The Modern Accomplished Woman is…Comfortable in Her Own Skin

This post is the second in a series dedicated to updating Jane Austen’s “accomplished woman” to create a definition more fitting for the modern world.  You can read the first post here.

Competition and comparison are at the core of the original accomplished woman, as defined in Pride and Prejudice.  As Caroline Bingley says, “no one can be really esteemed accomplished who does not greatly surpass what is usually met with.”  In fact, Caroline Bingley’s handy guide to spotting an accomplished woman is one sentence long:  Is she better than everybody else?

And by “better” she meant “classier.”  More well-bred, more taste, more money. I think the dictionary definition of accomplished is pretty appropriate here.  Check out #3 below:  “having all the social graces, manners, and other attainments of polite society.”

To Caroline Bingley, being accomplished was about impressing other people:  she valued appearances and looking better than everybody else.  But the dictionary definitions above don’t accommodate my ideas about what a modern-day accomplished woman looks like.  

Because first of all, today’s accomplished woman is comfortable in her own skin.

I loved Lucky’s comment on the first post in the series:  “Maybe the accomplished woman in 2011 is one who is happy in her own skin and making the world conform to her own vision of accomplishment no matter if that means climbing mountains, climbing the corporate ladder or climbing on the jungle gym with her kids.”

Yes!  I think being an accomplished woman today has to do with shaping a meaningful life, not impressing the neighbors, and it’s very difficult to do this successfully without first knowing yourself and being comfortable with who you are.  When you’re comfortable in your own skin, you don’t feel compelled to play the competition game and you don’t need to try and impress other people.

Being comfortable with who you are has a vast impact on so many aspects of life.  Knowing ourselves–and accepting ourselves for who we are–affects our relationships and our careers, the way we dress and the way we eat, the books we read and the movies we see, our priorities and our dreams.

And when you’re comfortable in your own skin, you never have to waste time trying to be someone you’re not.  You can just be you.  (You’ll be happier being you, anyway.)

(And to those of you who feel like you don’t know yourself, or that you don’t know who you are, don’t panic:  a wise woman once told me that self-acceptance is the journey of the 20s.  You’ll get there if you pay attention.)

So there we have it:  the first key to being a modern-day accomplished woman is to be comfortable in your own skin.

What about you?  Are you comfortable in your own skin?

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  1. DFrazzled says:

    I think this is something I’m still learning–and I’ve discovered that it’s okay to be learning, discovering, trying new things. I am nearly 30 and in a way I feel like I’m back in jr. high, trying new looks, new makeup, new home decor–but this time it’s way less about how to fit in or about what other people like, and much more about what I like and what works best for my family and me. It’s like a great re-discovery of myself, and it’s wonderful.

  2. Kathleen says:

    I disagree — I don’t see being accomplished as being synonymous with being comfortable. It’s about skills. An accomplished woman has the skills to do ALL of these things (“climbing mountains, climbing the corporate ladder, climbing the jungle gym with her kids”) and more. But she also has the grace and humility not to gloat or get a big head about her skills. I think that being accomplished is about having skills out the wazoo but still being a nice, down-to-earth person that others want to be around. 🙂

    Thanks for the thought-provoking post.

    • Lucky @ Making My Own Luck says:

      I don’t disagree with you that skills is also a part of it. What I meant was more along the line of defining for your self what “accomplished” meant and being comfortable with it. I think that today a woman can be accomplished without knowing how to play an instrument, net a purse, paint watercolor, etc etc or whatever Caroline Bingley said.

  3. I think another way to say “comfortable in your own skin” is to simply say “content.” Content with who you are. Content with how you look (but at the same time keeping yourself healthy and fit). Content with who you’re married to. Content with your home, your children, your job.

    And I wouldn’t say that contentment is an accomplishment. It’s a gift from God, but it’s also something that is easy to lose. Contentment, I believe, is a by-product of thankfulness. When we’re thankful with the way God made us and the blessings he’s given us, we’re content with what we have.

    I think contentment is one trait of a godly, accomplished woman, but being comfortable with yourself is not a key to BECOMING accomplished. It’s something that happens as a RESULT of being the kind of women (and men) God created us to be.

    I certainly do agree with you that being comfortable with yourself makes you more happy. When you’re dissatisfied with your own self, it’s rather hard to be happy and cheerful!

  4. Lucky @ Making My Own Luck says:

    Thanks for the shout out Anne!

    I think we’re all so lucky to live in an age where technology opens so many doors and not as many people have to choose between working full time and staying at home full time. Telecommuting and remote access has revolutionized the way I work and mother and keep house and work on becoming an accomplished woman in my spare time. The lines between work and home are being blurred and I think it’s awesome.

  5. I do like to ‘accomplish’ meaningful things, but I am trying to learn to pay attention to pursuing those accomplishments which will be meaningful to God and to me, without reaching for standards that others might try to impose on me.
    In some ways, that sets me free from certain pressures, but in other ways God’s standards may be higher than what I can attain with ease. I don’t want to show off. Just keep my eyes on what’s important.

  6. Amy says:

    I think as I have headed into my 30s, I’ve definitely become way more comfortable in my own skin. The fact that I lead a life that doesn’t exactly follow the herd doesn’t put me on the defensive the way it would have in my insecure early 20s. And that’s a blessing indeed.

  7. Christine says:

    Like others have said, the thirties have really opened up that “comfortable in my own skin” feeling. I am (getting to) the point where it is much more important what I think than what others think. For me, that is a big part of becoming an accomplished woman. I do have to say, that I am still striving to become accomplished. I think it will be a lifelong journey for me.

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