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Media portrayal of overnight success undermines patience


Like an impossible pot of gold | The notion of “overnight success” brought on by simply hard work is nothing more than an illusion, as gaining success also requires patience.

“Overnight success” is the phrase often used to describe stories of self-made billionaires to social media influencers who gain millions of followers within months. While these stories can provide inspiration, they also promulgate the notion that success is easily achievable without patience or trial and error.

For example, on TikTok, there are videos that criticize social media influencer and singer, Dixie D’Amelio, for having a high number of monthly Spotify listeners as a new artist. Many users pointed out that D’amelio’s number of monthly listeners is much higher than artists who have been in the industry for years. They also noted that D’Amelio collaborated with distinguished artists like Liam Payne and Wiz Khalifa, even though she has only released a few songs and began releasing music just last year.

When learning about D’Amelio’s story of success from a high school student to a TikToker with over 41 million followers to a singer with millions of monthly listeners, people may identify this as another instance of “overnight success.” In actuality, behind her success are resources that allow D’Amelio to advance in her career. D’Amelio has millions of followers on her social media, which may have allowed her to forge connections with others in the industry and promote her music to millions of people. In addition, her sister, Charli D’Amelio, is currently the most followed TikToker with over 100 million followers. Other artists might not have such a large platform and are thus unable to publicize their music at the same extent.

Beyond social media platforms, “overnight success” is apparent in stories about teenagers who win national singing competitions like American Idol and become superstars just within a few months. In addition, people often praise how Mark Zuckerberg became a co-founder of Facebook and a billionaire at just age 23. These stories of “overnight success” can promote a mindset that aims to take shortcuts in order to gain the same accomplishments at a faster pace. However, this mindset is ultimately toxic as it leads to the start of normalizing impatience. While taking the faster route is quicker, this also poses a threat to patience, which is a crucial trait that allows people to endure challenges with tolerance and perseverance. Without patience, people will lack the discernment to make rational decisions.

Some may argue that this idea of “overnight success” should be promoted since it motivates individuals to strive and work harder for quicker triumphs; however, there is a difference between what is deemed “overnight success” and what is actually early success, according to Forbes. When people hear of these success stories, they typically disregard the years of work, dedication and creativity that supports these individuals and allows them to receive these opportunities. While individuals like Zuckerberg and D’Amelio were able to have early success compared to someone who spent dozens of years attempting the same career, they still endured a process which should be recognized.

“Overnight success” may characterize dozens of stories about quick accomplishments, but no such thing exists. Although the media focuses on this glamorized image of success, acknowledging the time and actual process behind it is crucial to maintaining patience.

By Sarah Lew, Staff writer
Editorial cartoon by Joy Wang