by Jess Soothill
As someone who has been working and socialising in and around the parenting, lifestyle and fashion blogging and social media scene for the last four years (yes, I therefore DO remember the days before Instagram when we all hung out on Twitter), there’s been something that has stood out for me. And that’s how humble you ‘have’ to appear to be in order to grow your following, or business, or side hustle, or career. It’s like, “Sssssssh don’t tell anyone out loud that you’re ambitious — keep it a secret and just be really appreciative for everything that happens to you; like it’s all just fallen into your lap and you’ve no idea how you got here”.
It appears that the nicer, friendlier and more ‘grateful’ you are for what you have achieved in your life, the better you come across to other women. I see women time and time again (online and IRL) playing down their huge achievements and successes, rather than being outwardly proud of where they are and what they have built up.
Which, I feel, is quite ironic at a time when we’re constantly being told by social media and the press, “Be anything you can be”, “You CAN run your own business/hustle” and “You can have it all, so go for it”.
Quite simply though, it’s rare that women achieve such huge successes without a clear strategic plan, financial support, a strong team/support network behind them, right? And it also requires years of hard work, effort, drive, support, and a tonne of resilience. It’s just that we don’t see a great deal of this being shared.
I get it though. Saying you’re ambitious (out-loud) means you could be perceived by others as a money-grabber. Someone who isn’t very warm and fluffy? A possible threat to others too? People might talk about you in their circles, and take a dislike you? However, I believe it’s really important to talk about ambition more (and why we want it), as well as how we are planning to achieve our goals. If you talk to other people about your ambition, your drive and your passions, it actually encourages others to achieve their dreams too. It’s quite infectious. We need to be around (and rubbing shoulders) alongside like-minded people, if, we too, want success.
I have, myself, been really honest about my own ambition during my life, here on this blog. In my twenties and early thirties I was ambitious; I did seek to be promoted and strived to earn a high salary. Over a 10 year period I worked my way up within my chosen career of Human Recourses (HR) and often enjoyed the thrill of a new, challenging job. I wasn’t always highly confident in everything I did though (I had jobs where I was WAY out of my depth), but I always got on with it and learnt a lot from those mistakes. I was a very driven woman.
After I had the twins I didn’t go back to working in that environment as we could manage on my husbands salary, plus I truly wanted to be at home at that point. However, after two years of being a Stay-at-home-Mum, I craved something else to get me fired up in my belly again (I also needed a different outlet/challenge aside from parenting). I guess that’s why my blog and my social media following grew, because I was putting a lot of time and energy into it. But, in those early years, the children still always came first and I was happy with my work fitting in around motherhood.
Now though, things feel much, much different. The twins are six (seven later on this summer) and at school full-time. They still need me, but far less, and my role as a Mother has changed — it is less demanding, physically and mentally. I also feel as though I’ve done what I wanted with my blog and social media and reached a point of needing to change things up a little. I have thus been looking around and planning new things to be involved in — to have a career again. I am ready for a new venture, and, quite honestly, I am ready to be ambitious again.
I read a fabulous book, by Helena Morrissey, ‘A Good Time To Be A Girl’ about being a career woman — she’s a former CEO and founded the 30% Club, a cross-business initiative to achieve better gender-balanced UK company boards — and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Hearing another woman admit to enjoying working at a high level and talking about her achievements has been so useful and inspiring. I also enjoy podcasts about what success means to different people, and how and why they work hard to get there.
So, it IS okay to be ambitious. It’s okay to discuss it and be open about it too, for whatever you choose to pursue. It’s also more than okay if you’re not, or never have been, either. We’re all different and you have to do you. But, if you do want more out of work and life then don’t be afraid to admit it and to go and find people who feel exactly the same.
Written by Editor, Jess Soothill