Everything We Learnt When We Met British Best-Selling Author & Podcaster Elizabeth Day

Elizabeth Day also knows a thing or two about success.

She may have written the book on the failure (seriously, it’s called How To Fail) but Elizabeth Day knows a thing or two about success.

On her wildly popular podcast, How To Fail with Elizabeth Day, she’s interviewed some of the world’s most successful women. From Phoebe Waller-Bridge to Bernadine Evaristo and Dolly Alderton, the list is as spectacular as Elizabeth’s own achievements.

“I am aware of the irony of having a wish to podcast about failure, and it becoming the most successful thing I’ve ever done,” Day told marie claire editor Georgie Abay at our International Women’s Day event in Sydney, where she was a guest speaker.

marie claire editor Georgie Abay interviewing Elizabeth Day

As if hosting one of the world’s favourite podcasts wasn’t enough, Day is also the author of novels and non-fiction – but her definition of success has changed. “Success for me now isn’t money based, it’s authenticity based,” Day told us at our International Women’s Day event. “It’s being able to be myself.”

The search for authenticity has been a long time coming. “For a long time in my 20s, I outsourced my sense of self to other people. Not just in a work setting, but also in romantic relationships. It was always more important to me to meet someone else’s projective needs, and I forgot to ask myself what I wanted or who I was. On one level that sounds selfless. But actually, it turned out to be really selfish, because it meant I never did the work to know who I was.”

Success for me now isn’t money based, it’s authenticity based. It’s being able to be myself.

Elizabeth Day

Day’s latest book is a work of non-fiction, called Friendaholic: Confessions of a Friendship Addict. “Friends have played a huge part in all of my life,” she said, “both the presence and the absence.” One of the reasons for the book was the “misplaced belief that for a friendship to be deemed in some way successful or good, it has to last forever.”

Having come through the other side of a divorce, and of friendships unravelling, Day knows how hard it can be to come to terms with. For anyone who’s ever felt that they’d ‘failed’ at friendship, this book will speak to you.

“Actually, I’m a big believer in the idea that a relationship is not a failure simply because it ends,” Day told us. “A relationship can be a useful lesson, sent with an in-built ending. I know that I’m forever shaped by all the relationships I’ve had in my life – past romantic relationships, but also past friendships.”

It takes a certain kind of bravery to embrace a failure. Whether it’s a friendship failure, or a career failure, or a relationship failure, it can be hard to find the lesson in the ending. But Day seems to have figured it out. After all, she’s the expert in failing upwards.

“I think for a really long time,” she said, “I, like many of us, fell under the pressure to put on the pretence of living my best life, but I was also wearing various masks. And I feel incredibly privileged that I don’t have to do that anymore.”

Find out more about marie claire’s International Women’s Day event here

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