A winding path from STEM to the arts

To me, being successful means...
spending my time bringing joy, health, reflection, and peace to myself and those around me.

My definition of success has changed over time. 
I used to think being successful meant becoming the top of whatever field I chose, and it wasn’t enough unless I became famous and rich. And I only ever thought about it in a career-context, not about love, family, community or anything else.

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Straight outta Stanford

My time in high school

Attended high school in the
1990s

Overall high school experience
6/10

Grades in high school
A's and B's

 

Favorite subjects
English, History / Social Studies, Science

Struggled with...
Visual arts (issues with dexterity) computer science (hard to think in a linear way)

Favorite extracurricular
Community Service / Social Activism


Life since high school

Attended college / university at
Stanford

Majored in
Biopsychology

Post-graduate education or training
Masters of arts in general psychology

Places lived in US
California

Current occupations / past occupations
Research, caregiving, volunteer tutor

Industries I've worked in
Nonprofit

Did your education prepare you for your career or occupation?
Yes

Has your education or career/occupation trajectory ever changed? How?
In 9 years and 11 mos it will. Upon retirement I will embark unto a second career.


A little introspection...

Marriage. I learned compassion, understanding from multiple perspectives and forgiveness. I learned that love is a give and take.

To me, being successful means...
contentment with life, past, present, and future.

My definition of success has changed over time. 
It shifted from a superficial worldview to one that was deeper and richer.

My greatest accomplishment to date and what I’ve learned from it
Marriage. I learned compassion, understanding from multiple perspectives and forgiveness. I learned that love is a give and take.

My biggest mistake or regret so far and what I’ve learned from it
I regret not relying on my own intuition more when making decisions.

An unexpected event that significantly changed my life and how it impacted me
Trumps presidency. It seems that after that everything went downhill in politics.


My favorite spot in or around Palo Alto

Lake lagunita

 

Mother, pursuing dreams little by little

To me, being successful means...
Being able to provide for myself and my family, being content in the small moments with family and friends, continually learning and growing and being able to share my talents with others.

My definition of success has changed over time. 
Yes, not having completed graduate school I used to feel less than in some way when compared to my career oriented peers, but as I realized that I could keep learning and developing talents and pursuing interests on my own I have felt liberated to pursue my own life path that is meaningful to me.

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Being my own version of an adult is so much better than high school

To me, being successful means...
What a question. For some reason I tend to think of my life now by how my kids are doing, my husband, myself and the state of other relationships I have in my life. When all of those things are hitting I feel successful but when they're not I don't. It seems too close-in and too short term for such a global definition but that's how I measure my life day to day. The bigger, grandiose definitions are wonderful and make for good quotes to remind myself of sometimes but I don't think anyone really stays true to them.   

My definition of success has changed over time. 
In high school it was about grades, sports and college ranking. In college it was grades, social status, job offers. In career it was work reviews, weddings and grad school. As a Mom, it's are my kids happy, having fun and learning. With my husband, right now, it's are we getting along, lol.

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Los Angeles Architect Designer

To me, being successful means...
Doing what I love, working hard at it every day, and realizing that I've grown by making mistakes.

My definition of success has changed over time. 
I don't associate success with (quick) fame or money, and have found that by just doing what I've described aa my idea of success, have found that the recognition and rewards are coming and feel that they are deserved.

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BoyzIIMen, U2, Mary J Blige, and Toad the Wet Sprocket

To me, being successful means...
accepting myself as an imperfect being, feeling strong and energized in my body, and cultivating healthy, mutually respectful relationships.

My definition of success has changed over time. 
It used to be more about quantity, like number of friends, amount paid, amount of influence, how well known I am. Now it's become more about the quality of my work and relationships -- noticing what nourishes me and what drains me, and making decisions about my life accordingly.

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Left for six months and never came back

To me, being successful means...
Being able to take pride in what you've made of your life.

My definition of success has changed over time. 
Although the core of my own idea of success hasn't changed, it has been a difficult and continuing struggle to keep my sense of accomplishment separate from parental expectations. You'd think at 40 it would be easier to look your parents in the eye and not be sorry for having chosen a path that doesn't involve marrying a person wealthy by inheritance or profession in order to secure a pampered and indolent life for oneself and one's offspring, but...in my experience, parents don't change. I had to build yourself the protective space I needed to keep myself from wishing I had never been born. 

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I love oak trees in the hills

To me, being successful means...
Loving life and being able to encourage and provide for others.

My definition of success has changed over time. 
It is less of a material target and more of an attitude or state of being.

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Living Life, Having Fun, and Finding Balance

To me, being successful means...
Being balanced.

My definition of success has changed over time. 
It used to be more about money and material things, now it is about being happy.

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Bowdoin College, Sustainability and Energy

To me, being successful means...
Being happy, being grateful, and being able to help others / contribute positively to society in a meaningful way.

My definition of success has not changed over time. 
I don't really know. I was lucky that I was never wired super tightly in high school to think of college and grades as my end-all be-all. I do think now I define success less in terms of my personal accomplishments and more about what is important for my community, company, city, and family.

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UC San Diego, Scientist and Nurse, California

To me, being successful means...
having strong, positive relationships in my life, being a good role model for my kids, having a strong sense of who I am and what matters to me.

My definition of success has changed over time. 
I think when I was younger, it was more financially based and/or making some discovery of major impact on the world 

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It is NOT always about grades and colleges.

