When we hear about women who have overcome adversity, the examples we are given are entrepreneurs who are making 6 figure incomes, authors of best selling books and speakers who draw audiences in their thousands. They are the visible faces of what women can achieve when dealt a shit hand in life. They are the visible faces of resilience and success.
What about the rest of us? What about the quiet achievers? What about the single mums who are working two jobs, or subsisting on welfare payments to raise their kids alone? Who struggle carrying the mental load of a whole family on their own, remembering all the appointments of their kids with special needs and all the after school activities and trying to have a go of their business in between all of that. Trying to carve out precious hours to attend a networking event while delivering one child to the train station and finding somewhere for the other child to be until she gets home and until he has to be at his after school activity.
What about the women in abusive relationships, trying to figure out a way out, while pretending everything is OK and managing their kids mental health issues? And the women who have tried to start a family for decades with no success and who keep being reminded daily of how their body has failed them?
I’ve met many women like this. I am a woman like this. We are not invited to speak at events, we are not interviewed for books or magazines, but we are bloody amazing for just keeping going, for just getting through each day.
You may not know that I live with mental illness, which makes some days a struggle, but has never stopped me from doing what I need to do. For myself, for my boys and for my clients. I don’t miss deadlines and my work is of the highest quality. While that might be the norm for everyone else, that is an amazing achievement for someone living with adversity. And while no-one might acknowledge it, I have to, for my own self-esteem. And if it is you, too, then pat yourself on the back and say, “Well done, me!”.
The common theme I notice about quiet achievers is that we all want a better life for ourselves and/or our children. We may live with adversity, but we believe in a better future, if not for ourselves, then for our children. We keep going because we believe there is no other option. We don’t believe in giving up. Some of us have great support networks, some of us don’t, but we all believe things must get better.
We might not achieve “great” things in the eyes of the world, but for us the great thing might be keeping our children alive, well and emotionally well adjusted. It might be keeping them out of jail, away from drugs and in school. Yes, I would love for us to live in our own home, have a nice new car and be able to travel more, but really all I want is for my kids to be happy, safe and gainfully employed or at school.
For me life is not about material gain, like so many business coaches and entrepreneurial gurus would have you believe. They bait you with their huge homes on the beach, private planes and the best private schools money can buy. But is that what you really want? What do you really want? What does your heart of hearts truly desire? What would make you really happy? What does really matter? What can you live without?
We’ve all done the perfect day exercise at some stage and yes, living that for the rest of my life would be lovely, but it is not necessary. I do not need it to be happy.
The fact that I can successfully get through each day and through each challenge that life throws at me is a testimonial that I am doing something right, that I am a successful human being. And so are you.