By Suraj Sehgal
When we think of success, we often don’t know how to define it, and when we do, that definition tends to never work in our favor. Rather than becoming a constructive benchmark or approach, success becomes an amorphous concept that always eludes us.
Why is this so? It’s because our society has convinced us that success is equivalent to fame, friends, and fortune, which makes it easier to constantly feel inadequate — like everyone else is doing life better than you can.
We need to redefine what it means to succeed. The traditional measures of success — promotions, high pay, high grades — are not enough. Our lives are made up of so much more than what we tend to measure and account for in a typical cost-benefit analysis. Success in our life must be holistic. After all, our lives have multiple aspects.
I see holistic success as an attitude, one that can help us develop as a complete individual: academically, professionally, spiritually, socially, and all other parts of our life. It’s a mindset that helps us to see our lives not as an endless competition that we’re doomed to lose — where everyone is constantly smarter, more popular, and better than us — but rather as an opportunity to learn, make mistakes, and ultimately, grow.
Part of this holistic view of success as an avenue for personal growth has been understanding the importance of being a global citizen. Through the opportunities that Georgia Tech has provided me, I feel like I have truly been able to push my boundaries, go outside my comfort zone, and grow.
Tech has allowed me to change the world while in college and not have to wait until after I graduate. My extracurricular activities, for example, provide me with ways to take these diverse and interdisciplinary perspectives and apply them toward causes that can better the world.
With the Grand Challenges Living-Learning Community, my team, the Food Fighters, has been working since our freshman year to empower college students who are at risk of food insecurity to take action regarding their food situation. We’ve recently conducted an official study to better understand what food insecurity looks like on Tech’s campus, using our ISyE skills to help us analyze our data.
With One Voice Atlanta, a student organization on campus that works to raise awareness about human trafficking, assist victims, and prevent such crimes from occurring in the future, I have had amazing opportunities to connect with other community members, like the International Human Trafficking Institute and SKAL International Atlanta, being given the chance to speak and participate at film screenings, social justice nights, and symposiums.
Ultimately, what drives me is inner growth and a need to bring love to people. Even though I struggle with having that growth-oriented mindset and attitude of holistic success all the time, what has truly helped me develop clarity and purpose in times of chaos has been the practice of heartfulness meditation. I started this meditation practice when I was 17 years old, however, I began to meditate much more regularly after I started college. For me, especially at a high-paced environment like Tech, meditation is a way of stepping back, reminding myself that I am alive, and taking a moment to invest in myself, by doing something that many students seem to have forgotten — to just be.
Heartfulness meditation is about bringing your attention to the heart, helping people connect with the very organ that literally keeps us alive and metaphorically brings us all together. By taking just a moment to bring myself within, I am often reminded of the importance of love and being connected with yourself. And what I’ve learned in the process is that when I choose to work on myself and try to grow as an individual, it creates a ripple that affects my environment and all those around me. As a result, I can begin to change the world — simply by changing myself.
Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering