• Fri, Jan 27 2012
  • Jen

    If it helps, you have people on the other side of the United States who read The Gloss and see your name and think, “Oh, Amanda Chatel! I love her stuff.” And then read it, and enjoy it. I’d say that makes you some sort of success!

    • Kristen H.

      I second this! I stalked around your website the other day because I enjoyed your posts so much. I think we all feel this way to some degree. And if you don’t, you’re a tool. :)

    • Amanda Chatel

      I’m madly in love with you both! Thank you!

    • Christie

      Yep, totally agree. I love your writing style and humor. You should count yourself as lucky for following what you want to do in life and not what someone else thinks you should do.

    • Nancy

      Here here! I fourth this, I love your stuff!

    • Jennifer Wright

      Want to hear a story about Colette and Voltaire and Truman Capote? I KNOW YOU DO!

      So, Truman goes to visit Colette as a very young man. He idolizes Colette for obvious reasons. And Colette is sitting with him and very nicely asks him what he wants to be. Truman replies that what he wants to be, more than anything else is “a genuine grown-up.” And Colette just shakes her head and says “oh, my dear boy, no one, not even Voltaire was ever a genuine grown-up.” She suggests he stick to writing.

      Was this story relevant? I can’t tell.

    • Megan

      I’m 28, married, mother of one, stay at home. Built a house in the suburbs, husband has a nice career, we manage to live quite well–money for leisure pursuits, no pressure for me to return to work, etc. Went to college, did well. By all standards, a True Grown-Up.

      And I feel like a complete failure. Every time someone says, “But you’re a mother! That’s the most important thing!” I restrain myself from punching them in the face. I love my husband, but I got married too young and am only now starting to realize what’s important to me and how I want to build myself. I am infinitely jealous of single friends who can pick up and move across the country, or young married friends who manage to have their birth control work. I love my son–but I also miss the freedom that comes with not having to get a sitter. I regret all that I did not do in life–all the way back to, “God, I should have worked harder in high school.” My younger brother still makes me feel like a bumbling idiot. And I feel old, on the shelf, and not fun.

      All those trappings of Grown-Up suck. Maybe I did them all too soon, but I’m the sum of those things. And I would give just about anything to redo, and be Grown-Up on my own terms. Every time someone tells me that I’m doing just fine, I feel as though I should just break out the soccer mom haircut, elastic-waist jeans, and minivan RIGHT NOW.

      So I say…don’t be in a rush of any freakin’ kind to reach the kind of milestones you’re “supposed” to achieve as an adult. I view my friends who took their time in college, or lived in a bunch of places, or decided to date just for the hell of it with infinitely more adult respect than I do myself–the person who’s hit the conventional milestones.

    • Amanda Chatel

      Jennifer Wright, your stories are always relevant.

    • Gracie

      There are people on the other side of the world who read The Gloss and see your name and think, “I’m going to read that just because it has Amanda Chatel’s name on it.” Who might have different dreams but love reading about modern SUCCESSFUL women. I’m a New Zealand college student and I think that you’re a success.

  • NotThumper

    Hey, get out of my head! Seriously, I could have written this to some degree. There was so much I wanted to do and somehow few of those things have happened.
    I do think that success is a word whose definition is different for everyone. You have the ability to write articles that loads of people see and admire. Sounds successful to me! I’m jealous! ;)
    Not everyone succeeds at everything they planned for themselves, if you manage to succeed at at least one thing, you are doing better than a lot of people I know!

  • TulipJ

    Are we the same person? Let me share what I did this morning. I googled the shit out of Lena Dunham and in turn wanted to hang myself. As if the weather in NYC today isn’t awful enough on its own, now I was reading about all these amazing accomplishments a woman almost TEN YEARS YOUNGER than me has already racked up. Over and over I said to myself, She’s 24?!?!? 24. No way. What…the fuck?!?! Goddamnit!!!!!!

    And here is where I think the problem lies. We live in a society obsessed with youth. There are countless lists for things like, The Hottest 25 Under 25. The 30 Under 30 to Watch in Tech. 20 Under 25 Top Earners. And on and on. Miu Miu used a 15-year-old in their last ad campaign. Marc Jacobs used a 13-year-old. Lena Dunham has a Goddamn series on HBO at 24!!! And it’s because of this constant onslaught of these people who have experienced great success at such a young age that we start to feel that if we haven’t achieved the same, we’re complete and total failures by 30-35. I work as a freelancer as well and I’m completely guilty of this way of thinking, especially since I’ve been extremely under-employed since 2009.

