by: Natalie Lipka
When I was in seventh grade, I can remember leading the cheerleading squad in this cheer: “S-U-C-C-E-S-S. That’s the way you spell success.” What did that even mean and how was telling the basketball team how to spell success going to encourage them to win the game?
Meaning of Success
I’ve struggled with the meaning of the word success my entire life and especially over the course of my journey in the entertainment industry. According to Dictionary.com – SUCCESS is the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors; the accomplishment of one’s goals. Prosperous termination of attempts doesn’t do much for me, but the accomplishment of one’s goals makes more sense. The key words being “one’s goals” as in, my own goals, no one else’s. As an actor, I started out in this business with my own goals. The main ones have always been:
1. to share my talents with others
2. to make people feel
3. to get paid to do what I love to do
But I have realized recently that, somewhere along the way, it got a little miscued. I have noticed that this amazing industry (and the society that it informs), which I have committed to being a part of, is trying to define success for me. Instead of letting me stick with what I want, it has been set on confusing me with a sort of bait and switch. My reasons for being an actress are all of the above. But society encourages me to want to be famous.
The definition of famous is having a widespread reputation, usually of a favorable nature; renowned; celebrated. In my opinion, there are two kinds of famous; there is famous for being famous and famous for making an impact. The first really doesn’t make much sense to me and is not for me. Famous for being famous: Kim Kardashian. Famous for making an impact: Oprah. I honestly don’t understand why Kim Kardashian is actually famous. Sure, she came from a famous father, she was besties with Paris Hilton, she had a sex tape leaked, oh, and she is gorgeous. So how again is she a household name? Then there is Oprah – talk show host, philanthropist, producer, publisher and actress. From my perspective this is a state of fame as a result of other pursuits – other goals.
To witness these two worlds colliding, check out this interesting side note: through my research I came across this interview of Oprah interviewing Kim about the sex tape on her OWN network show – “Oprah’s Next Chapter.”
This distinction between fame as a result and fame as a pursuit is what I believe separates the “men from the boys” in this industry. The people that become “famous” and STAY famous are the ones that have poured their heart and souls into their work and are recognized for it. But if being famous is the sole purpose for going into the industry? This can only fade over time. Personally, I don’t see how this could be fulfilling for yourself or others. But, of course, this depends entirely on your goals.
Our goals can, will and should change. What you think you want in the beginning may not be what is best for you or your life. It’s like deciding what end you want to a movie before you even watch it. It needs to develop. That’s what life does. What you may think the “end result” is going to be may change on your journey. We need to know that this is OK. It doesn’t mean that you have given up or that you won’t end up in the place you originally thought you would. But you know how they say to enjoy the journey? Well, do that! We can’t be in the future so why not enjoy the present, be present in it and allow yourself to be happy. Allow the change because you never know where it may lead you. Staying true to yourself and growing as a person in this ever-changing industry and world, I believe is true success.
How do you measure success?