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The Overnight Success Myth

I'm sure most of you are familiar with the term "overnight success." For those who don't know it's a label placed on someone who seemed to come out of nowhere and is now a recognized success in their industry.

It's also bullshit.

Calling someone an overnight success is a slap in the face to the hardships they've endured along the way to get to the level they're at now. 


The overnight success story is a myth.

The reality is there's years of hard work behind the honing of their craft. All the blood, sweat, tears and personal struggle are all washed away when you say someone achieved something "overnight." It's almost as if the spin doctors don't want people to know the dirty details of the success story because they want them to seem untouchable. 

False idols appearing real. 

I've studied alot of success stories and it always seems the same. They have humble beginnings, or maybe even desolate circumstances surrounding their formative years, then they decide to pursue this goal and "poof" they suddenly reach the level of success they're at now.

Where's the gritty middle?

The quiet hours when no one is watching is where the magic takes place. But no one wants to talk about how much work and setbacks are really involved becauest hey want to be a bulletproof badass.

The struggle is where the true story lies, every good writer will tell you that. Hurdles and hardships make for relatable characters. The same is true of real life. If we hear that a superstar has gone through some of the same struggles we're going through now it endears that person to us. We think if they made it through depression, addiction, etc. to wind up where they are now then I can do the same thing. 

When WWE Superstar Seth Rollins was on the Ed Mylett show he spoke poignantly about the overnight success myth.

"The end point is not what's important, the journey is the important part. That struggle, having to overcome all the obstacles, is part of what it's like to be human."
"Success is a product of time. Every overnight succes story is years in the making."

Rollins is right. There's no time limit. I've made the mistake of looking at others success rates and thinking I should've been there by now. But everyone's path is different. As long as you're still breathing you have the opportunity to realize your dreams.

A really good example is actress Jessica Chastain. She's pretty well known now but there's a large chapter of her life that involved a struggle to get noticed. After winning the Golden Globe for her work in Zero Dark Thirty, Chastain herself mentions how it took years of consistently pursuing her dream of being an actress before she finally broke through. It wasn't overnight.

"I've wanted to be an actor since I was a little girl. And I've worked for a really long time. I've auditioned, and struggled, and fought, and been on the sidelines for years." Chastain says.

Some people wear their struggles on their sleeve like a badge of courage because that's what it is. JK Rowling is another good example. Everyone knows her story by now: on the edge of poverty with a small child trying to make it day-to-day until she got the idea to write the first Harry Potter book. And even after she wrote the book it took years to get published and even more time before she grew into this international sensation.

These days everyone is focused on the finish line not the roadwork and drinking the egg whites like Rocky. They don't want to do the work. It's more important to them to have a number goal next to their name on whichever social media platform they're using instead of creating something of quality. believe me when I tell you that if you chase the vanity metrics of a certain number of followers it will never be as fulfilling as putting out the one thing you're best at and having a genuine response from showcasing its creation. That's real! A social media following isn't as important as you think it is. Don't believe me? What happens if the Internet disappears? What are you left with when you've been chasing numbers this whole time?

Focus on your truth. Your story is genuine and only you can tell that tale. Success will rise from the pursuit of your passion.

This world moves pretty fast. We tend to forget everything we did in a decade or even a year to get to the point we are. But the tenacity to keep forging through hard times should be celebrated. Don't shy away from it because you had a difficult period in your life, embrace it.

Stay the course. Have a main goal that you want to accomplish but also set some incremental goals that you can reach along the way. This will help you on your path to "overnight success."

There's someone out there who needs to hear your story, scars and all. 




"Original Cyn" Cynthia Vespia writes fantasy novels with edge. This blog is dedicated to all things fantasy and my author journey.


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