PETYA KIRILOVA-GRADY was born in Bulgaria in Eastern Europe, but she’s embraced her inner southern girl as a resident of Memphis. I first discovered Petya’s blog The Migrant Bookclub while searching for book reviews, but became fascinated by Petya’s often hilarious observations of the South. I’ve always believed that no author or writer can tell a person’s story better than they can, so I’m honored that the brilliant Petya is sharing her inspiring story and secrets to success with you.
I was raised by a strong ambitious woman in a family of strong, ambitious women, in a country of very strong, very ambitious women. I grew up and became one too. A strong woman can do it all because she is good at many things and she has no time to even consider the possibility of failure. She just goes for it. The downside of all that drive and ambition, however, is that sometimes it can misdirect you. You go after jobs, careers, projects that you feel you should win but should not have entered in the first place. You get competitive with people that are not even in the same race. Other people’s success often bothers you not because you don’t want them to be happy but because their success wasn’t yours. Then you feel guilty for feeling jealous. Strong, ambitious women are empowered by always hearing that they can do anything they want, but their trying to do EVERYTHING can make them suffer.
Not too long ago, I had a breakthrough. I realized that the reason why I kept feeling dissatisfied with so much of what I did even when on the surface I seemed to be succeeding was that I didn’t know whether it mattered to me. I would go into a client meeting and leave it happy and energized when it had gone well only to crash in thirty minutes. Whatever. I would read a good book and feel deeply moved by it, so much so that I would want to write about it on my website. I would pour my heart into a review, publish it, share it and deflate soon after. Why did I even bother? I had always been so focused on success, that I never really defined what success truly meant to me.
I am so profoundly proud of myself for figuring this out on my own. As a result I have been able to re-focus my energy on mining my passions. I have shifted my sight inward, started paying closer attention to what truly moves me, to what holds my interest, to what makes me lose track of time. It’s on those items that I let myself be ambitious. Everything else, I try and let go.
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