Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Anna Quindlen: On Being Enough

After all those years as a woman hearing 'not thin enough, not pretty enough, not smart enough, not this enough, not that enough,' almost overnight I woke up one morning and thought, 'I'm enough.'   --  Anna Quindlen
Anna Quindlen is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and bestselling novelist with a book list that includes seven novels including six bestsellers and eight nonfiction books. She began her career as a copy girl for The New York Times at age 18.  After graduation from Barnard she was hired as a reporter for The New York Post, then returned to The New York Times as a columnist from 1981 to 1994. 

She was only the third woman in the paper’s history to write a regular column for the Op-Ed page and won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for her work in 1992.  She left her newspaper career behind to concentrate on becoming a novelist in 1995.

Like her columns, her books (both nonfiction and fiction) take a sophisticated, insightful and thought provoking look at life.  Add it all together … her background, her high profile newspaper career and prestigious, award-winning body of work ... and you would think Anna would be one of the most self-assured, competent and confident women you would ever meet.
 If success is not on your own terms -- if it looks good to the world but does not feel good in your own heart -- it is no success at all.  -- Anna Quindlen
So it comes as quite a surprise to learn that Anna Quindlen, like the vast majority of us, felt she was “not enough.”  She says it wasn’t until she turned 50 (eight years after winning the Pulitzer Prize) that she woke up secure in the knowledge that she was “enough.”   During an interview Anna said she became a “girl imitation,” acting “less than” in order to fit the expected image of a woman.  
“[I became] nicer, sweeter, less outspoken [and] less combative.  All the qualities that you need to be a good opinion columnist tend to be qualities that aren’t valued in women.  And I think that was a bit of a challenge for me when I became an op-ed columnist [for The New York Times] and has been a challenge for many of us who do that as a living.  -- Anna Quindlen 
Since reading her first book, I considered Anna Quindlen an inspiring role model, but I didn’t think we had much in common because our lives were so different.  She is a New Yorker who graduated from Barnard.  She began her career at age 18 with one of the most prestigious newspapers in the country ... and then won a Pulitzer Prize for her writing, for heaven's sake!  And I, well ... I have none of those accomplishments on my resume.
 I read and walked for miles at night along the beach, writing bad blank verse and searching endlessly for someone wonderful who would step out of the darkness and change my life. It never crossed my mind that that person could be me.  -- Anna Quindlen
But in sharing these truths about herself, her value to me increased even more because I realize that although we may have walked different paths, we do have much in common.   We share the journey of being a woman and the challenge of finding the strength to become yourself and to share your truths as a writer with candor and integrity.  I appreciate the grace and wisdom with which she continues to illuminate the path for the rest of us.  
The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.  -- Anna Quindlen
Find Anna Quindlen’s latest novel on Amazon:
Brilliantly written, powerfully observed, Still Life with Bread Crumbs is a deeply moving and often very funny story of unexpected love, and a stunningly crafted journey into the life of a woman, her heart, her mind, her days, as she discovers that life is a story with many levels, a story that is longer and more exciting than she ever imagined. -- Review.  

Visit her website at


Elizabeth S. Brinton said...

This is fantastic! I am sending it to my daughter! Thank you so much for this wonderful post.

Jennifer Lamont Leo said...

I've always enjoyed Anna Quindlen's writings.