How Does Success Look Like

Do you know what success is? How do you know if you’re successful? What does success look like? Read to find out. 


“You’ll never amount to much.” said my moral subject teacher in front of the class.

“You’ve got so many As, why would you even want to take on mass comm?” said a ‘friend’ during a group lunch.

“With your small background, you’d be lucky to receive even just one scholarship.”

said the admin from the scholarship department on the phone. 

I won’t lie — these words cut deep. But these words have contributed to my resilience over my formative years since high school and early years of college. I made sure to prove wrong to everyone who doubted me and that I’ll be a successful person. And hey, I got accepted for all three scholarships I applied for and my media studies got me to where I am today — doing something I enjoy — writing.

But as I kept going, I never really stopped to think about my successes. I never really considered my small achievements as successes but rather they were the stops that were necessary to achieve the ‘great success’ — whatever that is. I was running and chasing an idea of success that’s probably not mine. I never stopped to ponder what success is to me and I wonder when I’ll achieve this elusive success. Well, not until lately — quarter-life crisis is no joke.


Am I successful yet? How do I know when I am?


Before I tell you what a wise friend (thanks, Nadya) told me about what success is, what comes to mind when you think of ‘success’? Is it popularity? Money? Power? Something more? We think that that’s what everybody wants. What you may or may not realise is, success looks different to different people. What you think is success may not be what your friends or family think it is. Hence it’s important for you to outline your own meaning of success.

With social media, it’s easy to confuse someone else’s success to be yours. Perhaps you see a friend sharing their brand new iPhone on their stories and think “Wow, they must be successful to be able to afford that.” This, my friend, is called social comparison which could potentially lead to social anxiety.


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


Then you begin to compare and think why don’t you have a brand new iPhone yet and begin to question what you could’ve done differently or where you’ve gone ‘wrong’? But truth is, it could be simply because you don’t think it’s necessary to fork out your allowances for a split second of gratification since your phone is still pretty much functional. And more importantly, your idea of success isn’t owning the latest phone — it’s something else, like saving up and investing for the future or owning minimal things so you can travel easily and be on the go. 

Social media is a great amplifier of someone else’s success. And it’s easy to get lost in others’ idea of success especially if every other scroll or tap on the screen is someone shouting out their achievement. And soon you find yourself reaching out for that brand new iPhone to fit in. But… that’s not who you are — so snap out of it because like what many studies can tell you, social media isn’t an accurate portrayal of reality.


“A virtual life is shiny and bright. It’s where you post your prettiest pictures and tell all your best news.” Sherry Thomas, INSIGHT Magazine says.


Get yourself a piece of paper, a journal, whatever, and envision your personal idea of success — small, big, short, or long-term, put it all out in front of you.

Anddddd before you do that, let me save you some time and tell you that your success doesn’t have to be monumental nor extravagant for it to count. It also doesn’t have to be monetary nor status-related. You don’t need to win the Olympics, open a start-up, or earn a million bucks by 30 to be successful.

We’re so fixated on the big pictures that we forget to appreciate the little moments in life that bring just as much joy to us. Your personal growth is as important if not more, as growing your wealth or status.


“To live the lives we truly want and deserve, and not just the lives we settle for, we need a Third Metric… a third measure of success that goes beyond the two metrics of money and power, and consists of four pillars: well-being, wisdom, wonder, and giving.” — Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington


Success is not a one-time destination — it’s a continuous journey of learning and growing.  It’s a train that stops at every station but still constantly moves forward to its next destination. Success doesn’t always end on a spotlighted stage. You don’t always get a medal for it but the satisfaction of knowing you made it is more than enough. Whatever your success is, always remember to take the time to acknowledge it, be thankful, and reward yourself for having made it. And if you don’t succeed, pat yourself, because your ‘failure’ has built resilience. And resilience is necessary for success.


“I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.” Thomas Edison


I’m no millionaire with properties all over the state. I’m not on the Top 30 under 30 on Forbes’ list. But to me, success is measured not only by wealth but by how much resilience you’ve shown. Every single block you tumbled and everyone you’ve proven wrong is a success worth celebrating. So here’s to you kicking ass and taking down every barrier that comes your way.


With that, yes, I do think I’m successful. Do you think you’re successful?

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