Why I Don't Want Success At Age 23

by Caitlin Jill Anders

I'm 23 years old and I'm feeling the pressure to make something of myself. I know, I know -- I'm still young. I've only been legally drinking for two and half years. I still pay to have my laundry done. The idea of doing my own taxes scares the crap out of me.

There shouldn't be any rush. I have so much time.

However, not everyone around me seems to have been copied on that same "we have so much time" memo. People my age, and even younger, seem to be killing themselves searching for success. Internships, networking and applying to 87 jobs a week can yield enough stress to bring about an ulcer.

"So and so" owned a company by age 25. That professional singer we all idolize made her first album at age 16. The MVP of the year has already made enough money to last his entire life and might retire soon, at barely 30 years old.

It's amazing. It's incredible. It's what we all strive for.

It's not what I want.

I don't want to be successful, yet. I mean, in some ways I do. I want the security success provides; the money that would allow me to take care of my family and keep everyone I love as comfortable as possible.

The freedom that would allow me to travel the world and see everything I've always dreamed to see.

The recognition that I did a good job and I'm worth something. We all want those coveted things brought on by success. I want them all, too. Eventually. But, it’s not time for all that yet.

If I woke up tomorrow with everything I've ever wanted, I'd be ecstatic. I'd write Facebook statuses thanking my newfound fans. I'd appear on talk shows to share my story with families around the world who turned on their kitchen TVs to watch while they made dinner or finished up work.

I'd go on shopping sprees with my new cash, and I'd become a constant supporter of my favorite charities. For a while, it would be marvelous. But, I'm 23. Soon, the dust would settle. Things would die down. I'd have everything I'd ever wanted, but nothing to work toward anymore.

I don't want to be successful yet because I'm still young. If I get everything I’ve ever wanted now, what would I do with the rest of my (hopefully) many years? Half the fun of being successful is the journey to get there.

Okay, maybe "fun" isn't the right word, as it's a journey filled with struggle. I'm currently super broke and I have no idea what my next move will be. To be recognized by even just seven and a half people, I'd have to work harder than ever before in my life.

The struggle, as we love to say, is very real. What's wrong with struggle, though? No one likes to go through it, but it undeniably makes us all stronger. There are some people who seem to not have struggled a day in their lives. Everything always came easy to them.

Some people may think these people are lucky, but not me. When the day comes (and it will come) for these people to work for something, it will be so much harder. They'll expect it to come easy and it won't. Then, they might stop trying, and that sounds terrible.

I never want to be someone who stops trying.

One of my best friends used to cry to me because he wasn't a famous singer yet — when he was 12. It was all he wanted in the world, and he wanted it immediately.

The struggles he would have to go through to get there seemed too great. It weighed down on him, and even though he wanted instant gratification, he knew that wasn't how it works.

Today, 10 years later, my best friend is still working toward his goal. He's been nearly homeless. He's had to work three jobs at once. He's getting there. When it finally comes, it will be the greatest feeling in the world because he will know what it took him to get there.

Being successful takes everything we have, and if it doesn't, it's not as much worth it.

I want success, but I want it to come when I truly know what it means. That's what I want everyone else to want, too. There's time. Breathe. I want to appreciate everything this life offers me, and I want to appreciate it to its fullest. I will have to work countless hours for the things I want.

It will be hard. At times, it will even be excruciating. Years from now, when I’ve made myself into whom I’ve always wanted to be, I’ll look back on this time in my life. I’ll think back to the adventures, the empty bank account, the dinners of boxed mac 'n' cheese and I’ll smile.

I'll acknowledge that without these days, I wouldn’t have made it to a place of success. The journey is worth just as much as the success itself.

I could write the world’s greatest novel in the next year and become more widely known than JK Rowling. I'd still struggle to do it, though.

Don’t be afraid of the struggle. Don’t stop trying because it’s too hard. Most importantly, don’t wish for immediate success.

Earn your way to it, and then, you’ll know how to be successful over and over again. There are days we wish it would all be over, and we wouldn’t have to work and struggle for what we want anymore. That’s normal. But, don’t let those days sway you into quitting.

If we don’t become successful right away, that’s okay. Some people don’t make it until they’re 63, and you know what? I’ll bet the stories they have of their journeys getting there are pretty darn incredible.