There is the age-old success – getting an ‘A’ on a test, getting a promotion, first published novel, setting up your own business. These are milestone moments. There are also age-old ideas of failure – losing a job position, failing a test, unsuccessful businesses, and so on. Meetings, greetings, welcoming a new member into your team or a farewell – how have these ideas of success and failure evolved during pandemic times? Our guest contributor Muskaan Vaidya shares her thoughts.

Recently, one of my colleagues left our team.

I am currently working on a project at an MNC. I work in a team of about 7 other people. One of the team members recently changed positions. She left the team to join another department in the company. Her role was also one step up the ladder. Needless, to say we were all overjoyed for her success and excited for her.

Pre-pandemic, if someone left the team, there was a ritual we followed to make them feel special. Either going for a small party after-work, or meeting for dinner at someone’s home. We usually purchased a card for them, signed with our best wishes. We also went out of our way to find a nice box of chocolates we thought they would appreciate.

When I heard about her promotion, all these thoughts came to my mind. But during a time when the pandemic was still raging at incredibly high numbers, it was difficult to imagine meeting up to gift her personally signed cards and chocolates. It would be almost impossible to meet for dinner because our team exceeded the requirement of people that could meet indoors then.

I sat in shock as I tried to process how at such a landmark moment in her life, the only love we could show her would be through a Teams call. Clinking our glasses with the glass of our screens. Talking over each other and apologizing when the audio could not keep up. Within an hour or so, the meeting would conclude. We wouldn’t even be able to hug her.

Success & failure weave themselves in different forms here.

Professional success on the part of my friend. Success in her achieving a new milestone in her life. Our success in hopefully being able to show her how happy we were for this next phase of her life. Failure in being unable to give her the kind of party and farewell she deserved. Failure in showing up for a colleague in the way we wanted to.

But in a locked-down world, where we have mostly been confined to the four walls of our homes, I think these terms have taken on new definitions. With often mounting frustrations, limitations on where we can go which may extend to how much we can achieve (possible direct correlation to success), and a load of discontent in general, I think we have begun to see the world in a different light. Due to these restrictions, maybe, just maybe, we might be able to flourish even more.

There is dissatisfaction in being unable to do little things like go to a café, meet friends regularly sans social distancing, and so on. But with this, maybe we are slowly learning to take it easy on ourselves.

With so much out there in the world that can upset us, maybe on days that are particularly hard, we are able to pause and say to ourselves, “It’s enough that I could get out of bed today to get on with my tasks”.

Maybe when that presentation doesn’t go well, we are able to pause and say, “I did try very hard, and I gave it my best. Yes, it didn’t work out the way I wanted to, but it’s good that I did put in the effort I could.”

Perhaps for those of us lucky enough to get promotions in times like these, we can pause and say, “Just because we weren’t able to celebrate it the way we used to, doesn’t make the celebration any less. It doesn’t make my success any less.”

And for those that may be having a hard time in their lives due to many other reasons, maybe they are able to pause and say, “This is not a failure, and it does not define me. It is in itself a success that I keep showing up each day, I keep trying each day.”


Image showing a work diary ,tea-and-biscuits


Learn to just be in the moment, rather than overthink about the future.

Maybe success is no longer just about the big moments. Maybe it is also present in the small moments, like when we choose a healthy lunch. When we walk instead of taking the bus. When we don’t feel like getting out of bed, but we still get dressed and get to the tasks we have. When we feel drained and take a walk in nature to refresh ourselves. As a friend told me once in our discussion, “With how uncertain everything feels constantly these days, success in the form of small milestones feels more grounding.”

Successes in small milestones feel more concrete, somehow.

Maybe success is really about choosing what is best for us, consistently. It might still be all about what we achieve, but not all of it needs to be tangible. Maybe the only proof of success is a handwritten smiley face in your journal entry. And maybe, everything else that comes out of this consistency, is just a reward for our efforts.It could just be, that failure is no longer a word that hangs shamefully on our shoulders. But is just one time we weren’t able to show up perfectly, among many other times that we did. Maybe, failure is really just a slip-up. A detour on the road we were meant to take. Not a destination with no returns. Nothing that cannot be fixed by showing up once more to fix things the next day.

Maybe after this time of our lives, we as students and the aspiring professionals (and adults) of tomorrow can learn to be a little softer to our hearts. Maybe this time we are able to stop to hear the passion beating in our hearts and pursue it on the daily. Now, wouldn’t that be a success?

About the author

Photograph of Muskaan VaidyaHaving moved through 9 cities, across 3 countries, Muskaan has grown up with an international flavor, but still maintains her Indian roots. As a young child, she sought out libraries in her locality (whichever city that may have been) and devoured books. Since having picked up a passion for reading from a very young age, she soon began to fill up notebooks with her own imaginations and self-woven universes. Today she retains the same passions and continues to write about her learnings from her adventures through life.

Right now she is pursuing her bachelors in Lucerne. Having completed multiple work experiences with MNCs, she is also slowly defining her early career steps.

While studies usually take up most of her week, Muskaan can often be found strapping her hiking boots on and wandering through the Swiss mountains on warm weekends. And sometimes, a simple night in with a movie and popcorn is the best way to decompress.

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