I cringed this morning, when I read a newsletter of events happening around the city. The information showcased a list of talks conducted by people who have “made it”. Some have been overbooked already — people flock to these talks, hoping some inspiration and luck might rub off on them.
I switched on the hater attitude and deleted these newsletters from my email inbox.
Mark Zuckerberg has made it, from college drop out to billionaire!
Women have made it to the top – read “Lean In” to figure out how to do it!
Timothy Ferris arose from obscurity to widely-read author!
Gwyneth Paltrow recovered from depression, and so did Stephen Fry!
This entrepreneur, that athlete, this corporate executive, that chef, this ambassador, that academic…
However, when do we talk about those who are “making it” and are work in progress? Who goes to listen to them talk?
It is as if, for some sort of credibility and for people to give up a few minutes to listen to our stories, we must have accomplished a goal approved by the society.
This past summer, I was a co-host at a dinner at a local activity center. It was a collaboration with a chef, who created a menu inspired by my story of depression, and another lady who managed the entire event. 25 people came to the dinner, listening to me talk about going into a rut, being in it, and how to get out of it.
The theme was “Transformation” and how I transformed. But have I?
Not to discount the struggles and the improvements I have made over the last three years, I would say I am still “work in progress” and “making it.” – whatever “it” is.
Transformation takes time.
Success is not a linear equation.
Accomplishing requires meandering, a lot of random squiggles on the map, and jumping from one place to another.
When we attend these talks, we hear others’ stories, and in our heads we imagine a straight line from disaster to rejuvenation. In reality, those who have “made it” are also struggling one way or another; we just do not see it. I was mindful of pointing out to my audience not to regard me as having made it when recounting my depressive episode during the dinner-talk.
Today I could stand before you and be engaging; tomorrow I might be a fragile lump with headaches and exhaustion.
Take encouragement from “made it” stories, but do not exaggerate the significance. You are already making it.
Be kind to yourself. The world can wait.