Celebrate your own successes not the “official ones”

Patrick Westöö
4 min readJun 1, 2022

When I graduated high school, a unique and highly celebrated time in Sweden, I wasn’t proud. The celebration goes back to the days when many did not pass and hence could not go on to university. So passing was a huge thing. My dad graduated the year after they changed it and refused to wear his hat, in defiance of the pointlessness of the ceremony. But I hated mine, I was happy to leave high school but my grades weren’t that good, due to a stint of partying in the first year of high school. I did not feel proud enough to truly celebrate the moment. I also would not get into SSE which at this point was my dream. In my eyes I had failed and I saw no reason to celebrate. It was forced and it felt it.

Since then I have realised there is a big different between when I should be proud and when I am actually proud of myself. I have come to realise that I have to celebrate and be proud of the moments that matter to me and not the ones that matter officially or to someone else.

Last year I got promoted at Google, my colleague asked me if I was particularly happy and I told him no I was not. I had not done anything in particular during the last year that I found unique and the promo was way overdue. I was happy about an increase in pay but not particularly proud over myself or any of my achievements. It was a tick in the box.

Instead I think about the moments where I was truly proud of myself and when I wanted to celebrate. They are very different. During the last few years I have started to celebrate my real successes.

For me success is when I do something that I didn’t think that I could do. It is when I surprise myself and feel like I have taken a big leap in life. It can be in any area and often it is outside of work.

When I graduated LBS my dad gave me a bottle of Champagne, Pol Roger the favourite brand of Winston Churchill. Just like my high school graduation I wasn’t particularly proud of my LBS graduation. I had completed a degree that I mostly know the contents of before and I had just gotten a job at Google Dublin, the future in my mind was very much uncertain.

It had stood at home waiting for the right moment. And one evening in 2016, three years after I graduated, I told my parents that it was time to drink it. There was nothing special about the evening but I felt that I had the right to celebrate. I had created a whole new life for myself in Dublin, I had done really…