The concept of a career is something that has lived rent-free in my mind since I was as young as 15. From the moment I spoke to a careers advisor at secondary school, I became determined to chase the job I wanted at that time: a fashion writer. I remember when my school bullies found out the job I’d chosen – it was written on paper and left atop the teacher’s desk – and suddenly those same ‘It’ girls chastised and teased me non-stop, a quiet and geeky kinda student, for ever daring to believe I could make it in fashion.
And, the rest, is almost history.
We love a villain origin story where the underdog does the Thing no-one said they could. Years of intense hard work, a whole degree on the topic, unpaid internships (boo! No to these!!) and Real Grown-Up Jobs in the field later, my villain era is over.
On paper, I’m successful.
Following my chaotic, toxic hustling years, I started my own copywriting business for fashion brands and small creative business. I’ve now owned and operated a (profitable) freelance writing business for six years. From time to time I get to produce incredible content for brands via this blog. I eat well, exercise regularly, and read great books. I get to divide my time between quiet small town living and bustling London life. Yes, my villain era is truly over. But, as my twenties came to a close, I couldn’t help but constantly question myself: is this success? Whose idea of success is this?
Looking internally and with the help of my beloved counsellor, I started to realise that my career highs were only really highs in line with what other people saw of me. And this almost definitely stemmed from the hunger that grew in me as a teenager, desperate to prove her school bullies wrong. And, later, the urge to join the swarm of hashtag Girl Bosses and go against the grain but Doing It For Herself.
I’m incredibly lucky to have all of these wonderful work opportunities under my belt and a roster (god, are we all hearing that TikTok sound right now, or is it just me?) of five-star clients. In these recent years, I’ve felt an entire library of emotions. Guilt for having ‘so much’. Euphoria for finally having ‘got there’. Exhaustion from single-handedly running a small business. Anxiety rooted in financial fluxes. On paper, I was many people’s idea of success yet, day after day I felt unhappy, unaccomplished and unfulfilled.
Now that I’m in my early thirties, I can happily say that, despite all of that, I am happy to have let external validation consume me a little. I’m proud of all of the things I’ve achieved professionally to date, that I’m sure of. I suppose when you enter a new decade or even age a year, there’s little benchmarks and mini appraisals we all give ourselves. And maybe, just maybe, closing the curtain for a while on my freelance biz is just the change I’ve been craving.