Thoughts on More Than Enough and Learning to Redefine Success

I’m struggling to review More Than Enough by Elaine Welteroth, 1) because it’s so good, and 2) because it brought up a lot of complicated emotions for me. So instead of a straightforward review, I’m writing about what this incredible book means to me and how it’s caused me to reflect on my own dreams and career path. For those not in the know, Elaine Welteroth was the editor-of-chief of Teen Vogue, making her the youngest ever and second Black EIC at Conde Nast. More Than Enough is the story of how she got there and what it was really like to achieve so much so quickly.

I started buying Teen Vogue when I was around 14 or 15 years old, when it was strictly about fashion and beauty. I’d flip through the pages of avant-garde clothes and try to relate to what I was seeing, but I never could. I thought reading Teen Vogue made me mature, even though I gravitated more towards CosmoGirl, TeenPeople, and BOP (RIP to all). I had stacks of magazines all over my room growing up and dreamed of one day working for one.

When I got to college and started majoring in journalism, I was reading Cosmopolitan, Glamour, ELLE, and Vogue. I worked for the college newspaper and felt self-conscious about my dream of working at a women’s magazine. I thought I wouldn’t be taken seriously by my professors or peers if I pursued or even talked about this dream. So instead I got newspaper internships that were dreadfully boring and kept me close to my small town. I never even applied to anything in NYC, where I so desperately wanted to live and work.

Fast forward to post-graduation and I was living and working in Maine, at a small weekly newspaper. It was an ok job, but it paid next to nothing and I was often bored by what I was writing about. I became so depressed and felt that I was a failure for not having a big glossy job. And at 22, I already thought it was too late for me to get on that track. I tried though. I applied to dozens of jobs at Hearst and Condé Nast and stalked alumni from my college on LinkedIn who worked at the big glossies. I got leads at Glamour and Brides, but nothing ever worked of them. I constantly called and emailed Hearst HR reps and even got the editor of Cosmo to chat on the phone with me. But again, nothing ever came of it.

After a few years of feeling very stuck at my newspaper job, I finally started freelancing on the side. I did a ton of research and followed every editor I could on Twitter. Finally, somehow, I got a pitch accepted by Teen Vogue. I was in tears at my work desk and my fellow reporters had no idea why I so emotional or excited. I ended up writing six articles for Teen Vogue and went on to write for SELF, Bustle, and The Washington Post too. I was (and am) really proud of this, but I was still bothered by not getting the job I dreamed of. I remember when Elaine Welteroth was promoted to editor of Teen Vogue and remember how devastated I was that she had accomplished so much at age 29. I thought I would never catch up.

After the newspaper job, I started working at a small magazine in Maine, which I was ecstatic about at first. Unfortunately a sexual harassment scandal made the work environment toxic and unbearable and lots of gross and unethical magazine practices came to light rather quickly. I lasted about eight months. While there, though, I did become a finalist for an editor job at Elite Daily and had a fancy NYC interview.

Fast forward two years and I’ve worked in nonprofit communications and am currently unemployed. I still live in Maine and will probably never have a big glossy magazine job. At this point in my life I’m ok with that. I don’t think I would have made it in New York in my early twenties and based on Elaine Welteroth’s descriptions of working for Condé Nast, I don’t think I would have been cut out for that sort of workaholic lifestyle. It’s just not who I am.

This book made me really upset for the first few chapters. I beat myself up for not trying harder when I was in my early twenties. I put the book down for a few weeks and wondered if I’d ever finish it. I’m so glad I did, though, because this was the book I needed.

I am so grateful for Elaine’s honesty and vulnerability in this book. Pulling back the curtain on her career was so illuminating for me and I’m so grateful for her insight. Not many people will admit to, let alone go into detail about how things aren’t always as perfect as they seem on social media. This book was a huge reality check for me.

This book also has shown me that there’s more to a person than their job or title. I’ve been working on understanding that for years, but my perfectionism and self-confidence issues never let me truly get it. More Than Enough shows the importance of a well-rounded life and about the absolute necessity of taking care of and prioritizing yourself.

This book and it’s message will stay with me for a long time and will hopefully guide me as I figure out my next step. Elaine has made me believe that I can do the things I want to do in life and that I can do them my way, without sacrificing who I am or what makes me happy.


 

You can buy Where the Crawdads Sing at your local bookstore or online at Bookshop.org!

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