Many people have unconscious goals that they don’t really want to acknowledge, and prestige seems to be a particularly common one.
I (Peter) wanted to be a doctor because I loved science and wanted to help people — or so I told everyone that asked.
But when I reflect on that, I think a larger part of my affinity for medical careers (larger than I wanted to admit) was driven by the associated status (and the hilarity of Scrubs)
Owning up to this helped me realise that I cared more about actually helping than about perception, which enabled me to pursue riskier but (I hope) more impactful paths.
Be careful with who you let influence you
It’s hard to change your own understanding of prestige, and it’s impossible to change your idea of success overnight.
However, it’s clear that our ideas of success are formed by the opinions of the people around us — what they value, what impresses them. etc.
You often have the opportunity to choose the circles that you spend time with and where you look for friends, especially if you’re starting something new, like college. This gives you power to shape your future priorities. What do you want them to be?