When I was young, I created an image of a successful woman. To me, a successful career woman looks like this:
Smart suit, high heels, carefully coiffed hair, perfect make up, armed with the latest laptop and a Bottega Veneta handbag, driving a BMW. In a position where I will be meeting important people, closing sales and collecting high commissions.
I had all of that except the car (hate driving). But that wasn’t me. I wasn’t happy. Don’t get me wrong, I had awesome opportunities, met lots of important people, created a vast network, travel in style and doing a lot of things that others can only dreamt of (like having an entourage of army escorting me from the airport or playing hooky with the police commissioner. I’m grateful for those experiences because it made me realised that it wasn’t what I wanted. I was uncomfortable because I was pretending to be someone I am not.
What made me happy is this:
I’m at my most happiest when I’m in tee and jeans, working in shifts at a call centre where it is the busiest and noisiest. The noise is bliss to me. The adrenaline I get from every call surges and hitting the customer satisfaction target gets me high every time. The close bonding I have with each of my teammates, the trust and respect I gained from them, the togetherness that we achieved while exceeding customer expectations. All these made me not want to log off work, I kept finding excuses to do overtime, 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 make up at all. What is important are results and how I achieve them.
By fitting into an image of success that I created in my head, I felt I was a hypocrite. A wolf dressed in sheep clothing. Pretending to be someone I am not.
I don’t like wearing heels at all. Right now if I have to choose between Christian Louboutin heels and flip flops. I’ll go for the flip flops.
I don’t like wearing make up. All that gloop caking on my face and I can’t even touch my face without worrying I’ll smug something.
I don’t like wearing tailored suits. It is hot in tropical South East Asia. At the end of the day, I’m wearing patches of sweat under my arms.
Sure, once in a while, I love to dress up, slap some blusher on but to sacrifice an hour of my sleep so I can look perfect for…. not me.
Now as a freelancer, I’m happy too! I do miss working in a team with all that noise and chattering. I do miss executing major projects with a huge group of hardworking smart people. I do miss after work suppers where the entire team group together over good food and bitch about everything and anything.
In exchange, I get to learn so much more things and conquer different projects under different clients in different industries. This is one aspect I will never get if I were to stay in one company and one industry. Satisfaction level is different, of course.
Being a freelancer, satisfying my clients is on a personal level. Then again, every failure or error is a personal learning experience that I get to keep and grow myself. During this journey, I learned about my own limitations and my working attitude with a deeper understanding. I learned to push and exceed those boundaries that I couldn’t do it in a company with process and regulations.
Overall, I learned to throw away that image of a successful career woman in my mind. And replace with a mindset “Don’t look at the surface. Go deeper. Then go deeper some more. Find yourself and you will find happiness bubbling up from within.”