    Just think, Julia Child didn’t start cooking until 36. And if it makes you feel better, sheets with a lighter thread count are actually better for your skin because it lets it breathe during the night. The heavier the sheet, the more it “suffocates” and clogs up your skin. So there’s that!

  • Jinx

    Successful or not, you are by no account boring or ordinary. And that’s what matters.

  • D.

    Do you think you feel like you aren’t successful because you know your potential? To tell you the truth, sometimes I feel that way. Living up to that potential, is easier said than done, but it is yours to take control of. I look at you writers and I see success. When I teach girls in my after school and mentor programs about success, I bring up writers, I think of you. Maybe not you specifically, but the women pursuing something they are amazing at, independent, intelligent, opinionated, and talented women.

  • MR

    Someone once said: “I never met a person who was happy in their life who wasn’t happy in their job.”. If you like writing then continue to write – and please don’t compare yourself to anyone. The key to a successful life is enjoying it. Yeah the City is very expensive. When I young it was so inexpensive, but there was so much poverty all around you – we lived in this four street wide enclave that ran about 25 blocks – from the Brooklyn Bridge up to Red Hook. Everything outside of it was a low income ghetto. It’s much better now, and not just because it benefits my family. There were a lot of people who had no jobs and no future back then. So put your head up, you’re doing just fine. I think in the end – and you got a long way to go – the question you ask yourself is: “Do you think your life’s contributions made a difference?”. I can honestly answer “yes”, but I got 15 years on you. So you got plenty of time. :)

    • MR

      PS. Jinx is right. I think you’re writing is edgy, I mean in a good way, and is very distinct from anyone else’s.

  • Kj

    Man, I feel your pain, and I am only 26.

    I figured out a while ago that everyone has their own path to walk and you have to accept and embrace that.

    I’ve been struggling lately, though. I see my friends that can afford expensive vacations and I think about the things that I want to do, but can’t, because my crappy job doesn’t allow me the time. And yeah, it sucks. And what people above have said about youth being valued is very, very true. You feel like if you haven’t made it by 20, then you are never going to make it ever! Which isn’t true, of course.

    I think that the majority of people feel this way. I know that I do.

    Anyways, my point is, I think you should count yourself successful, in that you have made a lot of random people feel better about themselves by reading this :)

    (I’ll look for your book someday!)

  • Allison

    Amanda, you have such an engaging, witty narrative style that really gets at the heart of what many of your readers are feeling (clearly). We really appreciate what your write and especially this kind of honesty. Why don’t you clean up your manuscript, or write something new, self-publish it and promote it on the gloss? I’d read it. My ereader is waiting expectantly…

  • ikea

    I think happiness and success aren’t mutually inclusive. A successful person can be totally miserable, and a “failure” of a person can be happy. It depends on if you live your life according to your own standards or follow society’s (and I think the vast majority of people are not aware there’s difference). Getting a book deal will make you happy for a short time, and then you’ll want more and feel unsuccessful again if you don’t get another book deal. It’s an endless cycle, but you know that already.

    Really, what is success? Being better than the majority of people? There are so many factors that go into being successful at something that are out of your control, like genetics. There can only be one person who is the best. Therefore we have to settle for second best or 103155th best, and live with the hope that maybe we’ll move up to 103154th best someday.

    To be happier, I think we have to stop comparing ourselves to other people and start comparing ourselves to ourselves. Challenge yourself against yourself vs. working to beat other people.

    At the same time, I don’t think the ultimate goal in life is constant happiness. We could easily invent some sort of system to keep people permanently drugged and in a state of euphoria since the day they were born. Theoretically you would be happy your entire life, floating away in your own mind. But really, you wouldn’t be happy because you have no unhappiness to compare it to. You would be nothing, you might as well be dead. The struggle between gaining and losing is what makes you appreciate life.

    Of course if you have only the worst in life, that’s not great either. You can only hope that you’re not entirely sure you have the worst life of any human. You cannot predict in any way, shape or form how your life would have improved or worsened had you made different decisions in life. Maybe you would have become a famous actress… who then got hit by a bus driven by a stalker and lived the rest of her life in agonizing pain. Who knows?

    I say: Give up hope and regret. They change nothing.

  • Amanda Chatel

    Well then… I have to say all these positive comments have made me feel successful. If I could invite you all over for cupcakes and wine, I would.
    Thank you!

