When I was young, I created an image of a successful woman that looks like this:
To me, a successful career woman must be wearing a smart suit and high heels with carefully coiffed hair and perfect makeup. She should be using the latest gadgets and carrying fancy accessories like a Bottega Veneta handbag. She must also be driving expensive cars like a BMW or a Porsche. She should be holding a position where meeting important people, closing sales, and collecting high commissions are normal. This image of a stunning, successful career woman was my life goal before.
I had all of these things except for the car as I hate driving. After some time, I realized that this image I once admired wasn’t for me. I was not happy. Don’t get me wrong because during that time in my career, I had awesome opportunities and I met lots of important people. I managed to create a vast network, travel in style, and do a lot of things that others can only dream of, like having an entourage of army escorting me from the airport and playing hooky with the police commissioner. I’m truly grateful for those experiences because it made me realised that it wasn’t the career I wanted in the end. I was uncomfortable because I was pretending to be someone I am not.
I realised that what made me happy is this:
I’m at my happiest when I’m in tee and jeans, working in shifts at a call centre where it was the busiest and noisiest environment I could ever be in. That kind of noise is a bliss to me. The adrenaline I get from taking every phone call surges, and hitting the customer satisfaction target makes me high every time. I always love the close bond that I had with my teammates, the trust and respect I gained from them, the togetherness that we achieved while exceeding customer expectations. All of these made me not to want to log off from work and I kept finding excuses to do overtime just to hang around (until I received a warning from my bosses to go home!).
Nobody cares if I am carrying the most expensive bag or wearing makeup at all. What is more important for me are the results that I get and how I achieve all of it.
By fitting into an image of success that I created in my head, I felt I was a hypocrite. Like a wolf in a sheep’s clothing. I was pretending to be someone that I am not.
In reality, I don’t like wearing heels at all. If I have to choose right now between Christian Louboutin heels and flip-flops, I’ll go for flip-flops. It’s not just comfortable and inexpensive, but it’s more practical for everyday use.
Wearing makeup is not essential for me too. All that gloop caking on my face just makes me uncomfortable. Worse, I can’t even touch my face without worrying that I’ll smudge on something.
I also don’t like wearing tailored suits. Living in a tropical country in Southeast Asia and wearing a suit is not ideal at all. At the end of the day, I’m sure that I will be just wearing patches of sweat under my arms.
Of course, I love to dress up and apply some blush on once in a while. But to sacrifice an hour of my sleep every single day so I can look perfect for work… I just think it will not work for me.
Now as a freelancer, I am happy too! Of course, I miss working in a team with all that noise in the office, executing major projects with a huge group of hardworking and smart people, and bonding with my colleagues especially those after-work suppers where the entire team come together to share over good food and rant about everything and anything.
In my new career, I get to learn so many things and conquer various projects under different clients in diverse industries. This is one aspect that I will never obtain if I had stayed in one company and the same industry. Also, the satisfaction level that I get is very different.
As a freelancer, satisfying my clients is on a personal level. But then again, every failure or error I make becomes a personal learning experience too. These failures help me to be better and be wiser for the next opportunities to come. In this journey, I learned about my limitations and my working attitude with a much deeper understanding. I pushed and exceeded those boundaries that I couldn’t do before in a company with so many processes and regulations.
In the end, I learned to get rid of the image that I created before on what a successful career woman should be. I replaced it with a new mindset: “Instead of looking at the surface, go deeper. Find your true place by learning about yourself and go deeper within you. Once you know where your true calling is, you will surely shine as your happiness will bubble up from the inside-out.”
Best things in life are meant to be shared, start spreading MiddleMe around, after all, sharing is caring.