What It Means To Be Successful

iceberge illusion

There is so much that the rest of the world has not seen about you. Your greatest accomplishments may be something as simple as continuing to go to work every morning even when you have a huge gap where sadness has flowed in. This is something that your fellow coworkers or closest friends may never come to know or understand, which is why I find this image to be an amazing representation of what we hold within ourselves; all the effort we put in on a daily basis just to live “normal” lives and be successful.

Our primary focus is on what we’ve achieved and how far we’ve come, not the hard work, downfalls, or saceficises we’ve made in order to get there. When coming home from college I’m always asked how are your grades? A simple question with a direct answer I would give back, however, the people who ask these questions will never come to understand the countless nights I spent wide awake in order to revise English papers, numerous panic attacks over the dumbest assignments, and the little to no interactions I had with friends because I couldn’t allow myself to skip out on studying even when I knew the material.

These are the things that we keep hidden so we can focus on the glamorous outcome rather than the hard work. We hide the battle scars of our dedication and loyalty in the hopes of keeping up an image of success instead of hardships and failure. We don’t want people to know we have endured disappointments, fallen in and out of good habits, and met our match numerous times where we have not accomplished our goal.

An Iceberg is a great representation of the realities of success. 80-90% of an iceberg’s size is found below the water’s surface (Encyclopedia.com), leaving much to be unseen at first glance. These large drifting free-floating ice chunks have broken off from glaciers and are pushed by the sea’s current rather than by wind due to its abundance found underwater. What causes the iceberg to be seen with less on top the water’s surface is due to it’s volume and buoyancy. The upward force exerted by an object while immersed in a fluid is equal to the weight of water it displaces, as shown in Archimedes Principle of Buoyancy (Navigation Center).

buoyancy diagram

The weight of the iceberg, along with its shape, is what will determine how much of it we see and how much is underwater. So to tie it back to success–the larger the achievement, the more responsibilities we have sunk below the surface in order to keep up our image. To achieve success there is so much more that has to be done besides flicking our wrists or wiggling our nose, things that become buried to hide the ugly side to our achievements. However, every once in awhile it would be nice to have some kind for recognition for our hard work and dedication. But nevertheless, what makes us appear amazing is that we often reach success while appearing calm and collected, but meanwhile on the inside we feel completely tired and stressed.

Humans have a huge desire to hide their inner struggles, which is one of the many reasons mental illness has increased over the years (approximately 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness in a given year (NAMI)). The ideal of appearing perfect has taken hold on our lives as we fight struggles on a daily basis with little to no release of tension. We often work ourselves to the bone in the hopes of achieving greatness but never allow other’s to see our inner struggle; something we call the ugly side of success.