I venture to say that most of us, at one point in our lives, dreamed to believe we would make it big, in one way or another. Maybe you dreamed of being the next Mariah Carey, or Rebecca St. James, if you grew up listening to the kind of music I did! Maybe you imagined you’d be a famous actor or artist or preacher.
For me, I was just sure I was bound for journalistic greatness. The summer in between my junior and senior year sealed the deal. I had already spent the previous year in college as the “big fish in the small pond” editor-in-chief of the university newspaper. Now, I was interning at the newspaper of the wealthiest suburb in Oklahoma. I was headed straight for The New York Times, naturally.
I wrote so many stories that summer that I’m pretty sure the full-time reporters at the sleepy little suburb newspaper either hated me for stealing their bylines or loved me for allowing them to take a much-needed break. I wrote about clowns visiting kids in hospitals and summer camps and even interviewed the CEO of Sonic (no, I didn’t get any free slushies out of that gig).
At the end of the summer, the editor of the newspaper wrote the nicest letter to the president of my university, saying essentially that I was destined for journalistic greatness. I treasured a copy of that letter as much as I would my college diploma, and it’s still in my portfolio to this day.
But The New York Times‘ doors I would never see. I don’t know that I was ever meant to see them. These days, I spend my time with my husband and 1-year-old son or marketing for a senior living community. This is not quite the career path I imagined. Yes, I still get to do some writing for local publications, and obviously, this blog, but I’m no Christiane Amanpour. I’m not traveling the world writing about war-torn countries like I once imagined.
And yet, I know if my heart, everything is just as it should be, for now. Would it be nice to be famous? Would it be nice to have an audience and be seen as a person of influence? Sure. I think we can all answer those questions in the affirmative.
For now, though, my lot in life is simple: to love. I may never be “successful” in the eyes of this world, if success is defined by money, fame, and good looks. But I will love those around me deeply. I will be “somebody” to those in my life — to my family, to the elderly people I see each day, to the nursing staff I work with.
While I may not be a “who’s who,” I get to occasionally interview relatively famous people for a magazine I write for. I recently interviewed an amazingly humble, truly spiritual man named Bennet Omalu. In many people’s eyes, he has been a big success — coming from destitute poverty in Nigeria to becoming the physician who discovered Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) in the brains of football players and veterans, namely.
Yet, Dr. Omalu doesn’t see success the way many do. Here’s his definition of success: “Success is not always about money. If you’re married for 30 years, that is a big success. If you raise your kids to be good human beings who treat others well, that is success. We shouldn’t always measure success by
money or professional accomplishments.”
Choose to embrace those around you and see success in terms of relationships, not money and fame. I hope you know that you’re a big somebody in the eyes of those you see each day.