I find it interesting how people have misinterpreted what I have written. I think that if I'd been able to publish the longer, original version, it would have made more sense. But we all have to work within constraints.
What constitutes success is an important question. It seems like a number of people who read this essay of mine came away thinking that I call financial or professional success the only kind; far from it, that's much less important to me than what I've learned about life, humanity, integrity and relationships.
You can be successful in the most adverse circumstances if your beliefs dictate that rectitude of action, compassion, and following what's right are the most important kind of success. Or bravery. Or never giving up on (or renouncing) your faith. Or never failing a friend. Or facing your personal demons, the things that make you want to hide under a rock or fall asleep and never wake up. And you can -- and often must -- tread that path alone.
For things like professional success, you can also go it alone. But typically, you'll need help. The people you trust and whose trust you earn are an example of something within your power to change.
You can assume that I'm too young, too naive, under-experienced, and over-privileged. You'd be wrong, but that's your choice.
I specifically chose to add my age to this essay not to go "look at me, look how successful and young I am!" but to bring this kind of bias out into the light. I knew some people would write me off because of it, but it was a sacrifice I have been willing to make.
Extraordinary people exist in every walk of life, in every kind of circumstance. Many of them have little or no good fortune to back them, but that's what makes them extraordinary, isn't it? I challenge the very idea that "most people cannot live such lives." Whether or not they become famous is another matter, but the ability is available to everyone.