Write Your Own Story

Research shows that even extremely successful women struggle with self-doubt in the work place.

In an article I recently read, Barbara Stanny, the author of Secrets of Six Figure Women, shares how many of the thousands of  women she interviewed struggle with fear and feeling like a fraud.

“I was struck by how often they made the same observation. In the world of work, men walk in feeling entitled, sure everyone knows it and tend to take bigger risks. Women, on the other hand,  feel flawed, sure everyone sees it, and tend to hold back.”  Forbes Magazine

Her words got me thinking about my dear friend Susan who dreamed of owning a high-end women’s clothing boutique from the time she was old enough to hobble around in her mother’s high heels.

write your own story


But Susan was born into a family where advanced degrees were the norm. Since she was a people pleaser rather than a risk taker she took the traditional route of going to an Ivy League school, getting a law degree and working ridiculously long hours so that she could become a partner in a prestigious law firm.

Over the years, although Susan acquired an abundance of money, her spiritual meter was running on empty.

By the time she reached her 40th birthday, she had come to grips with the fact that not following her heart was making her sick. She finally made the decision to jump ship and leave corporate life.

Within a few weeks of giving notice, Susan found the perfect space to rent, hired some young female architects to design the store that had been percolating in her brain, and accessed her creative spirit in ways that she hadn’t experienced since childhood.

Susan has an uncanny talent for dressing women in stunning clothes that suit their body type, style, and personality. But her mission goes deeper than that. It includes opening us females up to our inner beauty, accepting our imperfections, and embracing the essence of who we are.

Every time I visit the store, I marvel at her innate ability – how she is able to transform a stressed out, unhappy woman who walks through her door into a smiling and satisfied client by the time she leaves.

Susan listens, connects, and reflects back to the women the best of who they are. They feel heard and understood – which is a rare commodity.

Susan has plenty of naysayers who go out of their way to try to make her feel less than successful. And there are moments when she still experiences the nagging voice of self doubt. But countless times, I’ve witnessed how she picks herself up, acknowledges how blessed she is to be doing work that she loves and returns to the store with a renewed determination to continue growing her baby into a thriving successful retail empire, as well as a sanctuary for healing the female psyche.

As far as I’m concerned, Susan has already won the lottery. She has connected with and listened to her instincts. She is having a profound effect on thousands of womens lives –  so much so that some women trek 2 hours to get to her boutique.

So many women could benefit from using Susan as a model and learn not to live out others stories of what your life should be.

Instead- write your own story – and live it.

What are some of the issues you grapple with in writing your own story?


Photo Courtesy of John O’Nolan


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  1. Hi Fran,

    Yes, we may struggle with fears and self doubts but I presume all people do. Some share their fears and insecurities but some keep them closely guarded. I think it is better to recognise your doubts as that is the first step to dispel them.It may take a long time to come to terms with your real passions but the moment we resolve to follow them, that is the decisive moment!

    The story of Susan illustrates very well that we can make our own paths and tread them confidently. Thanks for sharing a very inspiring story.

    • Balroop – I’m delighted that you’ve stopped by again to comment. I agree that every human being -regardless of their sex- has to deal withfears and that facing up to them is a first step in moving forward and doing what your heart tells you to do. But the truth also is this: women- even those that are successful – experience a significant degree of self doubt and lack of entitlement. Whether we are genetically wired this way, pick up on cues from the time we are out of the womb or both (which I think it is), it’s important to talk about our fears without shame and support each other. Warmly, Fran

  2. Hi Fran,

    Love this story. It takes courage to make that change. I wanted, but also felt programmed to a degree to become a teacher. I had urgings to go into counseling when I was in college, but chose the safe path. While I enjoyed the experience of teaching and working with kids, being a counselor may have been something I would have liked better. Now that I’m a coach, I find that I really enjoy working with parents and it is closely aligned to my original goal. Thanks for the great reminder to be all that you can be.

    • Cathy – It is amazing how many of us took the conventional routes to get to where we are today. I come into contact with a lot of young women and am still amazed, regardless of what they are doing, how self doubt is part of their repertoire. It’s important that they not only work through their fear and take risks – which most do – but that they have female mentors who guide, nudge, and inspire them to be and do what they deeply care about – a big hug – Fran

  3. How many times over the centuries have the sages said, follow your heart, follow your bliss…yet for many women it’s more about following expectations of others. What a wonderfully inspiring story of your friend Susan. I know it’s going to be greatly encouraging for other women wondering about their life path. Thank you Fran, for sharing. 🙂

    • Elle- You are both a student and teacher of the sages and old wisdom. Unfortunately, the noise and power of our culture far outweigh what most young women hear to be ‘the way to success, acceptance, and happiness’ from the world. And as i wrote in another comment, the female species may also be genetically wired with a high need for acceptance. Either way- it’s important to discuss and have souls in the constellation such as you dear Elle- who continue to act as a voice of consciousness to help others on their journey. xo-Fran

  4. I find this especially important, Fran: “Susan listens, connects, and reflects back to the women the best of who they are. They feel heard and understood – which is a rare commodity.”

    I’ve spent most of my life trying to live up to others’ expectations too. Not surprising, right? I eventually connected with what I love, writing as a way to help others gain clarity. But, now I feel like I’m going through another evolution. So, we’ll see!

    Thanks, this is an important article.

    • Sandra-
      All of us just want to be ‘listened to and heard’. And yet it is indeed a rare commodity.
      How exciting that you are going through another evolution. As I always say, let the wild rumpus start. Am looking forward to witnessing it. xo- Fran


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