by Paula on February 5, 2011

Wordle: UntitledWords, words, words, they’re just a combination of letters and spaces aren’t they? So why do some combinations of words have so many different connotations. This week I was faced with one of my least favourite string of words: “It’s alright for you….”

What does this actually mean?

To the person receiving it, it is saying:

– The fact that you worked hard to achieve something means nothing
– You are ‘lucky’
– Your success just happened to you and it’s different for others

To the person saying it, it is helping them feel:

– That the place they find themselves in ‘happened to them’ and they were a passive partner
– That they are excused from any responsibility for their own actions
– That they don’t need to feel any sense of disappointment if they are unhappy, because “it’s not their fault”

I am someone who’s a bit of a fighter. I work hard at my personal life and my working life and I constantly evaluate where I’m at and where I’m headed. I accept that things can’t always be perfect but if they fall too far below a mark I take action to put things right or improve things. As an adult I’ve always had the motto “Always regret what you did, rather than what you didn’t do”, and while I’m not striving to for fame or fortune, I do want to have a happy and fulfilled life.

I remember working hard in a  job I hated when I was younger, to save every penny so I could travel the world. I lived at home, I had a simple, cheap car, I didn’t have any latest gadgets, and after 3 years I had achieved my target and bought my ticket. Did people share my excitement at my hard work and achievement? No, “It’s alright for you….” they said, “You’ve got the money to do that, some of us haven’t”. Well these people had nice cars, nice homes and big TV’s so the money’s there, we just all choose to spend it on different things. I remember my Mum saying to me back then. The people who say this are just wishing they had that too….must admit I didn’t really understand. If they’d wanted to travel couldn’t they have saved for that too…?

And so to this week. It’s not been the easiest year work wise. To summarise, I:

– Had been unhappy in my job for a significant period of time
– Couldn’t see a future career path for me in that job and had lost the sense of feeling valued
– Put forward a well thought out and direct proposal at work to jointly lead a project I really believed in
– Registered with an agency and started being put forward for a number of suitable jobs
– Signed up to a Business Link “setting up your own business course” and started drafting out plans to best utilise my skills
– Took a training course to further enchance my marketing / system skills
– Set up my own part-time business – White Social Media
– Signed up my first clients and put my heart into doing a great job
– Decided that the fulfilment I get from this business is worth chasing, so made a difficult decision to leave the security of my 8 year employ and take a leap into the risky and unknown.

And so that’s what lead me to the point this week where a colleague with whom I had a dicussion with a year ago about how unhappy we both were, and a year down the line has personally chosen to do little to change the situation said to me, “It’s alright for you, you’re leaving and have something to go to, some of us aren’t that lucky”

This could go two ways. I give in to my intial feelings of hurt and anger at the total dismissal of the hard work and challenges they know I’ve gone through and SHOUT SHOUT SHOUT. Or I try to take the moral high ground, take a deep breath and feel a sense of sadness for those who rather than take initiative and fight for change themselves, find it easier to excuse themselves and their lack of progress by somehow saying ‘It’s not my fault’.

Phew – it’s hard to be grown up but hey, after the precarious and difficult climb, the view is nice from this higher ground 😉


steve Wilson February 5, 2011 at 6:07 pm

Agreed :o)

paula February 5, 2011 at 5:41 pm

Hi Steve. Thank you for your comment. As someone that I know also works really hard to make things happen for himself I know that you’re far more likely to be a receiver than a giver of this statement. Can I just clarify that I know that there’s an element of luck and good fortune that some benefit from and I’d never deny it’s existence. My feelings are more from it being used as an excuse for inactivity rather than taking the chance to evaluate what makes you say it and recognise that there’s also an element of accountability for where we find ourselves.
Can I also add that my perception of success is not about being better or richer or on a higher level to anyone else but about striving to be in that place that fits your values and makes you happy. For some of us that can be at a much lower level of “success” than others, which is why I believe that finding the level at which life works within your boundaries, should be something in reach of us all.

Steve Wilson February 5, 2011 at 2:25 pm

We’ve all heard this (and it’s a great Police song!) but aren’t we all guilty of it as well, to some degree, because at some point luck does play a part, even if the luck only happens because your hard work has put you in the position to receive it? The obvious example would be two equally skilled and enthusiastic actors, one of whom’s fame catapults from a chance audition and one of whom remains in obscurity? Can we really say there was no luck involved at all if they’re both equal in every other sense and the only difference was an arbitrary path that led to the ‘right’ audition on that day?

Of course, we can never take away success from anyone, because every successful person has, by definition, earned it somehow and we should look up to them to learn from their example. But I do get frustrated when people claim there’s no such thing as ‘luck’ and that success is ALL down to hard work? One of the most often repeated quotes on Twitter is – “I find the harder I work the luckier I get” – but there is still a hidden element (which some people call ‘luck’) that’s usually involved somewhere?

The simple fact is this; there’s not enough room at the top for everyone, and those at the top can only be at the top if there are lots of people underneath them that don’t quite make it! A few do make it, some try and never make it and some never try. This doesn’t excuse the “alright for you” attitude but I guess I’m just trying to explain why some people will always have that attitude; that’s what makes a society after all :o)

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