Picture of my archaeological dig site, which I did for ARH306. Caption: Dabbling in archaeology in first-year

The Changing Faces of “Success”

I've found that the tricky thing about defining "success" is how often the idea of success changes. I'm willing to argue that others have this same issue. Sure, people can associate success with money, health, academic marks, and other broad topics, but at the end of the day, success seems to be as nuanced as the person trying to describe it. My own definition of "success" has changed every year at UofT. SUCCESS FOR FIRST-YEAR ME WAS... ... trying to fulfill my old childhood dream of being an archaeologist. Success meant getting the grades, and making the connections, needed for going on to getting a Masters and PhD. I was going to become an expert at decoding the mysteries of ancient bones (read: I wanted my speciality to be in osteology or forensic anthropology). Everything was about grades, grades, grades.
Picture of my archaeological dig site, which I did for ARH306. Caption: Dabbling in archaeology in first-year
Dabbling in archaeology in my first-year
SUCCESS FOR SECOND-YEAR ME WAS... ... understanding and evaluating my own skill set better. After a while, I decided that maybe archaeology wasn't for me. Success in my second-year was about trying to find direction. My first year at university made me realize that I didn't enjoy the hard sciences as much as I thought I would, and that I enjoyed the writing in my social sciences and humanities classes a lot more. Every time I got a clearer idea of where I wanted to be in the future I felt "successful." At the end of the year, I decided to become a part-time student (which is a whole other story).
The Association of Part-Time Undergraduate Students. Caption: I promise to share why I went part-time very soon
I promise to share why I went part-time very soon
SUCCESS FOR THIRD-YEAR ME WAS... ... a lot different than what second-year me had in mind, since I was spending more time at my job than at university. I tried not to worry about what my future career would be, with varied success: I used to have nightmares that I'd be stuck in retail forever! What curbed my anxieties was trying to access as many career-oriented resources as possible. Success was about bulking up that resume.
Career Learning Network logo. Caption: Third-year hangout spot
My Third-year hangout spot
SUCCESS FOR FOURTH-YEAR ME IS... ... trying to have as many experiences as possible. There are just so many things to do and see, not to mention the interesting people to talk to, at U of T. It took me over three years to realize that university is a great place to be a curious person who asks a ton of questions and kinda wants to know a lot about the world. The best I've felt is when I've put what I've learned in my classes to action.
This is a photo of me digging at one of the campus gardens. I now co-coordinate the group, Dig In!, that runs these. It's been a blast. Caption: How I've been engaging with the UofT Community.
How I've been engaging with the U of T Community
I think this last definition of success has allowed me to feel more "successful" than the other definitions I had in the past, and I hope it sticks around for a while. What does "success" mean to you? How do you feel "successful"?  

1 comment on “The Changing Faces of “Success”

  1. Great to see your year-by-year growth Samantha! My idea of “success” has definitely changed over these four years as well, it’s a constant reflection.

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