Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Thursday, May 24, 2018

Success is not what you think

Two weeks ago, one of my friends posted on Facebook, “What do you tell a person who has done everything that they are ‘supposed’ to do and who worked their hardest but still can’t succeed?” Many people commented on it with words of encouragement. To sum it up, most people offered surface advice of being patient and keeping faith.

Growing up, I wanted to be a lot of things: a preacher, a truck driver, an actor, a singer and probably a lot more that I cannot remember. All I knew is that I wanted something greater than what I had in a struggling, single parent home. For me, all those careers seemed to provide a very comfortable living with a lot of money.

However, I came to realize that my definition of success was becoming what I wanted: a lot of money to live comfortably and to take care of my mom.

But, in life, we don’t always become what we want. As Oprah says, “So much of wanting comes from living in the space of what we don’t have.”

If we want to be successful, we cannot make success our goal. As students, we should strive to be significant and bigger than ourselves. I have found that significance comes in serving others.

As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. alluded to, we all cannot be famous, but we can all be great and greatness comes from serving others. You can serve as a doctor to your patients, a lawyer to your clients, a teacher to your students and, not to mention the ultimate sacrifice, as a soldier to your country.

I dreamed of helping millions of young people who grew up like me, and God has placed me in many places where I am working to do just that. I can tell this is just the beginning because I am a confident believer that God can dream a bigger dream than we can for ourselves. This God could be Buddha, Allah, an energy or other source of religious support. When you surrender your goals to something bigger than yourself, success is easier to reach. For me, that path led to God.

I never imagined the life I have now, but I knew that life was something greater than what my struggling household showed me, what my neighborhood showed me, and what my school showed me. Now, I can only begin to think about what life has in store for me.

It is a difficult road to find your calling. However, once you have found it, life is so much greater. When you find this calling, stay true to it and prepare yourself for the next best thing. That is the key to success.

Deon Jones is a junior in the School of Public Affairs, an advisory neighborhood commissioner representing AU students and a national spokesman for the Campaign for Youth Justice.

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