The Definition of Success

By Sylvie Griffiths:

Two weeks ago, I earned my Master’s in Business Administration and marched in the local campus graduation ceremony. My program was accelerated which involved a full MBA program within 12 months. The hybrid structure of classes allowed for one weekend of classes a month and roughly 25 hours of homework a week. This, by far, was one of the most challenging goals I had set for myself to date.

A friend asked me “How does it feel to have your MBA?”  A substantial question to which I did not have a solid answer. Relief for completing the program. Pride in my 4.0 GPA. Anxiety about how I would use this new degree. Fear about my family’s debt due to my college loans. Happiness, my husband and kids, watched me earn a second degree later in life. So many feelings.

I have pondered success before in my writings, and I still haven’t figured out the answer to how I view my personal success. Working multiple jobs to support my family, while in a graduate program leading to many days of mommy guilt and many late nights filled with exhaustion and frustration. As a married woman with four children; many in our family depend on me in many ways. I felt torn about how this milestone was gained ultimately.

Sacrifice equals success in my case. But isn’t that true of many trailblazers, especially women? I had several personal trials during my program that made some days seems impossible. I had my kids asking for my attention and time while I struggled to find balance. And this made me angry and very resentful some days that my journey was not more comfortable. My solution to this is to measure success by merely accomplishing a personal goal.

I felt a powerful sense of relief on my final class day, and yet additionally felt sort of lost in the last two weeks since graduation. My new spare time has been overfilled with my kids going back to school and their activities. I have looked at job postings, but honestly, do not see much that would fit in with my current two jobs. I believe it is impossible for parents to feel 100% great about their successes when it comes from the sacrifice that affects our families.

Don’t get me wrong; my greatest success is my family. But I have wondered if my goals impact them in negative ways like when I tell them I cannot give them a ride home because I am working or when I put a frozen pizza in the oven after a 12 hour day on my feet. I have a new goal after graduation; I will be mindful and present in all that I do. Life goes by so quickly, but there is a joy to be found in small moments as well as significant.

And I have a new favorite quote by W.E.B. Dubois that helps me with all of this. “Children learn more from what you are than what you teach.” And considering that, I am showing my kids that if they work hard and reach for the stars, the possibilities are endless.

About Sylvie Griffiths:

Sylvie is a happily married mother of four who enjoys writing, people and chocolate.

She is an Evaluation Associate and has a Master’s in Business Administration at Springfield College. She holds more than ten years of experience in performance assessment and behavioral health services.