The Overnight Success
by Alexa Francisco
“What we think of as overnight success is the brief, explosive blossoming that the rest of us get to see after years, if not decades, of hard work.” -Iain Thomas
I’ve been mulling over all things career-oriented lately, as I’ve been feeling pretty much anything but successful over the past couple weeks. Most of it’s stemming from fear and unmet expectations I’ve put on myself, but as I opened up to others about the subject I realized there was another contributing factor hiding in there, one that I don’t typically let get to me.
Of course, “success” is defined differently by everyone. But for the sake of this post, I want to talk about success as it relates to work. That is where my head has been at for quite some time now.
To me, as far as work is concerned, success is having the ability to live comfortably and pay my bills with money I have earned by doing a job that is meaningful to me. A job in which I can help others, express myself creatively, and continue to grow.
Those who I’ve talked to seem to be on the same page, though they have versions more specific to themselves… And though it might not sound like a particularly tall order to pay your bills doing something you care about, why is that? Because in truth, it’s a very tall order.
Satiating yourself completely by way of your chosen craft isn’t easy… But I think it ends up looking so when you live in a world that emphasizes “viral” success.
If you get on any form of social media you are likely to come across some sort of sensationalized overnight success story, or a get-rich-quick scheme, or “need-to-know” information on how to become famous on Instagram...
It’s not only bullshit, it’s a special kind of bullshit. One that makes us depreciate ourselves and what we do. And the reason is this-
When the majority of what we are exposed to is everyone else’s “instant” success, and we ourselves don’t end up garnering instant success for our work, we believe we have failed and that the game is over.
But guess what-
It’s easy to get caught up in comparing your behind-the-scenes with someone else’s highlight reel, especially when everyone can snap a photo and immediately stick their highlight reel up on the internet for all to see. But talk to someone, anyone, who has dedicated their life to making a living doing what they care about and they’re going to tell you that the game is far from over, that the kind of success you really want is going to take some good ole’ fashioned time and elbow grease.
“There ain’t no free lunches in this country. And don’t go spending your whole life commiserating that you got the raw deals. You’ve got to say ‘I think that if I keep working at this and I want it bad enough I can have it.’ It’s called perseverance.” -Lee Iacocca
If you want success you’ve got to put in your hours.
Hours that no one will recognize you for.
Hours in which you toil away alone, in which you press on, despite the lack of recognition or inspiration or money or whatever else is tempting you to believe that you failed and that it’s time to throw in the towel…
Those are the hours I’ve been putting in lately. And it’s scary. So far, my passions rule and I keep choosing to pursue the things I know my soul wants most. But I’d be blowing smoke up your ass and mine if I didn’t tell you that I think about quitting from time to time.
In the back of my head, I’m aware of the choices I’m making, and I’m aware of the ones I could be making, and it leads to a major internal debate when my insecurities are aggravated.
Currently, the two sides are these-
“Take that desk job you’ve been offered a hundred times and enjoy some comfort and predictability for once” vs. “If you think you’re having a hard time now, wait until you take that desk job”...
I love being able to wrap up my personal experiences for you guys and end them on uplifting notes and calls to action but the thing is that I can’t tell you how this one ends, whether I end up taking that desk job or not, because I’m in the middle of it. I’m a fan of balance, so maybe I can one feed off of the other until things level out a bit.
But whenever I’m feeling this confused, just as I’m sure you do, I look to those who I admire most for advice.
They aren’t typically the kinds of people who sat behind the desk forever…
“You only fail when you stop trying.” -Albert Einstien
by Alexa Francisco
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