Happiness Is Key

I recently began thinking about what it means to be successful here at Andover. Whether it be coaches, teachers, advisors or even ourselves, people constantly remind us of our obligation to strive for “success.” Over time, however, this word has taken on a sort of mysterious allure. Success is often our aim. However, its indeterminacy seems to put it beyond our grasp. We strive to be “successful” but can rarely say what it is that we actually desire. We set it as our goal and embark in its pursuit yet often continue without direction. In short, it exists as an idyllic goal to which we head blindly yet passionately. In my short time here, however, I have realized that success comes in many forms. What meaning it takes on depends upon the person. It is unique to the individual. This is a fundamental truth that stems from the wide range of interests that make up our student body. And here at Andover, where it is okay to break free from the mold and dare be different, there are countless unique interpretations of true success. An amazing theatrical performance, for example, will not mean the same to the post-graduate football recruit as it will to the artsy, drama-loving Upper. And the 6.0 GPA will not be held in the same regard by the devoted filmmaker and passionate artist as it will to the driven and passionate academic. Although they do not command uniform appeal, both theatrical brilliance and academic excellence coexist as veritable forms of success. Thus, with such a diverse community comprised of many different passions, cultures and talents, no overarching definition can be chosen nor invariably applied. No matter how it may be interpreted, valued or cherished, we as students at Andover often lose sight of the many other goals in our lives in the pursuit of success of any type. Our sometimes heedless preoccupation with this pursuit blinds us from the many joys in our experiences. I challenge all of you to take a step back from the daily grind and to appreciate what you do for more than a routine. We pressure ourselves with so many academic, athletic and artistic commitments that we forget to truly value our time here. We are so obsessed with results that the process becomes a burden rather than a pleasure. On the other hand, the drive to succeed should exist in congruence with the ability to live in the moment, to appreciate your experiences. High school should be more than simply a means for advancing on to college. Nonetheless, I believe that true success is the achievement of happiness. What is knowledge worth if it comes at the price of satisfaction? What use is talent if not enjoyed? Underneath it all, beneath the grades, the awards and the recognition, lies a human being, and, in the end, the most important thing is happiness. That is why I believe Andover is such a special place. You can be successful without being at the top of your class, being the best athlete or receiving numerous awards. So next time you’re contemplating that fourth hour of studying or that third draft of a paper, go take a walk or hang out with friends. Know that the truest form of success is to be happy. Jack Sykes is a new Lower from New York, NY.