It Doesn’t Matter Where You Start

My sister Fabianne, Greenhorn Bold copy editor extraordinaire, shared some writing with me that I wanted, in turn, to share with you.  You know, it really doesn’t matter where you start.  Here’s to a bold and brilliant 2013!

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I had never heard of Helen Gurley Brown until the date of her death: August 13, 2012.  I first saw her wiry frame featured in one of the main headlines on my favorite news source, and then heard a wonderful memorial of her on NPR.  While I hadn’t heard of Brown, I was certainly familiar with Cosmopolitan Magazine, or “Cosmo,” and I had a particular memory of an article I once read about the perks of bringing a spatula into the bedroom (?).  Anyway, I learned that day in August that Brown was the international editor for Cosmopolitan magazine for over thirty years.

I listened attentively as NPR played a clip of Brown reading from one of her books about succeeding in life and in business, and found myself smiling when she said this:

“A job is where the money, the success, and the clout come from.  It doesn’t matter where you start, what matters is starting and hanging in.  I did it…and you, my dear, can too.”

I find this inspirational, especially now, at this point in my life.  I am twenty-seven years old and just a semester into a master’s program in teaching Spanish.  Sometimes I worry that I embarked on this journey too late, that it took me too long to figure out a career path to pursue.  I also worry about employment after graduating; after all, teaching positions continue to dwindle as my home state of California attempts to cut back spending in any way possible.

But then I think about Helen Gurley Brown.  She worked as a secretary for years, gradually moving up company chains with modest promotions, until finally, at the age of forty, she published her first book, Sex and the Single Girl, which was an international best-seller.  Three years later, she became the editor of Cosmo.  There is no timeline for success.  We all peak when we are ready.

Also, there is a lot of emphasis these days on the struggling economy and the sad job market, but each generation has its own challenges to face when it comes to establishing our careers.  Think of Brown and her first book about sexual liberation and self-sufficient women.  It was published in 1962, before the sexual revolution had even begun.  Imagine the challenges she faced marketing those new-age ideas to publishers.  Still, she persisted and ultimately succeeded.

So through this remarkable woman I have learned that it doesn’t matter where (or when) you start.  The important thing is to just get started and to persevere.

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