By its very definition, success seems to run haphazardly, hand-in-hand, with competitiveness, doesn’t it? Something that might surprise you is that I often battle with the idea of ‘success’ and what it means to me and to others, and, how those two ideas work together. By trade, I’m a writer. In my non-blogging world of dreamy filtered photographs and rule-free written musings full of nonsensicals, I run a self-owned, self-run business that essentially sells perfectly tailored words to clients. And in itself, belonging to a creative field, I struggle every day with measuring success, feeling like I’m ‘enough’ and feeling like I should justify ‘what exactly it is I do’.
Let me tell you a story…
In 2011, when this here blog was in its baby years, I opened my emails one morning to find that Daisybutter had been shortlisted to win a Cosmopolitan Blog Award. Remember those days? The very first year of the awards? Little, little me and my little, little blog. I studied a semblance of Fashion Journalism at University and I battled all the time to feel like I was worthy of being a fashion student. I was too short, too geeky, too this, not enough of that. I battled all the time to feel like I could do the things I wanted to. And so it was, following the news of the shortlist, that one of my kind lecturers, an ex-Cosmo journo, sent a bulletin to my course asking the other 99 girls to support a peer and cast a vote.
‘Who does she think she is?’ ‘Is that the Chinese one?’ ‘What is a blog? It sounds dirty.’ ‘God, she must think she’s a D-list celebrity or something.’
All within earshot. All within 5 minutes of me sitting down in a lecture hall, quietly minding my own business and pretending like I didn’t exist. Like always. Quietly.
I had a choice that year whether to amp it up on the blog front and go ‘full time’ or pursue my other dream of being my own boss of my own company and, of course, selected the latter after being so discouraged by my peers. I felt a sudden need to prove myself beyond their words, beyond my precious blog and prove that I could be successful without their vote. There’s always some unspoken competition once you graduate to have the best job title, be part of the best company, right? But how about fighting against the tide and choosing happy? How about chasing those farfetched goals and ambitions from yesteryear, before all the chatter about the dreaded post-grad ten year plan? Find and remember those hopes and dreams and chase the hell out of them.
I suppose where I’m trying to go with this all is to clarify, on this unassuming Thursday, that success is whatever you make of it. It’s not about making sure you’re one step ahead of your peer or to make another feel lowly about themselves. It’s about building yourself up from the very first baby step, no matter how small. The moment I realised that there’s a billion and more opportunities and paths for each of us, the easier it became to stop gripping on to others’ success and letting myself be defined by it.