resurfaced in my mind. Heck, if those goof balls I worked for became lawyers, why not me? But good sense prevailed.

I never did get to finish my thesis, nor did I earn my graduate degree. I got my undergrad degree under my belt. Every now and then, I think of going to grad school here in the US. But I keep balking at the expense. Studying here costs an arm, a leg and even more. Practically everyone I know back home is in law school, just finished law school, taking up their grad/post grad degrees, but unable to find proper jobs. Ironically, most of them want to leave the country in search of the so-called "greener pastures".

Had I stayed in my country, I'm probably the head of communications for some non-profit or non-governmental organization. I wouldn't have gone for a government job or a corporate job. I'd probably have a fancy schmancy title, to boot. I would be SERIOUS, dammit, because of my title. I'll be working endlessly. Perhaps I'll be a communications consultant. Whatever that means. I know I'll definitely have some semblance of credibility because of my degrees. Perhaps I would be married with kids - trying to juggle everything.

Which leads me to more questions: would staying there have made me successful in my mind? Perhaps if I stayed, I would've wanted to go, in the same way that my friends want to search for greener pastures.

At the end of it, I am exactly where I am because of my decisions. I decide on how things will be and how things will turn out. Whether or not I'm successful is something I can only define for myself.


Lynn said...

Well, I DID tell you you'd probably be some bigshot over here if you stayed. That's not to say you would've been a happier person, though. If you stayed here, you never would've met Zack *nods8