After a long summer, student life is trickling back into the streets. Giddy students piling out of cars, parents saying goodbye with big smiles, packs of almost adults wandering out of pubs and singing into the night. New beginnings are in the air for everyone.
Despite going into my third year of university, the fear of starting a new semester is still the same. Now with a dissertation on the horizon, as well as harder modules, more research and more expectations, those nervous butterflies in my stomach are feeling more like raging hornets. What if I fail in my last year? Stumble and fall before I reach the end?
Which led me to ask the question: what does success mean for me?
Visions of success are different for everyone. Some want a stable job, others want a nice home. Success may involve projects or opportunities to travel, learn and explore. Whatever the end result, chasing these ideas can be beneficial. (And feels a lot better than being envious of success, which I covered in my previous writing confession.)
Although I know my answers may change as the year progresses, I feel it is important to put my ideas down while I am still unsure about the future. So when the dark deadlines come in the approaching months, and I’m lost under drafts and essays, I can look back to this post and understand what is waiting on the other side.
Success must mean more than achieving the grade – As proof, here are my visions of success.
WRITING A NOVEL
Note I said writing and not publishing.
The longest piece I’ve ever written was roughly 20,000 words. Yet that was back when I was thirteen, in school, with way too much free time and no idea what I was doing.
Through university, I have studied the ins and outs of fiction. I have enough awareness now to understand the power that language can have. A toolkit, if you will, for what makes a story interesting and what makes a story as dull as a bag of socks.
Will I write a bestselling masterpiece? Of course not. But being able to write such a lengthy story and (hopefully) make it engaging enough that I want to edit it, I will be able to prove something important to myself.
I can do it.
And I can do it again if I want to.
OWNING A DOG
I have never owned a dog. A cat, yes. A grumpy hamster, certainly. Yet for much of my life, the idea of owning a dog never appealed to my family. Walks everyday, food costs, the toys, the chewed furniture: a dog was too high maintenance to bother with.
Then, last year, my partner’s brother bought I dog. I walked it, and played with it, and got angry as it ate one of my books, and watched it bounce around the house, and realised when I got home to my empty study, with a cold cup of tea and a thousand things to do, that I really wanted a dog for company.
It’s going to take time, I know. Dogs are expensive pets to run. I’ve never trained a dog either. Yet the idea of sitting down at my desk to write, while my dog snoozes on my lap, is a small success that I can’t resist.
A bad grade will not stop me from getting a fluff ball of destruction.
So I will get one. End of story.
BE REJECTED 100 TIMES A YEAR
This one, I admit, is not my own idea, but one which I adopted from this wonderful blog post.
To submit 100 times a year – to potentially fail 100 times – is a success that seems impossible to me at the moment.
Right now, failure terrifies me, especially when it concerns my writing. When a story isn’t good enough in my eyes, I feel like sliding the desk drawer open and hiding it away forever. On a few occasions, I have done just that.
It is not the failures which I aim for, but the courage to risk rejection. I want to be brave enough to do that. I want to be an absolute failure, so that I can feel like a success.
And who knows? With enough submissions, I might get accepted somewhere along the line.
Then what will success feel like?
What does success feel like for you? Do you have any success stories you’d like to share? Leave them below or tweet me @ERHollands. I’d love to hear from you.