We can be who we want to be and to have whatever we want, as long as we want to work towards it. It is instilled in us from birth, that anything is possible. We are given a clear image of success, that seemingly unattainable point in life that everyone strives for - the office around the corner, the dream road trips, the Mercedes.
Every day we work hard to enter the competition thinking, that this is what is expected of us. We never rest, as there is always more to do, the next peak to climb and the next obstacle to overcome. We just keep going, hoping that we will eventually reach that "unattainable" image of success, that one day we will be successful too.
This image is believed to be so ingrained in our minds, that anything different from it becomes a great failure. If that were the case, then by those standards the failures would outnumber the victories. If this is the "correct" definition of success, then the man working from early dawn on his farm with the sole purpose of getting produce to the masses has failed. It means the cashier working eight hours a day to contribute to our fast service has failed. And what about the painter who stays up until two o'clock in the morning to make our house look nice, or the mother who, in addition to attending university, decides to abandon her career for a few years in order to raise the child. Who will attribute these "failures" to them?
The truth is that business as we know it would not be successful without workers working tirelessly at all levels to build a solid foundation. Whether it is the lab technician, the accountant, the manager or the owner, the structure would easily fall apart if it was left without the support of all these people. Therefore, no one should fit this "image" if it does not apply to everyone trying to make the business successful. Not only will this isolate a certain group of people, but it will also be an insult to the rest of us who work hard and dedicate their time to the business.
Apart from that fact, the image of success, the image of the successful office around the corner, has not changed. We see it in magazines, in newspaper articles and advertisements, even in the performance of characters from our favorite TV shows. This image is everywhere, surrounding us and weighing on our society like a migraine that won't go away.
It is possible that it is just a tool to motivate us. After all, without a goal to achieve, there is very little left for motivation. I can buy into that idea, though I have a hard time appreciating the glossy execution of the lifestyle, which accompanies this image.
It seems to be perceived that people who have reached this peak have fewer problems, that they are free to do whatever they want and that they are in control of their life, but in fact they still have obstacles that need to be overcome. Not everything is as good as it seems.
Even if this is not the case, even if this way of life is not as shiny as it seems, the fact that not everyone wants the same things from life should not be overlooked. We are all different, we have different lives and different views. We can't slip into a neat little category and be told that this is it - the image of success. We are grateful that we have the choice and the opportunity to be who we want to be, regardless of that image and regardless of societal standards.
We may not be able to change the subject of advertisements or the image of the successful businessman in the office around the corner. Perhaps this image will always remain valid for those who keep pushing towards it. Perhaps what will change is how we as individuals measure success and what we think things of value in life are. Maybe it's not up to others to decide or define that for us. Perhaps it depends entirely on us and defining our own image of success will lead to its correct definition.