On Success

Published on Jun 10, 2019

Last week I went on a job application spree. I've got this thing about work where I have to have a job. For some reason I want to feel like a blue collar worker. It's a kind of twisted manifestation of my privilege. I've never had to work which is a blessing and a curse but also a fact of life I can't alter. Nonetheless, I've always considered working a blue collar job, in hopes of proving I'm a hard worker who isn't lazy and can take care of himself. 

The other day I found myself between jobs and thought now was the time to give it a shot. I've been on a housing repair kick and thought about how dope it'd be to be able to redo the electrical in my new (old) home. So I headed over to the local electricians spot and threw in my application. A couple days later I got a call about working as an apprentice. Actually I couldn't answer the call because my phone mic wasn't working and after a few hours of tinkering I still hadn't fixed it (probably a bad omen). 

Once I finally got on the phone with my interviewer Tom, he took me off guard by asking why me, a college student, was applying for this job. He thought it odd that I'd get a 4 year degree only to go on to be an apprentice for 4 years. After talking through the position with him more, I realized that I want the skills and the credibility of blue collar more than I actually want the job. I want to be a fixer, really badly. But I might not be cut out for that. I can certainly learn some things but I don't have to learn them to be a success, or to be a man for that matter. 

On the other end of the spectrum was my former high school teacher. When I told her I was printing T-Shirts for the summer, she was disappointed I wasn't using my well groomed brain for something more challenging intellectually. I didn't tell her I was hoping to learn the business ropes on a small scale and help build the company up. But it was still interesting to be subjected to scrutiny for the first time in a while. So many of my friends are working jobs like me that I'd forgotten some are doing research at big schools and working at big companies climbing the ladder. 

As I look towards my future post graduation, I'm more and more asking what is success for me? An embarrassing amount of my life has been spent wondering what it will like to be great, to be successful? But is success starting a company? Being a fantastic father? Climbing the corporate ladder? Success means so many different things to so many different people that I'm reminded I need to take responsibility for what it means. What does taking responsibility mean? I'm sure by now it's neither drifting nor overworking as the first is avoiding the idea of success completely and the latter is working towards what others define it as. Somewhere in the middle there is a success that is meaningful yet challenging. Hard yet worth it.