Has anyone ever said ‘oh you’re so lucky’ or ‘you were so lucky to get that job’?
Do you feel lucky? Or do you feel more like ‘it’s about feckin time, I’ve applied for a million jobs, got a degree, worked for free and worked in many non career/part time jobs’ ?
I want to talk about luck. And people’s perception of luck. I feel like it all comes down to that iceberg meme, you know the one right? Have a wee google, if not.
Your friends and family see your pinacle of success and seem to disregard the months/years of hard slog it took you to get there. Or maybe you don’t share the ‘failures’ and struggles. Both of these are completely fair and normal behaviours. However, my point is that when people say your latest achievement is ‘luck’, it’s completely incorrect. It’s also kinda degrading, belittling and might make you feel a bit sad. The thing is, people definitely don’t mean it to be that way, so why do they say it?
I think it works with other situations as well. A controversial one is weight and appearance. Many people have said to me over the years: ‘you’re so lucky you’re naturally slim’. But what they don’t know is I was in a very brutal gymnastics squad from the age of 4 to 10 and once you build so much muscle at a young age, it’s never that hard to build it again. Plus, muscle burns calories meaning as an adult I can get away with eating what I like (within reason, I still choose to be healthy for the most part) and I can work out a little each day and see big results.
Yes it’s great and yes I’m happy with my weight/shape but I put in the time as a kid (without knowing it then, obviously). I trained for around 16 to 20 hours a week and it was partly enjoyable but very much filled with large amounts of sit ups, press ups and other bodyweight exercises. We were stretched to the point of crying and spent our Saturday mornings jogging around a field.
I have dealt with jealousy in regards to this; it seems it’s easy to think that slim people have no other problems and are living some kinda perfect life. If these green monsters spent 5 years doing intense gymnastics training, they’d no doubt see some results too. You can’t have the prize without putting in the effort.
So this is where luck DOES enter the equation. It may sound hypocritical but hear me out. Hard work is not guaranteed to equal success. Yet success can’t happen without hard work. No one is fully responsible for their success and to understand this keeps you humble and compassionate (which is good, I’m told). So here is where it fits into my example.
I trained hard as a kid which meant I built muscle and have benefitted from this into adulthood. I sacrificed other extra curricular activities, social occasions and gained persistence in order to stick at it.
- I was lucky to be given the opportunity to go to gymnastics
- I was lucky that I had an interest in it and was a generally ‘climby’ child
- I didn’t make the part of me that had persistence to stick it out when it got tough so I was lucky to be given that DNA
- I didn’t make the part of me that’s competitive and wanted to keep improving and winning at competitions
So to relate this to your friend/family member who’s just got a new job or achieved one of their goals, ask yourself these questions:
- Did they study/get a degree in order to be skilled within their field?
- Have they had to take other jobs that aren’t necessarily what they want?
- Have they spent time building their online presence and networking within their field?
- Have they put in extra hours after work in order to meet deadlines or improve their skills?
- Have they done a placement or volunteer work in order to build their experience/portfolio?
If the answer to any of these is ‘yes’ then they have put in the hard work and very much deserve their new opportunity.
Where the LUCK comes in:
If your friend/family member has not had their break yet, please don’t disregard them for not doing enough or say anything along the lines of ‘you obviously don’t work hard enough’. The chances are they’re in between the ‘hard work’ stage and the ‘luck’ stage. And what a frustratingly in betweeny limbo place that is to be.
What they need now is some luck and that comes in the form of:
- A company that they’re suited to having a vacancy come up
- Meeting someone who has an opportunity for them
- Someone seeing their potential and offering them a job or promotion
- Many more options similar to these
You can do a lot of work to help these opportunities find you but you’re not FULLY in control of these things and that’s why you can’t fully be responsible for your success.
An additional thought:
There’s been a lot of talk on social media recently about ‘thin privilege’ and I feel this links to the issue of ‘luck’ as well. Some people ARE naturally thin without putting in any effort whatsoever but unless you know that for sure, maybe just shush about it. And even if they ARE, they are no doubt dealing with other insecurities and issues so to assume that they’re privileged SOLELY by judging their appearance is not something I’d advise. I get that there are all kinds of privileges and discussions are good but I think it’s important to keep the assumptions and accusations out of it. Good, polite discussion is the way forward, amiright?