Renounce Success: Manifesto

In this personal project I explore the tension that the concept of success has on an individual. The posters and book visually compliment the writing. This project was part Mentor's Art Exhibit, in which each professor selects a student project be showcased in a local art gallery.

Success! What a positive word. Success is what pushes us to better ourselves, it is what fuels us to wake up every morning and step into the shoes of progress. Media, friends, family, and everyone around us pushes us to be successful. Those that do not partake are outcasted, belittled, and ridiculed. They say that success is the beacon of human achievement. That when one has or becomes fused with success, one is fulfilled.
 
We must denounce success because instead of being an uplifting quality it has become a curse to all that partake in it. Success has become nothing more than a vague concept that haunts our dreams and deteriorates our minds. It has become a fruitless endeavor.
What is success? Is it money, happiness, stability, or meaningful relationships? It seems that success is all and none of these at the same time. Success is nothing but a vague concept that tells us what we must become and what we must forget. Without such a concept many people will find themselves lost. They become lost not because they need success, but because they have forgotten to live.
 
I believe that the concept of success is a form of control. Society, religion, educational institutions, and government shape the definition of success. Unfortunately we as individuals have little say in what it means to be successful. If we don’t abide to the established norms, we become outcasted and cheapened. By abiding to them we lose our sense of identity and purpose. We become but puppets to a well established puppeteer.
We go day to day hoping that we will one day reach the pinnacle of success. We push ourselves harder and harder to reach it. We destroy all that we believe in and replace it with all that we are taught to believe in. Instead of bettering ourselves through constant self analyzes, questioning, and transformation we mold our persona into pre-established forms. In doing so, we become the chess piece of a game that we don’t even know exists.
 
Only through consistent challenging of ourselves and those around us can we realize what true success is. Perhaps success is not a destination, but a way of life. Everyday is a new opportunity to manifest our potential. It is time to denounce all that has been taught to us and embrace not what can be, but what already is.
By denouncing all previous concepts of success we can challenge ourselves to develop our own definition of success. One that isn’t linked to the desires of others but to our own yearning of personal fulfillment. It is true that this apparent lack of foundation might seem helpless and daunting at first. But the reality is that we already have all the material we need to build a solid identity. Our past experiences, present inclinations, and future hopes and desires give us a clear view of who we are and who we want to be. The problem is that we often ignore what we truly want to do because of fear.
 
Fear must be first acknowledged. It is when we realize that we are fearful of ourselves, institutions, society, and those around us that the meaninglessness of our actions become clear to us. Most often we act not because we want to, but because we are fearful of what might happen if we do not. Stares of disapproval and disgust cloud our judgement. We often choose our professions, relationships, and daily activity not because we desire them, but because they are expected by others. The concept of self becomes lost.
The only way to be successful is to embrace who we truly are and to take each day as a challenge to move forward. Society has its own definitions of success. However, these definitions are often fueled by avarice, an erroneous concept of progress, and a superficial understanding of what it means to be human. Responsibility for our actions, a sense of self worth, and a respect for our transient existence should be the guiding forces in our lives. Unfortunately, accumulation of wealth, importance of external appearance, social hierarchy, and our desire of pleasure and power have replaced them.
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