As a child, my idea of success meant that I would have this high profile job where I told people what to do. I would be making all this money and spending it on the things I've always wanted.
As I started getting older, I added the idea of having a husband, the mental image of kids and lastly, I had this perfectly outlined dream of how my "successful" life would look.
My whole idea of success was twisted. I joined the Army at 18 with no idea what I was getting myself into. A few short months after reporting to my first unit, I deployed. My whole outlook on life in general changed.
Fast forward a few years, one more deployment and three different duty stations later, here I am. I am a 25-year-old female, Non-Commissioned Officer in the United States Army. I make almost $30,000 a year; I do not own my own house; I do not have children and I have experienced some super crappy relationships.
Do you think that I believe I am successful in life? Brace yourself; here comes the kicker: You bet your grandma's best homemade cookies I think I'm successful! I am an independent, hard-working, dedicated, sophisticated, experienced, driven, skilled, intelligent, strong, motivated and determined woman.
This is my idea of success now. I never settled for less, and I never will. I never accepted "no" as an answer, and trust me, there have been so many times where I have had to put up the fight of my life to get to where I am.
Whether it was ensuring I studied hard enough to make sure I graduated at the top of my class during my time at the NCO Academy, or whether I am in the gym busting my tail to dominate the Army Physical Fitness Test.
I've come across a lot of people who have either told me that I am too hard on myself, I expect too much from others, I get upset over the smallest things, or I can't just let sh*t go.
This is all in relation to my professional career path. My response is always along the lines of, "This is my life, not yours." I don't expect anyone to do what I do, or to chase his or her dreams like me, I can only hope one wants to better themselves and always be reaching for the next best thing.
I expect a lot out of life, but it's not anything I'm not willing to work for.
However, I can't help but notice successful women being passed up in Generation-Y's "dating" game time and time again. Take a hard-working woman who is well-established in her career, can stand on her own two feet and is also beautiful: She gets told she's intimidating.
She's told if she doesn't play the "game," she's gonna keep getting passed up. Really? I hate to say this, but "I can't even." Are we supposed to lower our standards, pretend like we are dumb as a bag of rocks, rely on a man who will tell all his friends that we are crazy and needy, just in order to find the love of our life?
Ain't nobody got time for that.
Never, ever settle for less. Continue being the smart, successful, beautiful woman you are. Establish yourself, figure out what your definition of success is and make it work for you. Live a life that makes YOU happy. Haters are gonna be everywhere; people will question your motives, some might even call you arrogant.
As Jay Z once said, "Kick that dirt off your shoulder." This is your life; professionally and personally you need to find something that suits you, and your effort will be matched 100 percent.
Always accept a challenge and never back down from defeat. Don't be afraid to be the person you need to rely on when sh*t hits the fan. Nothing is sexier than a woman who can stand her ground.
Disclaimer: This can be aimed towards men, as well. I'm a lover of personal success and live by the mantra of never settling, for anything or anyone.
Photo Courtesy: Drew Piester