Who gets to determine whether or not your life has been successful? Is there some cosmic grading sheet that you are compared to?
Great job? Check.
But what if you decide to come up with your own checklist? One that adds a million other accomplishments that most other people even imagine doing. One that is missing some of the more conventional quantifiers.
Maybe you'll spend your whole life traveling the world. You'll never get a 'real' job, and you'll never have a lot of money. You meet thousands of interesting, fantastic people and live your whole life searching for adventure. You are ridiculously happy. Isn't that successful?
Or maybe you'll decide to that you want to be an artist. You drop out of school, and devote your life to your art. You never get anything published. You never become famous. You make just enough money to get by and support your family. Your life is full of passion. Isn't that successful?
Perhaps, when you're still young, you'll get a taste of the world, and decide that you need to see the whole thing. During your travels, you find the perfect partner for you, and you fall in love. You decide, independently and together, that you'll never want children. You decide to make sure this never happens. You spend your life loving and learning, even without children of your own. Isn't that successful?
Recently I made a new friend. Her name is Kerry. She's 24, British, and just as adorable as can be. In the few short weeks I have know her, I feel like I've learned a lot about Kerry. She and Joe (who is pretty fantastic, too) are going to get married at the end of this year. She has traveled to many places, is a couch surfer, and she's loves my pumpkin loaf.
She has also decided that she never wants to have children. Ever. So, before her wedding, she's going to make sure that it never happens. She's going to be sterilized.
Kerry wrote about the trials and tribulations of deciding to have an operation to make her infertile for the UK's Daily Mail's online edition.
The article has caused a lot of people to speak out about Kerry's decision. As of right now, it has over 600 comments. Many people are supportive of her decision, calling her a strong woman who is brave for her choice. Others claim that she is selfish, or worry that she'll change her mind after it's too late.
Kerry and Joe.
Although I can't imagine not wanting children someday, I applaud Kerry for being so open, honest and for making what must have been a very difficult decision. I think that it is responsible of her to make sure that she never has to worry about whether to have an abortion, or to give up a baby for adoption, should conventional birth control fail.
Do I feel like Kerry and Joe's lives will be less full, less meaningful, because they aren't going to have children? No. I think that they will write their own definition for the word success, and will fulfill their goals for a happy life together, full of adventure and love.
You can find Kerry's article at the Daily Mail.