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In Her Own Terms: How Different Women Define Triumph

Written by: Nira Macaspac
Feature produced by: Mara Gollena, Kitkat Pajaro, and Nira Macaspac

In our society, there's a strong focus on fame, titles, and the accumulation of material wealth as the primary indicators of success. Everywhere we look, from movies to social media, we see these symbols of achievement being celebrated. This common viewpoint suggests that to be successful, one must attain a certain level of popularity, amass significant wealth, or acquire expensive things. However, this view is not only limited but also fails to encompass the rich and varied understandings of success that women across the globe possess.

Historically, women have tirelessly fought for their place in society and the right to define success on their terms. From the suffragettes who battled for voting rights to the modern-day crusaders advocating for equal pay, women's journey toward personal triumph has been fraught with challenges. This struggle has been a critical part of shaping their unique perspectives on what it means to be successful.

For many women, success encompasses much more than material wealth or public recognition. It might mean overcoming societal barriers to becoming a leader in a male-dominated field, to balancing professional aspirations with family responsibilities or making significant contributions to their communities. These achievements are often hard-won, a result of breaking through centuries-old stereotypes.

Women's definitions of success are not just diverse but deeply personal and meaningful.  This broader, more inclusive understanding of success acknowledges that achievement is not one-dimensional. It's not just about what one has but also about who one becomes, the impact one makes, and the personal goals one fulfills. This multifaceted understanding adds depth to the concept of success, reminding us that it's a personal journey, not merely a destination set by societal norms.

It's crucial to acknowledge that we, women, have different views about success, and it's not all fame, titles, or money. Each woman's journey is unique, and so is her pace. Some may find their calling early in life, while others might take a winding path to discover what truly matters to them. It's important to honor these differences and recognize that success is not a one-size-fits-all concept.

I think that the journey towards success begins with being true to ourselves, defining it on individual terms rather than societal expectations or external validation. This personal definition can empower and drive us to pursue our goals with authenticity and purpose.

To better understand these diverse viewpoints, we asked eight remarkable women from different backgrounds to share their views on what success means to them. Each defining success through their distinct lens, reminding us that achievement is not a one-size-fits-all concept.

Balancing Time and Financial Freedom

"Success for me means having the time and resources to do the things that I love. Initially, I believed time alone was sufficient for starting my passion projects. But there was a phase when I had enough time but faced financial constraints, a common challenge for freelancers like me. I realized then that I not only needed time but also a means to fund my passions, and finding the right clients who value my work and time was my solution. Because believe it or not, it is much harder to make art while you scrape by and worry about the bills." 

- KJ Gonzales, 36, Freelance Social Media Manager/Illustrator

Becoming a Positive Force

"Success, in my view, goes beyond personal and financial achievements. Being successful means leveraging your skills and resources to make a positive impact, whether through your business or through other avenues like creating job opportunities or supporting local causes. This influence may extend to inspiring fellow women, fostering an entrepreneurial spirit, or actively contributing to the betterment of your community." 

- Melissa Blanca Moscoso, 40, Founder of Xavier & Xandrei

Nurturing Kind Children

"Success for me is seeing my children grow up as good persons, and seeing them reach their goals and dreams in life.  I want them to be someone who fears and knows God, have empathy and respect for everyone regardless of their status in life." 

-Riza Badilla, 44, Baker and Housewife

The Pursuit of Happiness

“To be in a state where you can actively pursue your happiness everyday is what success means to me." 

-Alyssa Mikhaella Tupas, 25, Junior Strategist at Edelman

Finding Joy and Purpose

"Success to me is about finding the balance of what gives you Joy and Fulfillment in Life. It allows you to continuously grow and expand by positively impacting others. It evolves in meaningful connection and relationship that gives you purpose and meaning both in your personal and professional life. " 

-Jaide De Mesa, 55, Life , Career Development and Performance Coach

Living a Life of Testimony

"Success for me is when I am already able to make a positive impact on another person's life without even trying to. Our pasts will really never define nor have the authority to cripple us towards the future that God prepared for us. And as a single working mom, I learned to keep my focus on the greater plan that God has for me and my son. And by living a content life, magnifying how awesome God is in my life and thus, giving a great testimony to others, made me realize how success really looks like." 

-Grace Estropegan, 36, Virtual Executive Assistant

The Gift of Daily Contentment

"Success for me is having the privilege to set goals to spice up my every waking day and to wake up again tomorrow regardless of having achieved that goal, and be able to try again. And success for me is living content in the knowledge that I was able to support and help follow-through with the dreams and aspirations of my children and see them happy with their life." -Dr. Wilma Ibañez Tupas, 51, Dentist and Proprietor of Signature Smiles

Building Connections and Valuing Time

"To find the balance of doing what I love while building connections and taking care of those I love is what success is to me.  We only live once, so doing something mediocre at the expense of time would be such a waste." -Erika Rodica, 33, Entrepreneur

In the pursuit of our individual definitions of success, it's also important not to lose sight of what ultimately matters: a peaceful mind, a healthy body, and a grateful heart. These are the pillars that sustain us through life's ups and downs. Our achievements, no matter how grand, are fleeting if they don't contribute to our inner well-being and peace.

As women, redefining success on our own terms is not just an act of personal empowerment but a step towards a more inclusive, empathetic, and more realistic understanding of what it means to be successful. By honoring our unique journeys, embracing our diverse perspectives, and prioritizing our well-being, we create a more holistic and fulfilling path to success—one that celebrates the richness of our experiences and the depth of our aspirations.

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