It seems to be the American way to define success and happiness through achievement and material possessions. I believe life happiness is instead dependent upon love. Love provides someone to keep company with, share dreams with, laugh with, make mistakes with and most importantly grow old with. It is an incredible support structure when the chips are down and a tremendous reason not to quit. A loveless life is no life at all, no matter how wealthy one becomes from a successful career.
When applying to colleges, I was asked on multiple applications to write about my goals, about what I wanted to achieve whilst at college and afterwards. At 18, I wanted to be a posh fashion magazine editor—an independent, career-oriented woman living in a big city with the ability to buy expensive clothing and such things. Or put more simply, I wanted to live Carrie Bradshaw’s life in “Sex and the City”.
My philosophy on how to achieve happiness became apparent to me during my time abroad last semester, when I lived with an Italian family who had very little. What was of primary importance in their lives was not what they owned but each other’s happiness. It was apparent at every dinner that they were content because of the love they shared. They understood that success is not defined by riches but instead defined by their love of being together. They did what they could to help each other and found it intensely rewarding.
Since living with the family, Carrie Bradshaw’s life now no longer seems so appealing. Conversely, it appears sad, empty and shallow as material possessions (which the men in her life are to her as well) rule every facet of her existence.
Priorities changed, I had another experience that affirmed how important love is to my existence. My friend Cassie had invited me to accompany her to a family friend’s house in France to pick olives. On November 30th, I arrived in Aix-en-Provence, with out any expectations of how the weekend would go. Cassie’s friend Jasper, met us at the airport. Laughing all the way to the car, I liked him immediately but not in an intimate way at first. As the weekend progressed, it was clear there were sparks between us and I knew I wanted to see him again.
Two weekends later, Jasper flew to Florence to take me to dinner. We spent the weekend strolling around Florence while completely mesmerized by each other. His spontaneous visit began what has now been 53 days of a beautiful long-distance relationship. Although we have only physically seen one another for a total of 5 days, the connection, familiarity and comfort is strong between us. Still, having a year and half of schooling left, it is hard to know where this relationship will steer. Will we fall in love, and what then? With the rarity of truly falling in love, and the happiness that follows from the shared love, I wholeheartedly would change my plans to be with him.
Clearly material riches do make life more comfortable and more interesting, but I believe that a life without them is much preferable to a life without love. I wish that more people would realize that. I am confident the world would be a better, happier place.
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