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A Different Kind of Success

June 8, 2013

This is a thought that resurfaces every time something reminds me of school. Especially when I run into an old teacher or classmate, someone who knew me as the girl who effortlessly got top grades in every class – the girl everyone assumed would, just as effortlessly, get a university degree and a successful job.

The other day, it was my grammar school Art teacher that I recognized, the second of my old teachers to be a customer at the Teeny Tiny Village Nursery since I started working there. After I’d told him I used to be one of his students, he said he remembered me, and now I wonder, once again… what does he think – he and all those other old teachers, all those old classmates – what do they think of where I have ended up in life?

All through my childhood and teenage years, I was told to go on to school, to “do something” with my talents. To go to university, to get a “successful” job, a prestigious and well-paying one. So I went to grammar school, and then – because that’s what you do if you’ve passed your grammar school finals – to university.

And then, I chose happiness and dirty fingernails over money and prestige, and dropped out.

Sometimes I wonder what those people who knew me at school think of that – do they see me as a failure, as a dirty-fingered drop-out?

Not that I care. Because in my opinion, I’m so much better off than those old classmates who are just finishing university or working crappy jobs that have nothing to do with their degree.


Success is having seven years of work under my belt (while their careers are just starting).

Success is customers telling that the plants I’ve helped them choose are growing really well.

Success is seeing the results of my work, the greenhouses filling up and empyting again, plants growing and being sold.

Success is customers specifically asking to be served by me.

Success is the sound of a coin falling into my tip jar.

Success is regular customers recognizing me on the street, and me recognizing them in return.

Success is a comment on a blog post, knowing that people read and appreciate what I write, and sometimes even inspired by it.

Success is the sore muscles and callused palms that prove I’ve been working hard.

Success is eating homegrown vegetables.

Success is being able to answer customers’ questions.

Success is selling the plants I’ve grown at home.

Success is regular customers telling me they’re glad to see me back for another year after winter break.

Success is knowing they see me, not just another nameless, faceless retail employee.

Success is chatting and joking with my customers, making them leave with a smile.

Success is laughing with my bosses and knowing we genuinely like each other.


Success is knowing, every day, that I made the right decision – how many people are lucky enough to have a job they truly love?

7 Comments leave one →
  1. June 8, 2013 00:18

    Well said! Happiness is the only rue measure of success.

    • June 9, 2013 01:29

      It would be a better world if more people understood this.

      • June 9, 2013 02:03

        It would indeed, but instead we’re conditioned to believe that we can only be happy if we have lots of ‘things’ and are admired by others. Except none of that seems to make us happy either. -shrug-

  2. permalink
    June 8, 2013 02:34

    I would switch places in a second! Bravo for you! 🙂

  3. Sugunasri Maddala permalink
    June 9, 2013 08:25

    THIS IS THE REAL SUCCESS … I echo from this part of the globe!

    I have subscribed to most of my professional sites but not to this …there something `living’ in this site



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