Success vs. Failure

What exactly determines if someone succeeds or fails? I was thinking about this a lot when I dropped out of my program at school. The perfectionist within me was trying to fight its way into my thoughts: “You couldn’t finish the semester. You failed.”

But then I thought about how the semester had actually panned out. I realized that even though I had not completed the arbitrary amount of assignments and testing, within the pre-ordained time frame constructed by the educational institution, that I had still gained valuable knowledge.

I learned how to carry out range of motion exercises, and with that skill, I am healing and strengthening my previously injured shoulder. Even though I have not “achieved” the title of a physiotherapy assistant, no one can take this learned skill away from me – and that, I think, is a success in itself.

I think that we let society colour our views of what is successful or not. The criteria for what constitutes success is externally determined.

You got fired? Failure.

Got lower than 50% on a test? Failure.

Your partner dumped you? Failure.

The whole way it’s set up negates any actual benefit that was gained by these so called “failures” and doesn’t really look at how these “failures” could actually be a form of letting something go to make room for something better.

What I have been striving to do is really examine what success and failure mean to me, thus switching it to an internal and personal focus, rather than what society labels as successful. For example, today I got out of bed, showered, made a healthy breakfast, and then felt so tired after all of that so returned back to bed. I had planned to go for a walk, practice yoga, and do laundry as well, but I don’t see not completing those tasks as a failure. Instead, I see that I listened to my body and was intuitive enough to realize that my body needs more rest – and that my friends, is my definition of success.