“On social media, we all want to be seen as ducks, a term researchers at Stanford University came up with to convey how, like the animal, young women want to be seen as gliding serenely along, but in fact under the surface are paddling ferociously.” –The #LuckyGirl Hashtag Makes Effort a Social-Media Taboo, The Atlantic
Effortless perfection. By itself, it almost seems like an oxymoron. How can one achieve a perfect state without trying? And whenever we put effort into something, aren’t we working toward a state of (often unachievable) perfection? It’s really and truly impossible, and yet, it’s something that many of us strive for: especially as a woman, and a millennial, and someone in a space that judges fiercely on appearance. (See: notes on personal brands.)
Confession: I like being seen as a duck. A boss once complimented me on my “calm confidence,” and that has been my apex of compliments ever since. And because many things in my life are working out quite well, I’m tempted to write it off as luck: I’m lucky that I met a man I love, and I’m lucky to be moving into a beautiful new apartment, and I’m lucky to have a job that pays me well and gives me health insurance, and I’m lucky to have a blog that creates opportunities for me to do things that I love. I’m the luckiest girl in the world!
I offer up luck as the first reason, the easiest way to assume that state of effortless perfection. I didn’t do anything to deserve this! It just happened because the stars aligned and I happened to be in the right place at the right time! I’m just like you! But to some extent–especially after reading that article in The Atlantic and perhaps thinking a little deeper about my own actions–I wonder if that’s a disservice.
Because I actually decided to get serious about meeting someone and joined OKCupid and spent an evening answering all of those algorithm questions about who you are and what you’re looking for–and then I spotted someone who was a 99% match, and so I messaged him. Aka: this was not a meet-cute.
Because after spending hours upon stressful hours on Streeteasy, and setting up a dozen walk-throughs criss-crossed over Brooklyn in a day, and dashing to the bank in the middle of the day to get a cashier’s check to secure our application, and three teeth-grinding days of waiting: we got the apartment.
Because I wake up early every morning to come into an office to answer (so, so, so many) emails, schedule conference calls, organize projects, draft legal paperwork, and deal with things gone right and things gone awry: I get a paycheck every other week.
And because I have kept with this blog for more than five years. I wrote when no one was reading, and I traveled when no one else was paying for it.
In today’s day and age, it’s easy to lean on luck and to filter a photo of effortless perfection. But it also feels darn good to own your accomplishments: to take credit for all of the “lucky” things that happen to you, and to truly believe that it wasn’t just the stars aligning but it was your hard work that made that magic.