How do you measure success? It may depend on how you were brought up or the environment in which you grew as a child. Which were applauded the most? Achievements or participation. Effort or result. It could have been a healthy combination. I am privileged and blessed to have been raised by parents who I like to describe as open-minded optimists but strict perfectionists in their own way. They supported and push my brothers and myself to hold high standards and work hard to uphold them. Growing up in primary (grade) school, we would strive to be top of the class. For me, it offered a sense of accomplishment and confidence in my ability to retain and apply what I was taught and what I learned.

I don’t remember being coaxed or coerced into studying or being promised material rewards for academic achievements. I don’t know, maybe as a toddler I may have been cajoled into learning some basic life skills as all parents do with the tiny ones. My parents gave me the tools to think for myself and rate my own successes. I am not sure how they did it, but they were able to wean us from being dependent on them for endorsements and approval at a very early age. We were able to define what success meant to us very early and we took ownership of our journeys. We learned how to set precise goals, such as the schools we wanted to get into, and how to work tirelessly for the good grades. It was not that serious or that big of a deal. Excellence was just a matter of fact. I make it sound easy, but it was not. I am truly grateful for my parent’s sacrifices and support.

However, there is one problem with being programmed to aim high and dream big and think for yourself. It is more painful when your efforts are not enough to get you where you envision. It is easy to beat yourself up and label your attempts as mediocre. You blame no one else but yourself for your shortcomings and in your low moments, disappointments hit hardest. Everything becomes a big deal. Serious business. There are so many variables and determinants of success especially with matters like growing in the career of your choice or pursuing a dream. For a good percentage of these moving parts, you have limited control over. Most of the time I look around at my circumstances and I don’t even try to put my best foot forward. I overthink everything.

Perhaps I need a little more of that child-like mindset of endless possibilities and positive expectations. Less of that adult pessimism and skepticism. I think I lost most of my childhood wonder and glee. Well, in these reflections, I hope to revive my childhood zest for limitless growth and simply believing in the impossible.

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