I have recently been asked to contribute to the Women Empowered Network monthly newsletter, Grit. The topic of the months was ’The Secret of My Success’.
I wanted to write for Grit, but I felt like a fraud. I wasn’t a successful woman (by society’s standards), how could I write about my success? What success was that?
I am thirty-seven, freelancing full-time in advertising while I am still fuffing around with writing The Love Project for over three years. I don’t have my own six figure business, I didn’t invent something new, I didn’t become a bestselling author, I haven’t solved crime, poverty, climate change, I am not a life coach or a human rights activist. My biggest achievement to date is getting married. What kind of feminist role-model, am I?
But maybe the point was not to try to make myself fit in today’s society standard of success but to ask myself what does success mean for me. I decided to flip this on its head and redefine the notion of ’success’.
When I quit my job three years ago, I envisaged a writing life ahead of me. Instead, I am still freelancing full-time to finance my writing dream and I’m working harder than ever. A career in advertising is not what I have been looking for, so I don’t have a fancy title next to my name. All I ever wanted was to write. And the fact that three years later I’m still putting energy and love into my book makes me a success. I am successful because I wake up every morning, get on that train with all the other commuters, work hard all day, and I still write on stolen time. The fact that I never stopped writing, that I never once contemplated not making my book better, not improving my craft or not pushing on to get one step closer to publication makes me a success. Success is not just the finished product. It’s also all the steps in between.
Maybe we, modern women, are not supposed to dream about marriage and children to live a fulfilled life, but just because we’re not talking about it, it doesn’t mean we don’t crave it. I grew up with an alcoholic and abusive father and with a mother who suffered from mental health issues because of my father’s abuse. Whether I admitted it or not, I was damaged by my parents’ relationship. I grew up with a huge hole in my heart that nothing but the love of man would fill. This is why I started The Love Project and this is why I think love plays an essential role in our assessment of a successful life.
Love, just like career, is a defining element of success. So, yes, I consider getting married to a man who loves me and supports me in every way the biggest achievement to date. To me, success is not measured in the richness of the world but in the richness that we carry inside.
What about you? What is your own definition of success?
You can read the article I wrote for Grit here.