Thoughts on Success from Someone Who Goes to Therapy to Talk About It

Written by Chelsea Francis

On Tuesday morning of this week I was sitting in the same spot on the same couch that I always sit on every other Tuesday. I am sitting across from my therapist.  We’re talking about some of the more recent things I’ve been having navigating my workload this year. Normally I’ve got too much work on my plate and I’m just barely hitting my goals. Sometimes I’m missing them, but usually scooting in just in the knick of time. I’m paying myself on time, making all my client deadlines, and making things work. Generally I’m doing alright and it’s been that way for a while. For that I am really grateful.

But this year is different. I’ve set a lot of intentions and done a lot of work to ensure that it will be.

And it actually looks like those intentions and those efforts are working. It’s going to be a good year. Some of my goals for the year I’ve lined up completely already, others I’m already half-way to. I think 2019 is going to be a great year for me personally, professionally and for Pass/Fail too.

When I look at it all planned out I see all the emails, the money that I have contracted, and everything else. I have a hard time believing it’s actually going to work out. I’m nervous. I feel like I’m perpetually nervous. And achieving my goals doesn’t help. Actually seeing that I’ve made progress on financial goals feels like I’m wearing a wool turtleneck sweater that’s getting tighter and tighter.

It’s weird for me to talk about this here and now and that irony is not lost on me: The fact that I run a publication about failure and success and I can talk about failing all day with ease. When it comes to talking about success… well… that’s a different story.

In my comfy spot on the therapy couch, as I am explaining all of this, my therapist stops me

She asks me to tell her about my success.

I just look at her, nervously.

I laugh.


I say something like ‘Yeah, this doesn’t bother me at all. I can do this.’ when clearly I’m shaken… It absolutely bothers.

Then very nervously I talk for about 5 minutes about something that barely resembles success.

And she stops me.

And she asks me to talk about specifics.

And I do. And somewhere around feeling terribly vulnerable at minute 7 of this, I start to feel it.

I actually believe what I’m saying.

I’ve actually put in the work, and I am really really immensely proud of what I’ve been doing and where I’ve been taking my businesses.

I’m proud of the fact that I can dream something and make it happen.

And I’m proud of myself.

We look at each other. And as I’m talking about my relationship with success and failure, I laugh. I told her that I was writing a piece for this very online mag about success for Friday and that this was actually really helpful, albeit comical. And then we both laugh. A lot. Like we’re both on the inside of a joke that the universe has laid out for us. Because it hits us at the same time: we had just published her piece about navigating failure on the site. My therapist is the therapist from Monday’s post.

I’m slowly starting to see myself as the person that my mother sees, that my husband sees, that my therapist sees. As someone who isn’t in my narrative every single day. It’s hard though. I know behind every incredible photo shoot, there’s just me scrambling to make things work amidst all of the things going on behind the scenes. I know, intimately, all the times that I’ve failed. But what I’m realizing more and more is that success isn’t the absence of failure, it’s something that stands all on it’s own. It’s all the times you show up anyway, trust that the universe has your back and you focus on making something you’re proud of.


Chelsea Francis is a photographer, editor, connector, and all around people person out of Austin, TX. She's most passionate about helping others see the beauty in their own lives, a good cup of coffee, and a great slice of pizza. When she's not answering emails, she's editing pieces for Pass/Fail, hosting networking events, and shooting and editing photographs for incredible companies both in Austin and elsewhere.

Chelsea Francis