As a 90s baby and Confirmed Definite Millennial, I began my working career during Sophia Amoruso’s Girl Boss era. It was a pink-gilded time of learning to navigate a male-dominated corporate and entrepreneurial world as a woman, clutching that handbook, and generally declaring that we were not like other girls.
What began as an empowering movement ended up leaving masses of women, many of whom were just starting out in their careers, feeling burned out, underachieving and struggling to navigate where or what was next. I’d know, because I’m one such casualty. ‘Girl Boss feminism’ was supposed to be our solution to sexism in workplaces; it appeared to empower and uplift women in a working world stuffed with men. But the reality was far different, and it led to gaslighting and gatekeeping and what is known as ‘choice feminism’. Without even realising, I was setting myself up for failure.
Girl Boss (n.):a woman who is self-made, running their own business, and acting as their own boss.
Of course I have successfully become and been my own boss for several years now. As a freelance copywriter and content editor, I work with brands and businesses to refresh their online copy and content. But at some point in 2020, I began to reckon with my ‘why?’ and it threw up many more questions for me. Deep in a burnout, working 14-hour days, I was clinging on to this senseless vision of being a boss, running my business and making it. But we’re not all set up to be that Girl Boss. Certainly a British-Chinese girl didn’t quite slot in to the original Sophia Amoruso image of a high-flying Girl Boss, clutching all things millennial pink.
Well, maybe the millennial pink was okay.
The movement soon became a toxic wasteland of hustle culture. We all had to get ahead in work, in status, in life. Yet the system was already in place. Girl Boss life just exacerbated that. No matter how many more clients I picked up, the gender pay gap and then the race pay gap already had me falling behind, which only made me more desperate and earnest to succeed.
Whatever that means.
Shockingly, several months of therapy later, I’ve realised that maybe I’m just a Girl Lier-Down. I’m driven, but to enjoy a balanced life. I’m the boss, but of my future. It’s completely fine to simply work a regular job, cook delicious fresh meals, have time to spend with loved ones, and enjoy unmonetised hobbies. Ambition is always in flux: sometimes we are vying for that salary rise (who wouldn’t, in this Cost of Living Crisis?) and at other times we’re dreaming of being home by 6.30pm for an evening in front of the TV eating Gigi Hadid’s vodka pasta.
Lately I’ve been craving stepping back. Stepping back from social media, where even if you take the pressure off yourself, the algorithm won’t. Stepping back from making every small idea into a business plan. Stepping back from making sure I hit weekly and monthly goals that mean zero. Stepping back from the constant comparison cycle of my timeline against theirs.
I’m officially in my Girl-Laying-Down era and I bloody love it.