To me, being successful means...
knowing myself and being able to apply my strengths and talents to make a difference in the world. it also means having a few good friends and a loving family.

My definition of success has changed over time. 
when i was in high school, i pretty much defined success as being able to get good grades and get into a good / top college.

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Flexibility is the best tool for an unpredictable future.

To me, being successful means...
Finding and surrounding myself with things that make me happy, and emotionally and creatively fulfilled.

My definition of success has changed over time. 
I used to think that being successful meant going to a good college, graduating and getting a good job that made a lot of money. I had no idea that there was so much more to life than to strive for. I got into a good college, graduated, worked my way into a good job, then realized I was extremely unhappy. I hadn't taken into account that there was more to life than just having a job. My physical health and mental well-being were suffering. And once I had my first child and found that I only had about 1.5 - 2 hours with him per day, I realized on all that I was missing out on. It was clear case of "money can't buy happiness," and that's when I made a change.

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I have no fear, I have only love

To me, being successful means...
Experiencing life

My definition of success has changed over time. 
I used to think I was a failure or didn't measure up to what was expected of me because I didn't have the prestigious career or college under my belt. What I learned was I actually got to live life and see what the world had to offer and in that, I grew and became a better person.

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Don't sweat the small stuff

To me, being successful means...
Being happy with what you are doing.

My definition of success has changed over time. 
I'm less interested in quantitative metrics of success and I focus more on the intangible measures.

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Still figuring things out

To me, being successful means...
Making a positive difference in the world so that it's at least a little better when you left it than when you entered it.

My definition of success has changed over time. 
My definition of success is much less oriented towards personal achievement now than it was when I was, say, in high school.

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Sometimes following "the rules" gets you into a mess

To me, being successful means...
Balancing building for my future with enjoying my life today.

My definition of success has changed over time. 
I am a rule follower. Always have been. Give me the rules of the game and I'll figure out how to win. That was a great strategy when I was growing up and in the Palo Alto schools, and I was really successful at [high school]. I got mostly A's, won school elections, was captain of the cheer team, etc, etc... I was working like crazy, but I was loving it, and I had plenty of energy. I was winning. I was succeeding. All the people around me told me so.

The world got broader... I went to a really large University where I felt like I suddenly was swallowed up - I felt mediocre, average and forgotten. In truth, I was none of those things, but I had trained myself to seek approval from the outside, from "winning the game", and it was hard for me to see myself as successful if I wasn't doing that, daily. I became self-destructive in my own way. I developed an eating disorder, I drank too much - I really didn't know how to find my place.

I still did very well in school and I landed my dream job in a large corporation and set myself to learning the rules of that game and winning it. And I did that successfully for many years. But it took more and more from me - I was exhausted. And life was happening. I ended up in a bad marriage with an addict and I found myself afraid to leave and be seen as having "failed." I became a mom of 2 - the best thing that has ever happened, but any parent will tell you that kids are a lot of work. Trying to hold my life together as a mom of two young kids, in a marriage that was disintegrating, while climbing the corporate ladder was too much. I found myself in and out of my eating disorder, and relying heavily on pharmaceuticals to keep me moving. Two anti-depressants, an anti-anxiety med and pills to help me sleep at night. But the outside world told me I was succeeding. Everyone was so impressed at how I made "it all" work. But I was miserable, numb and hollow. I cried alone in my car on the way to work, and I cried on the way home.

Then my life exploded. The issues in my marriage reached a breaking point and I ended it. My performance at work was compromised and Corporate America was unforgiving - my company laid me off... from "Golden Girl" to reject in a matter of months. I found myself without a job, without a marriage, with no idea what my future was.

Every single definition of success I had for myself was lying in ruins around me. And you know what? I lived. I cried and I got help from an amazing therapist. I gave myself permission to spend time with my children, and I realized that I really like hanging out with those little stinkers. I worked on my own mental state and slowly dropped the medications (with doctor support and supervision, of course.) I learned to forgive myself for being imperfect. I found a strength, resiliency and peace in myself that I had never seen before. And I found a new job that pays less, but allows me to be home, have a flexible schedule, and love my life today instead of hating my life today while I wait for tomorrow to somehow be better.

There are people who look at me today and think, "Boy, she got totally destroyed and look at her now... couldn't get back to where she was," but they have no idea what they're talking about. I'm happy today. I'm healthy. I'm present for my kids. And we will be fine. We may not take a fancy vacation every year, we may be a family that doesn't have two parents in the same house, but we are going to be fine. My girls will grow up knowing that there is value in enjoying today and appreciating what you have. Because the future you are sacrificing today for may not be in your control - and it may turn out to be nothing like you picture.

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Playing (and Sometimes Working) in Colorado

To me, being successful means...
Being financially independent, making enough money to work less hours, being able to support my hobbies and passions and spend time with my boyfriend and baby. 

My definition of success has changed over time. 
Success for me was very goal oriented: get good grades, finish high school, then college, then vet school. When I finished college and made the decision not to go to vet school, I was completely stumped about what to do. I then decided to go to grad school, and the goals came back into my life. BUT when I finished grad school... there I was again, unsure what to do next!! In the 7 years since finishing grad school, I have realized what is most important is that I am able to live my life exactly how I want to. I enjoy my work but feel most successful when I am doing the things I love outside of work.

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