Success Is A Very Hideous Thing

“…Success is a very hideous thing. Its false resemblance to merit deceives men. For the masses, success has almost the same profile as supremacy.”

Winter Break gives us a chance to spend time with family and friends, it gives us free time and the space to reflect on our lives without the constant pressure that classes put on us, which can greatly alter our perspectives.  I myself have had a fair amount of free time over these past few weeks and one of the things that I have done was start to re-read my favorite novel, Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. And while I was reading it a line struck me that never had in my multiple readings of it in the past, “success is a very hideous thing.”

It struck me because now that I am no longer surrounded by the immediate pressure of success, in the form of grades on tests, and finding a job I am able to see what an ugly thing it is. It reminds me that our lives are not, and should not, be measured in quantitative terms (which is difficult for an engineering student to admit) through test scores or salaries, but instead through our passions, and our relationships with people. This is not at all different from the message that Jesus tells in the Bible, treat others as you would like to be treated, don’t focus on numbers but instead on being your genuine self; because success is a very hideous thing.

-Laura Kulm

*Victor Hugo’s explanation of success goes on for a couple paragraphs and is in Book 1, Chapter 12 (the ebook can be easily found online).

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