What The Hell Is Success Anyways?

By Amari D. Pollard

The subject of success has been on my mind for quite some time. It more than likely stems from my recent failures—it most definitely stems from my recent failures.

I finished writing my first novel when I was eighteen. That was a little over a year ago. Till this day, it is one of my most cherished “successes.” I’ve been trying to find an agent since for what seems like a century, but has only been one year. Before embarking on this journey I knew trying to get a book published would be hard, but I never expected it to be so emotionally draining.

Searching for an agent is like trying to land a boyfriend—I can’t seem to get one. I go on dates all the time, constantly. The boys show interest at first, but they never stay for too long, insisting that there just isn’t enough of a connection. I’m the perfect pitch, the perfect idea of a perfect girlfriend, but the idea of me is always better than the real thing. How clichéd.

While I haven’t lost hope in finding an agent and one day getting published (even if this book never sees the inside of a Barnes & Noble, I intend to continue writing, and not for the purpose of getting published but for myself), I have unfortunately started to question my book being considered a success.

But the real question is by whose standards?

I considered my book a success because I had written a book, a full-fledge YA novel of 67,000 words at the age of eighteen, and I thought it was pretty good for a first try. I had fulfilled something on my bucket list, something that some people never accomplish. While others may view this as an accomplishment as well, many (including some agents) would say the fact that I wrote a book is irrelevant. What good is a book if it’s not published? What good is a book if no one sees it besides a couple of people? If it just sits in your file collecting computer dust? I’d like to think it’s still important, to think the book still matters in some way. But sometimes believing in something when no one else seems to isn’t enough to keep it alive. I wish it were, but sometimes it’s just not.

When you think about it, this can be applied to anything in life. So often we base our success off of others’ ideas of success: our families, our friends, society. And by doing so, we forget to please ourselves, to celebrate what we consider victory.

Maya Angelou once said, “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”

I’m not entirely sure what I think success is. I’m not sure if I ever will be. But I do know that writing a book is an accomplishment for anyone, in and of itself. I know that pursuing what you love despite what people tell you and what you sometimes tell yourself is courageous and an accomplishment. I know I’m happy, that I’m the happiest when I write.

So I think I’ll have to stick with my original thought. I may not be the next John Green or Sarah Dessen, but I am successful.

And for all of you out there contemplating your successes, here’s a little advice: if your happy doing what you’re doing, don’t be afraid to call yourself a success, because in a world filled with bullshit, happiness is definitely an accomplishment.

Picture Courtesy of http://www.teehanlax.com

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