I have a small notebook where I write down inspirational quotes I stumble upon. It’s pretty dorky, I know, but on some rainy days I just want to read a sentence or two to boost my self-esteem a little. Something to inspire me to keep on working when I’m tempted to give up, even if it’s in the form of a generic, overused phrase that people print on posters of sunsets and sell on Etsy for 40 bucks.
One of the quotes on the first page is “work hard in silence, let success make the noise”, and I think that sentence has always resonated very strongly with me, because for a long time, that was how I lived my life. I am very result-oriented, so I liked surprising people with, I suppose, what you could call my “successes”. I don’t like having to ask others for help, and I don’t like others seeing me struggling, or having difficulties with anything. Rather than showing that my results were the payoff of a lot of hard work, I wanted to make people think I just had some sort of natural talent for whatever the task at hand may be (although that was in fact far from the truth).
However, a while ago I began thinking, and I came to the realization that “work hard in silence, let success make the noise” is actually really bad life advice. Sometimes, we need help, and if you’re bad at asking for it when you need it, like I am, then this kind of “inspiration” really does more bad than good. If we don’t open up to people every now and then, chances are that the problem just keeps growing in side of us like a weed, with a risk of eventually consuming us. At its core, the problem with “work hard in silence, let success make the noise” lies in that the sound of silence does not sound like: “I’m stressed, overworked and can’t handle the situation.” Because sometimes that’s the harsh reality of very hard work – it’s tough. But we shouldn’t have to struggle in silence.
These days I have am also learning to start viewing life as more of a journey than as just a compilation of those short moments of success and positivity. I don’t think it’s healthy to only base your self-worth on how successful you seem to others. A person is a sum of all their qualities and experiences, whether they are positive or negative, whether it’s working hard or reaping the benefits of that work.
Letting others know that you are struggling with something, or that you are just putting effort into something, is not weakness, it’s human. Also, if you pretend like you are just effortlessly achieving all your goals, no matter how hard they are, and like you are never struggling, and just show people what the result looks like once the task is completed, it can have a negative effect on others. Others might feel bad about themselves; they might feel ashamed of having to put in a lot of work when you made it seem so easy, when in reality, you struggled just as much, but didn’t show it publicly.
I decided to cross over that quote from my book, because I decided that I didn’t want to be someone who shuts herself in and works until her brains bleed. I don’t want to keep putting on a fake smile and pretend like success comes to me without much effort. Struggling is human, failure makes us grow, and asking for help is not weakness. Everyone should embrace the journey, no matter what the outcome may be, because that is what truly shapes us and makes us who we are, not success, no matter how loud it may be.