FINAL years of high school can be a stressful time for a young person, as there are so many choices to be made at such a young age. Therefore, it is not uncommon to hear a statement similar to ‘What if I don’t succeed’?
This brings about the question of what really is success and what message we are sending as a society sending to young people about success after school.
There are many definitions of success, the most prevalent one being the conventional definition.
The conventional definition of success is the idea success is wealth, power, having a well-paying respectable job, a nice house, lots of possessions. This definition of success is constantly shown to young people through film, television, popular influencers and even many parents teach their children this conventional definition.
However, there are many other ways to succeed as well, such as being content within yourself, helping others, having a loving family and feeling fulfilment in what you are doing.
An Instagram poll I conducted was answered by 75 young people aged between 13 and 25, asked the participants whether they would classify success after high school as having a lot of money and a respectable job, or as being happy and fulfilled.
Results were split, with 31 per cent voting for wealth and a respectable job and 69 per cent voting for happiness and fulfillment.
Even though the results swayed largely towards happiness as being the definition of success, this still highlights many people value money rather than contentment.
Becoming an overly wealthy member of society can be a much harder goal to reach compared to finding happiness, therefore putting a lot of pressure on those who wish to succeed in a conventional way.
When asked his opinion on the conventional definition of success, Finley, a year 10 student, said: “It can be damaging to instill those types of ideas in people when happiness is really what we are going for.”
In fact, an online study of young people aged 18-24, endorsed by the Mental Health Foundation, showed 60 per cent of young people felt so much stress due to the pressure to succeed, they felt as if though couldn’t cope.
Not only is this problem a concern to the young people who are soon to be going out into the world on their own for the first time but it is also a concern for the parents of these adolescents.
Julia Cornwell, a mother of two teenagers, said she didn’t take money into much consideration when giving the definition of what her children’s success would look like in her eyes.
“A measure of success as far as a career goes is doing something you love, whether you make a dollar or you make nothing or you make $500,000,” Ms Cornwell said.
These statistics, as well comments made by students and parents, show as a society we need to change the idea of success and help young people realise money isn’t everything, hopefully reducing the pressure put on adolescents.