Katie Kubitz
a place for life and letters


a penpal's point of view

Leading Lady

Leading Lady
Leading Lady

{image: james k lowe}

Dear Ladies,

Brace yourselves, this one's a novel.

I have recently read a number of articles about women feeling pressured.

  • Here by Emily Schuman, of Cupcakes and Cashmere, on pressure to hit life milestones by prescribed ages.
  • Here by Zosia Mamet, from Girls,on pressure to be successful.
  • Here by Rosa Brooks, a law professor at Georgetown University, on pressure to do it all.

The last two articles are in response to a very particular book that puts very particular pressure on women in a very unclear and all-encompassing way. Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In is a chaotic call to action and serves as the catalyst for feeling pressured.

For starters, I couldn't finish Lean In because it was so confusing. I'm sure Sheryl means very well and wants to empower women, but in an effort to avoid putting her foot in her mouth, she is unbearably wishy-washy. Amanda Hess, a Slate staff writer, points out the contradictory nature of the book very poignantly in this article so I won't go into detail, but please be aware that as I parsed through Lean In, I kept saying to myself, "Make up your mind Sheryl!"


{Zosia, Emily, Rosa}

I have to believe that Sheryl's intended message was that every woman's story is unique and that there is no blanket answer for how to tackle your career, your family, or your personal struggles. Hopefully she meant to encourage women to navigate situations based on their personal definitions of success. At least that is how the three women above have decided to move forward. The moral of each of their stories is that success is open to interpretation.

Arianna Huffington apparently agrees. In this interview she did for Darling Magazine, Arianna states that we should "include our own well-being in our definition of success." This means that for someone like Sheryl doing it all and being in a powerful position at a competitive company is success. She is successful by her standards. However, it also means that for someone like me who doesn't know what her definition is yet, success is uncharted and will, hopefully, change over time.

"You're supposed to be the leading lady of your own life, for god's sake!"

Either way, regardless of how you define success, I think that Iris, Kate Winslet's character in The Holiday, put it best when she said, "You're supposed to be the leading lady of your own life, for god's sake!" Be the leading lady! What a great illustration of how to live a life that is purely your own. I know that pressure will manage to sneak in and that I'll continue to be swayed by other women's definitions of success, but when all is said and done, I will only be my happiest when I am living a life that want to live. Now I just need to figure out what I want...

Planning on continuing that search by reading Arianna's book, Thrive. Here's hoping I can finish this one.

Have you figured out what success means to you? Are you living a life that is authentically your own?

xx Katie