There's one good thing about building your life from the dirt up, you recognize the bottom and the people you met there. You respect it, and them. And while you don't want to live there, you know it says more about you than anything else you will ever do.
I've had five careers in my life. Not jobs. Careers. I've had two others that didn't pan out. I've been told that I'm a lucky girl. One with good timing, and friends in the right places. I've been labeled a serial career girl (as if that were a bad thing).
I call myself a girl who is not afraid to shoot for the hoop and make a fool of herself. A blessing and a curse.
I've been a self-imposed fool many times over. So many, that I'm as smart as a whip these days. It's about damn time that I say that out loud.
I'm not lucky. Nor, have I just been in the right place at the right time. It wasn't the people I knew or the connections I had. These theories are lies that come from people who tell themselves this to make them feel better about not being where I am.
Unless you've inherited your fortune, if you're successful, it's because you worked your butt off on an idea you believed in. Period.
I was born and brought up one step up from dirt poor. My mother and I lived in a tiny, one bedroom hovel of an apartment. I lived there until I was 18, sleeping in my mom's bed until I married. Life wasn't unbearable. I was a happy kid, very much loved by my young single mom. But I was gravely disadvantaged.
I was recently at a luncheon where a group of women commended me on my success and marveled at how lucky I had been in life, and how well I had I played the game. The conversation was condescending and arrogant. When I was a kid, I always wanted to be like them, women of good breeding, fine clothes, beautiful hair, skin and jewelry. None of them had ever been in the work place. They were there to contribute to charities on behalf of their husbands fortunes.
Game? There's no game. There was just open thinking, hard work, endless days, fear, doubt, risk, and a boatload of hope. There was a lot of trust in myself, especially when few others did. No game, no tricks, no luck, connections, or favors. Just me, my dreams, high expectations and the thought that I might someday amount to something better than what I was.
I shared those sentiments with them, calmly. I'm pretty sure I'm off their Christmas list for next year. It wasn't pride that spoke out. It was a need to set the record straight. To enlighten an ignorance. To right a wrong.
Give a girl some credit. Some long overdue credit. I, like so many others, have worked for what I have and where I am. I didn't depend on the kindness of strangers, love, or family. But I was happy to receive it when it passed my way.
I am by no means a wealthy woman. Not if you define wealth by a million plus in the bank. But I make a very respectable living and my wealth is found in my family, friends, experiences, and the love I have been fortunate enough to find.
I want to say out loud that chance-taking saved me. More than once. Even when I fell on my face. It gave me hope. It inspired me to try. It took me, always, to a higher level.
My success, anyone's success, isn't preordained or acquired by a stroke of luck. Hell no. It isn't who we know, but rather who we are, that makes the difference in our life path.
For those who would pigeon hole me and place a judgment on me that would diminish my accomplishments or efforts, take a number and stand at the back of the line.
Success has its price, no lie. But being self-made is indeed a priceless place to live and I like it just fine.
On behalf of women everywhere, if you're not inclined to take a chance, then have a seat, and make room for those of us who dare to dream that we might one day make it happen.
What does luck have to do with success? Not one damn thing.
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