Sarah Paulson recently did an interview with GQ magazine on succeeding too early in your career. My initial thought was, don’t worry Ms. Paulson, I’m definitely not.
The bolded interview headers were witty, to the point and entirely too relatable. From “don’t keep calm, but carry on” to “true success is: naps”, Paulson really hits the nail on the head when it comes to navigating this weird idea of success.
Her first point struck a chord with me.
I think as a junior in college, I have this wacky notion that everything I touch or write my name on is going to magically spin itself into gold. And it’s just not.
Journalists and writers have consistently planted into my head the idea that I’m going to have to suffer through a lot of no’s and shut downs before someone actually gives me a chance. Not everything I write is going to speak to someone. Not everything I think is going to ignite a flame in someone else.
Writers sometimes have massive egos and are incredibly self centered. We write essays, manuscripts, blog posts (just like this one), etc. hoping that it’ll touch another heart. But at the end of the day, we write for ourselves.
Trying to share this kind work is painstakingly difficult. It’s personal, it’s raw and real. When it is forced against the cold hand of rejection, well, it’s devastating. But we have to share our words. If we don’t, we’re all just losers hiding in dark rooms, listening to George Ezra while eating peanut butter and rewriting the same few paragraphs seven times (at least I am, anyways).
I want to make sense of the next two ish years of college I have left to navigate through. I don’t mean make a plan or have a narrow path I stick to. Instead, I want to brew ideas and watch them erupt into unimaginable opportunities. It’s an obnoxiously vague declaration but what is so beautifully terrifying about being vague is that you never know where it’s going to take you.
I do not measure my success in terms of GPA or how “hard” my class load seems. I measure my current success by the distance I travel outside of “the norm”. College is one big step/trip/fall out of your comfort zone, after all.
I’ve handed out twelve business cards in the last two weeks. Each unique business card handed out has a conversation attached to it. Each missing card from my stack means I swallowed my fear, marched up to someone and engaged in a conversation that was deemed meaningful enough for that person to want my email address.
This school opens an incredible amount of doors for me, but it is still my responsibility to introduce myself and step through them. Sometimes I’m delighted by what’s on the other side. And sometimes, I’m asked to turn around and walk back out while letting it shut behind me.
That’s where I think all of this success shenanigans that everyone talks about is hiding; behind closed doors. And even when one closes and you’re walking away wondering how anyone finds success or pissed that you tripped over the Welcome mat, just remember there’s another one. And another one. And they might not even have dangerous Welcome mats. But they might also be locked sliding glass doors. That you might run into. And break your nose.