What is success?

Yeah, I posted this article on Facebook, with its irresistible headline, Want to Raise Successful Daughters? Science Says Nag the Heck Out of Them. And I made the requisite joke (“I’m on it”), because I have a daughter, and not surprisingly, she complains about my nagging. But can we get serious for a moment? The researchers’ definition of “success” is so far from mine I barely recognize it. (Fortunately, I’m not alone–all praise for Challenge Success!)

Sure I want our daughter to be able to stay employed, and I hope she doesn’t get pregnant until she wants to. But “attend college” and “have high-paying job” don’t even make it into my top ten wishes for her successful life. Here they are, in no particular order:

Be loving, my darling. You give your heart so readily. I hope you always do, even as you resist anybody’s attempt to take advantage of your openness.

Be happy, and be okay with not always being happy.

Take care of yourself, take care of others, let others take care of you when you need it.

Do something–lots of somethings–to make the world a better place for your having been in it.

Weep for the suffering in the world and rejoice in the beauty in the world.

Challenge yourself: learn things you didn’t know and try things that scare you. Don’t stop!

Be honest.

Don’t tolerate injustice, even when you aren’t the one getting the short end of the stick–do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Be courageous. Courage takes many forms, but often what will require the most bravery is questioning your own assumptions.

Wherever you glimpse meaning, pursue it wholeheartedly.

If along the way, you want to go to college, Mommy and I will help you do it, and if you want to get out of a job that others might call “dead-end,” we’ll be here to cheer you on. But I don’t give a rat’s patootie about job titles and diplomas. I will be happy and proud beyond words if you are successful in the ways I’ve just listed. If I ever nag you about lesser things, like making the honor roll or pursuing a promotion, do me a favor: just roll your eyes and show me this blog post.


One thought on “What is success?

  1. How interesting. Because I always thought that I would have successful children if they were nice, good in the world, served and helped other people, and we’re kind. The rest will come. But always do what you love because getting up in the morning to do something you don’t love makes life very difficult.

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