Why It’s Okay to Not be a Girl Boss

why its okay to not be a girl boss

Girl boss. It’s the current “buzz word” that’s absolutely everywhere at the moment. Killing it with your blogging game? Girl boss. Setting up your own business? Girl boss. Getting promoted up the career ladder? Girl boss. Went to the gym three days in a row? Girl boss.

Whilst I could, in many ways, be described as a girl boss (definitely not because of the gym thing, might I add), I don’t particularly think the term – with its current connotations – has much relevance to my life. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s amazing that so many women are carving out incredible careers and lives for themselves and working hard to do what they love, but there comes a certain point when you just think: is it okay to not be a girl boss?

why its okay to not be a girl boss

The glorification of being busy

When I think of the term girl boss, one of the things that instantly springs to mind is the need to be constantly busy, constantly “hustling”. It has almost become a necessity to say that you’re extremely busy, to prove that you’re always working harder than you’ve ever worked before. Yes, it’s healthy to push yourself and try to do the best that you can do – but when did working 14 hour days become something aspirational?

Being busy isn’t something to strive for; working hard and spending your time wisely is.

When you work for yourself, sometimes long days are unavoidable and if you’re going through a quiet spell you do have to “hustle” (ughhhhh, how I hate that word) to make sure you have enough business to see you through. But, for me anyway, the whole reason I became self employed was so I had the freedom to choose my own hours, to have a flexible working day and to be able to have time to nurture my own interests outside of work. I don’t want to be working on client jobs at 11pm every night. I want to be in my pyjamas, watching Netflix and thinking about what I’m going to do at the weekend.

Trust me, non-busy life is great. I can get up at 10am if I want to. I can take an afternoon off to run errands if I want to. I can have my whole weekend to myself, not answering a single email. That doesn’t mean I don’t work hard, but it does mean that I’m not busy all the time – I prefer to take things at a slower pace and have time to enjoy it all.

why its okay to not be a girl boss

Aspirations for the future

If the current girl boss standards are to be believed, you can only be a girl boss if you have huge aspirations and want to take over the world one day. It’s never enough to enjoy what you’re doing now. You have to have a 5 year plan, a creative coach to tell you to go get your dream clients, an end goal. If you’re the sort of person who works well with a clearly defined plan, then go for it! Who am I to stop you?

But what about those of us who don’t have the next few years mapped out to the letter? Those of us who don’t have the desire to be running a multimillion pound company by the time we’re 30? Just because I take things as they come, it doesn’t make my work any less valid. I often feel like a bit of a fraud – it’s just little old me, teaching myself as I go along, trying to figure out what I want to do with my life. With the constant reminders of girl boss this and girl boss that, it’s easy to forget that doing your own thing is totally okay. Maybe in the future I’ll change my mind, but for the moment I’m quite happy working freelance by myself and not working towards owning a company or hiring other staff – and that. is. totally. okay.

why its okay to not be a girl boss

How to measure success

I’m so grateful that I’m able to run my own business, taking inspiration from other women but doing things in my own way and being a girl boss on my own terms.

According to Pinterest and blogs and books and Instagram, it often seems that the end goal of being a girl boss is to have your own empire, akin to that of Sophia Amoruso, arguably the creator of this whole movement. If that’s something you want and can achieve (turns out it didn’t even work that well for Amoruso who filed for bankruptcy on behalf of Nasty Gal recently…) then that’s great. But there are so many other ways to measure success – they might not be quite as obvious to the outside spectator and they might not get you quite as many likes on Instagram, but they’re just as worthy.

Without sounding too preachy, I think happiness is far more important than money as a measure of success. Obviously, I need to earn enough to be able to house and feed and clothe myself, but after that my happiness and general wellbeing definitely comes ahead of earning extra cash. It would be nice to be a millionaire, but it’s also nice to wake up every morning and feel excited about the work that’s ahead of you. It’s nice to be able to spend time with friends and family instead of being stuck at your desk all the time. It’s nice to be able to fit your work around your life, rather than the other way around.

What are your opinions on being a girl boss?


Freelance social media and digital marketing consultant with a penchant for writing blog posts, drinking sickly sweet cocktails and exploring the cobbled streets of Edinburgh.


  • Chloe says:

    Oh goodness, this one hundred times over. Thanks for voicing this. I sometimes struggle when people ask what it is I do for a living because my job is not exciting or mile-a-minute and I’m not spending every other spare minute striving to do something else. What I do have is a sort of lifestyle job that facilitates many things traditional employment never could and that’s ok too. Whilst this set up isn’t always perfect I’m now at a point where I can balance most of the elements of my life and I’d rather that than any ‘busy’ badge of honour. Work smartner, not harder.

