Thriving or Surviving?

Yesterday I met up again with Tanya, who is a reader of this
blog.  I had the pleasure of
meeting with Tanya for the first time when I was in London this past year.  Yesterday, we had lunch at the Wolseley.  She goes there when she misses NYC.  The restaurant reminded me of

I had a delicious tuna nicoise salad. 

Tanya had a cappuccino after. 

I went with the tea.  Nice pot.

Tanya is a survivor who is learning how to thrive.  She found herself a few years ago working like crazy in Wall
Street and realized she might be good at it but she didn’t enjoy it.  Took a breather for a year and slowly
began to return to the business world in her own terms.  She has a line of yoga t-shirts and is
working on the growth of that business. 
The other thing she is doing is making a documentary, which she funded
through Kickstarter.  It is a documentary about 10 people who were sexually abused as children and not only
survived but are now thriving. 

The thriving part is what I keep thinking about.  As Tanya put it, someone could drop her
in the middle of the desert and she could figure out how to get back but that
isn’t thriving, that is surviving. 
Something I can totally relate to. 

I have always plowed through anything that came my way
without a thought about how I would get there.  When I was younger, I was sure that I could easily run a
multi-million dollar company and I would.  My
vision was I’d put on my heels, put on my suit, have my kids kissing me good-bye in the morning, perfectly dressed
and behaved, a husband that adored me and off I’d go.  No thought to the stress, how I’d juggle all the
responsibilities, how I’d raise
the kids and be around for them,  how I’d feel about being at work and not being
at home or how it would all fall into place.  It is a survival instinct.  Thriving is taking time out to smell the roses, make the
connections with the people around you, thinking about how decisions are
affecting your life.  I was always
looking ahead instead of enjoying the day to day. 

It has taken time and work but I am trying to thrive.  Many women go into that survival mode
while they are taking that short perhaps 10 year hiatus to be focused on their
kids and their family or focused on their work life.  A lot of
these women are now waking up and saying to themselves, how do I thrive in this
arena that I have created for myself.  I might be surviving but by not thriving I am not sure how happy I really am. How can I thrive and be
part of the working world again in my own terms.  This is the first generation that were told that they could
do it all and have found that they really want to but are having a tough time achieving that goal. 

We are surviving but
what we really need to do is thrive. 

Comments (Archived):

  1. Sunchowder

    Beautiful blog post, you have made me think this morning…

    1. Gotham Gal

      This topic always makes me take pause.

  2. rachel

    Love this. Thriving is such a good goal. Our pediatrician told us the goal for the first two weeks of a newborn is survival — felt so good for week 3 and on to feel like we were thriving…(most days)

  3. TanyaMonteiro

    I am reminded of the wise words Jeff Bezos’s grandfather shared with him “Jeff, one day you will understand that it’s harder to be kind than clever”. Is it also harder to Thrive than to survive?

    1. Gotham Gal

      Agreed. It is harder to thrive than survive.

  4. Germain

    You do raise an interesting question: why is that despite living conditions that by any standard are priviledged (if not downright opulent) beyond most people’s imaginations an entire class (if not an entire generation) can be unhappy? (the not thriving complaint is not uncommon). I cannot come up with any meaningful answer beyond the usual cliches but I wish I could. I guess that is the question Tanya is trying to answer?

    1. Gotham Gal

      You have hit the nail on the head. I know that I personally find myselfwondering that. I have an incredible life, very full and certainly beyondmy imagination and why do I find myself at time unhappy and unfulfilled. AmI thriving? I know I am surviving. I am trying to figure out how tothrive.Tanya is working with people who were sexually abused as children who arenow surviving as adults, and hopefully thriving. But her question can beapplied to anything. It certainly applies to many women that I know of.

  5. Erin Newkirk

    I’ve thought a lot about this, too. Thrive vs. survive captures it nicely, Joanne. Is it predictability? When just starting out in life, most of us have wild hopes and dreams…do these hopes and dreams drive us to thrive? The unknown, if nothing else, is thrilling. But when we start living life, the unknown becomes known, pieces fall into place. And while our reality can be quite lovely, do we some need the element of the unknown to thrive?

    1. Gotham Gal

      I like what you said. Perhaps when the unknown becomes known and reality sets into place, you can either just survive or embrace that reality and truly thrive. Its not so easy.

  6. Yule Heibel

    I can really relate to this… Started a l-o-o-o-n-g comment, but then realized it would be more appropriate to write a blog post on my own site. Haven’t written it yet, but yep, this survive-thrive conundrum is very topical at so many levels.

  7. Kelley Boyd @msksboyd

    Joanne, I am so glad to have found this post. It was Tanya following me on twitter, that got me to this particular post. Thanks Tanya. My story is a long one, but let’s just begin on 7/23/10. The day you posted this. I was at the Lean StartUp looking for the OnRamp. I have learned a lot since then, have spent some time on Fred’s blog and have even started my own blog. I am grateful for the support that community has given me.Your comments on this topic struck me with a particular clarity. About a year ago my son and I were talking and he said to me, “Mom, you are not a victim, you are a survivor”. And that kept me putting one foot in front of the other through some very difficult and confusing times.Thankfully, my voice is returning, my head is clearing and I am ready to move beyond surviving. There is some heavy lifting that goes with that, but I am prepared to do that in order to find that place that allows me to grow. I look forward to meeting in person to discuss this very thing…thriving in a place that matters.I pushed Fred for a meeting on his blog but really think that your insights are critical to where I am going. He said he would get with you to coordinate a meeting, so if you are up for it, I am hoping we can get something on the calendar sooner rather than later. Please feel free to DM me directly about this, or I will ping Fred as planned in a few weeks. Best…