What defines success for you? Is it a white picket fence paired with a fulfilling career, or is it fame and a lot of money? While the definition of success looks different for everyone, it often changes according to current situations.
Prior to university, I would have said success was in relation to happiness, but this soon changed. Perhaps UC Berkeley is just a stark contrast to my world back home. From LinkedIn profiles to the fear of falling behind compared to my peers, the word “integrity” often haunts my everyday actions. It’s like having an angel and devil on each shoulder: an angel for integrity and a devil for the lack thereof.
This analogy of angels and devils was said in an episode entitled “Integrity” from Emma Chamberlain’s podcast “Anything Goes.” This episode alone trapped me in a labyrinth of thoughts. As university students with numerous opportunities within reach, there’s a lot of pressure set before us. Finding a career that’s passion-filled with a good salary is all one could ask for, right? Being able to support our most cherished people and paying off loan debt is another.
There are steps we must take in order to achieve these goals, though. Gaining experiences through internships, organizations, jobs, clubs etc., all the while gathering enough credits to graduate. However, what devils could you possibly run into along the way? Taking the easy way out on exams. Engaging in forced conversations for the sake of a connection. What corners are you cutting for that red-ribboned view of success?
Perhaps I’m naive, and the lack of morality among ambitious college students isn’t that bad; however, it’s worth investigating for yourself. I say this because I myself have been observing my own actions. I’ve noticed that, with each time that I’ve avoided a certain situation or an opportunity, there was a time I said “no” to the devil on my shoulder. As individuals with the immense privilege of education, our moral compass should be positive.
While it’s easier said than done, our morals don’t have to become malleable simply because opportunities arise. Saying “no” when a position doesn’t quite fit our ideals is valid. Sites such as LinkedIn profiles and the competition that’s tied with them can be dismantled if integrity remains intact.
After all, we all come from unique and distinctive backgrounds. Oddly enough, there’s a story behind every success story. Within our Western culture, the glitz and the glamor heavily outshine the steps they took to achieve. Frankly, the story itself is just as important — if not more. With that said, the comparison with others is humane but unnecessary. Listen to the angel on your shoulder: You might learn more about yourself if you do.