    • Gillian says:

      I completely agree – it’s so silly that work has become the defining factor of modern life. The whole point of a job is to allow you to live your life in a way that’s best for you (whether that’s working 9-5 to be able to earn X amount to buy X thing, or having a less traditional job so you have time to balance the rest of your interests and needs). There’s no point working all hours of the day if you then don’t even have time or energy to reap the benefits.

  • Sarah says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I feel like there is a lot of pressure to be a girl boss these days. There are so many successful women that are totally organised and just winning at life. Where for a normal regular person like me, I feel like i’m not living up to those expectations. I also think I place those expectations on myself. This can make me feel a bit down at times as I feel like everyone else is doing well. I feel like this at times, despite being completely happy – currently, I am a stay at home mum. Which means my days consist of looking after my beautiful girl, cleaning the house and getting organised to move. There are days when the only thing I do is spend time with my daughter, which can make me feel like a bit of a failure. But then I try to remember that she is my priority and I will never get these moments with her again. House work and everything else will always be there, but her being 9 months old won’t be. But I’m happy and that is the main thing. I would much rather be happy than have an empire and be unhappy. I’m going back to uni in March, which means I am going to have to be a lot more productive and organised. I am aiming to have a good work-life balance. This way I can make sure I still get to spend adequate time with her, but also have enough time to study and do my assignments. So organisation wise i will get my but into gear. I know it won’t be an overnight change, but I’m motivated because time with Lily is important. Anyway, I’m going to stop there before I tell you my whole life story. Basically, I 100% agree with you – I think there is so much pressure to be winning at life and it can be quite disheartening when you aren’t living up to those standards. What a great topic to discuss.

    Sarah’s Abode -xx

    • Gillian says:

      You’ve got exactly the right idea, I think! It can be so hard to tell yourself you’re doing the right thing when everyone else seems to be doing “better” than you, but in reality they’re probably struggling with certain aspects of their job/life too. Spending time with your daughter is such an amazing thing to be able to do, and I think that’s much more important than worrying about being a girl boss! Hopefully uni will give you the right balance and you’ll be able to figure things out as you go along – good luck!

  • Kate says:

    Omg yes! This post is amazing, I love it! I totally agree with all of it, the last paragraph especially. Happiness is far more important and definitely agree that work should fit around your life 🙂 thanks for sharing this 🙂


    • Gillian says:

      Thanks Kate, glad you liked the post! I definitely think being happy is more important than earning lots of money – if you’re stressed out and busy at work all the time, you won’t even have time to spend and enjoy your earnings, so it seems a bit pointless to me!

  • I needed to read this so much. I left the safety of a reasonably well-paid but unsatisfying job to be a self employed illustrator, and it is hard. It’s really, really hard. I have a crisis of confidence every day over my decision and it’s not helped by our instagram-ready culture of super shiny success. I can’t swing a cat for somebody having it all or living the dream. Where’s all the struggle at, it can’t just be me!

    • Gillian says:

      I totally get you Carla! I’ve been freelancing for almost a year, and it’s only in the last couple of months that I’ve really felt comfortable and confident about what I’m doing (and even then, I definitely do have my doubts and have days when I question why all my friends and everyone on Instagram seems to be doing so much better than me). But I think we all have the tendency to only share the good parts of life/business on social media – so it’s important to talk about this kind of thing so we know we’re not alone!

  • Brittany says:

    I couldn’t agree more. There is this weird sort of ‘trend’ I notice with these kind of ‘self-help/feministy’ slanted books that are popping up which is that 1) if you are a woman and doing it on your own, then you rock! But also 2) if you want to stop because it’s too much, well, are you still a girl boss? If your dreams are of just adding one more client and NOT creating an empire, well, are you still girl boss-ing the right way?
    With girl bosses as with feminism in general, I thought the whole point was that we got to CHOOSE the things we wanted in our lives. I run two websites. I don’t want to run anymore. I like what I am doing. I also like finishing my work in time to make my boyfriend dinner at night. Ah, the joy of choice!

  • Kayleigh says:

    Thank you so much for this piece! It’s exactly what I needed to hear right now. I sometimes feel that if you’re not building an empire then you’re not doing anything worthwhile with your life and it’s kinda depressing. Thanks for reassuring me that being happy with where I am now is a-okay!


  • Arinola says:

    This is absolutely refreshing , was beginning to think I was the only one not into this whole girl boss movement, I personally think a lot of people just jump on the next buzz word and key into that because it’s the thing to do. I hope to find more conversations like this out there. Great stuff!!!

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