Every society has a preconceived idea of what success and power should look like. While some see success as intrinsic, others see it as extrinsic. Success isn’t a prestigious job title and power isn’t a three-digit car plate number. We have been conditioned to believe that money is happiness, a three-digit plate number is a sign of status, and a crocodile leather bag is a must-have. Society has given excessive attention to consumerism where one starts to value the tangible items, the career status, and the wealth more than time with the people you love.
True success is intrinsic; it’s how you measure it within yourself. One must not succumb to the notion that success is a vertical ladder where there is a ticking clock that will risk it away if you don’t climb that ladder fast enough. Success is horizontal; it’s family, love, health, kindness, and many other intangible elements.
The Emirati generation has yet to learn about the meaning of happiness, success, and power without relating it to a bag, car, or status. While we have come as a nation bound together, a few of us rise to compete against one another. Success is not achieved when you have what others can’t have; success is palpable and is seen in everyday life.
We have been misinformed on how success should look like; success isn’t always a spacious office with a sea view. As kids, we all answered the cliché answers on what profession we will seek once we grow up and it was a choice of being a doctor, an engineer, or the classic businessman. Many succumb to what their community or parents want them to do and end up giving up their passion due to this external pressure.
Emirati youth dream about being film directors, painters, artists, actors, photographers, or fashion designers. However, society shuns those that think outside the traditional and cultural box. Society views these professions as unrealistic professions that do not adhere to the way we do things here. The community breaks down the aspirations of the dreamers by telling them the career path they have chosen does not reward them the Emirati dream. The Emirati dream could be the Range Rover, the Hermes bag, the house in Europe, or the five trips around the world annually.
Emirati women have been building a platform and paving the way for themselves to fight for their rights. Men, as well, have been struggling to make what is unheard of as a given or a regular thing, it’s what I like to call as “the new normal”. Only a few years ago, you would never expect to see Emirati female pilots. It was unfathomable for an Emirati woman to pursue such a profession, but she did. If an Emirati man dared to be a fashion designer, society starts to degrade both the profession and the individual indirectly. Culture can, sometimes, crush one’s dream when it tells them this is not a way to succeed; you are far from it. So how does one measure success?
Measuring success depends on how much you are satisfied with the way you are living your life. When you upload credit onto your phone, you receive a message back saying “you successfully uploaded credit to your phone”; success can come in the simplest form. Most importantly, avoid comparison to measure success between you and others. God says in the Qur’an: “And strain not thine eyes toward that which We cause some wedded pairs among them to enjoy, the flower of the life of the world, that We may try them thereby. The provision of thy Lord is better and more lasting.” (Qur’an 20:131)
It seems whenever success is mentioned, money, cash, and status is as well. Success could be the mother who raised all five children on her own, an 18 year old boy who prayed all his five prayers on time today, or a two year old who knows the alphabet. You succeed when you are satisfied with what life has given you whether it was good, bad, or ugly.