  • Elaine

    Amanda, you are brave and honest and that is to be admired. I don’t know if anyone ever truly feels “successful”. There’s always more that we think we can do. There’s always something we would change and there’s always someone who does something better than we do it. For the people who read your work (me included and I am the CEO of B5 media), you brighten and entertain us a few words at a time. Wouldn’t you call that success? I do!

    • Amanda Chatel

      Elaine, you’re so awesome. Thank you so much for your kind words!

  • Shops

    I’m right there with you. I feel that everyone else is more successful and happier then I am. I have 2 younger siblings who are more successful then I am. I moved out years ago, only to move back home in my 30s. From a 1 bedroom apartment to a tiny bedroom, which barely fits my bed and a dresser.

    Now at 35, I make just over minimum wage. I’m sure that this status of mine doesn’t whisper into the ears of eligible men how great of a catch that I am.

    It gets depressing, but I’m trying to keep my head up, and think that things could be a lot worse….as I complain to my doctor that my eggs are getting rotten!!

    I wish you all the luck possible on your journey :)

  • Adrienne

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts! As a 33 – nearly 34 year-old – who is still trying to figure it all out, it is comforting to hear that there’s someone else out there just like me. Thanks for your honesty and candid thoughts. I’m still waiting to feel successful too – waiting to bloom! Wish you much luck in life and hope that we can both reach that milestone of personal ‘success’….

  • Stephanie

    This was a great article…and you are awesome! I have more respect for you than I do for most of the “successful” people I know. You have always said writing makes you happy, and you are such a passionate writer. You’ve done everything to make that happen, and that’s success. It’s never an easy thing to take such a big risk like this and write your heart out onto the paper. Taking that risk is success.

    Keep doing what you’re doing!

  • LizC

    Hey Amanda!

    Thanks for sharing your feelings with us. As you can tell, a lot of us feel the same way, like it’s a hopeless situation that can’t be changed.

    But that’s not the truth. You CAN change your situation, and I think taking a closer look at it should help that process.

    I don’t want to launch into a guilt fest about how you’re actually quite privileged to live in a great city, have supportive parents, a terrific blog, be able to work in your dream field, and have lasted to 34 in good health. Because you already know that. I come from a culture that uses guilt a lot, so I don’t want to impose that on you.

    But let’s think about that a little bit. In a city you’re constantly surrounded by people from all different backgrounds, and some of them might have some really serious struggles in their lives. An abusive relationship. Kids that are acting out. Divorce. Depression. Drug addictions. Poverty. Homelessness. Cancer. These are real struggles happening to real people.

    But you’ve got some stuff going on too. You feel hopeless in your current situation and helpless to change it. Fair enough.

    I think making a couple of strategic moves could really change things around (and tell your friends and family you’re going to do this, so they’ll know where you’re coming from):

    Let’s face it: you’re going to feel more empowered to make your own decisions when you stop allowing your parents to pay part of your rent. Pick up a second job or move to a cheaper location. Whether or not you know it, that dependence may be leading you to think you’re not capable of adult life. But you are. You’re a freelance writer and, as you said, you get to live in a city you’ve always wanted to live in (based on the population you gave, I’d guess it’s probably New York). That’s a wonderful success!

    Decide what you want and how you’re going to get it. A book deal? Well, you need to have a book first. Talk to your friends, find out how they got their deals and listen to their advice. If they did it, so can you.

    Write down your ideas, even if you think they’re no good. Give yourself time and space, and soon enough your natural creativity will begin to flow. And then ebb. And then flow. Etc. Like life itself, it’s a process.

    Let’s also take a minute to acknowledge the effect Hollywood and advertising have had on your self-esteem and outlook. Not everyone is going to be a famous actress. That’s okay. It’s totally normal to feel a little bummed about that :)

    Disregard the millions of dollars that were spent carefully cultivating a dependence on certain products to convince you that you’re finally good enough. Getting make up isn’t going to make you good enough. Buying clothes aren’t going to make you good enough. Eating out isn’t either, and neither will being a size 2. You know why? Because you already are good enough. You don’t need to prove that to anyone, and certainly not to a faceless corporation that’s trying to make money off of you.

    No one is perfect. But you can be content.

    I was having some very parallel thoughts today, so I’m glad to have come upon your blog, because you bring up some really good points. Many other people are going through the exact same thing you are, and it’s especially hard in the middle of a recession. But here’s the deal: your life is not going to change until you change it. And you have the power to do that. It’s not gonna be overnight. It’s not going to be easy. But it will be worth it. And you can do it.

    Keep us updated, we’ll be cheering for you.