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Jessie Stephens on the failure she didn't want to talk about.

From the outside, Jessie Stephens' life appears quite idyllic.

She is a best-selling author, a regular on The Project, a co-host on Mamamia Out Loud and a new mother.

Despite being in a life stage right now that has been filled to the brim with success, Jessie wants you to know this - even in the moments she is 'supposed' to feel her absolute happiest, there are inner struggles. 

Most recently, one of her biggest challenges has been grappling with a 'failure' in her eyes. 

Despite the incredible success of her new novel Something Bad is Going to Happen, all Jessie could focus on for a time there was the fact it wasn't picked up in the US by publishers.

"I'm not going to post on Instagram 'Hey! Just got the fourth email saying the US has passed on my new book'. You don't see the fact it hasn't sold internationally. Even among what appears to be success is failure," she says this week on But Are You... Happy

Watch: Jessie Stephens on No Filter. Post continues below. 

Video via Mamamia. 

Jessie's first book Heartsick did extraordinarily well. It was also published overseas in the US, which paid Jessie very well indeed.


"It was a quarter of a million in Aussie dollars. It felt like I had won the lottery. That was a life-changing amount of money. That was exciting, and it has afforded me a level of happiness," she notes. "I don't know how many copies it sold, but it wasn't a bestseller."

It's this sort of response to 'failure' that Jessie says she's had for a very long time.

She still distinctly remembers the moment in year eight that she didn't win the creative writing award.

"I'm obsessed with external validation, probably because I have self-esteem issues. I was on this treadmill where I thought 'If I just get this job, or this opportunity, or my life looks a certain way, then happiness will be on the other side of that."

Discovering that this sentiment was in fact a mirage was a tough yet necessary realisation. 

"I'm someone who is not very good at saying no to things. I saw the end of pregnancy as a finish line for my entire career."

Before welcoming her daughter Luna in July, Jessie's calendar had been full - the multitude of commitments on her plate growing. 

She says it led to feelings of burnout.

"You get so exhausted and so self-absorbed, because your job and your time is the most important thing in the entire world. It's like 'Nobody is as busy as I am', and that's a self importance that is really ugly. I felt like I was becoming a bad person," she explains.

As someone who describes herself as very achievement-focused, Jessie feels she has finally seen the benefit in taking a pause from "the hamster wheel of 'do, do do' for external validation".


It's a newfound discovery that has coincided with motherhood.

"I will look back and this will be a period of absolute bliss, and this is as good as my life will ever be. I feel like my happiness has gone to places I didn't even know possible, from those completely ordinary moments of having a baby smile or cuddle.

"It's falling deeply in love. She's made my life so much bigger and happier. It sounds boring and cliché, but every morning when I wake up - even though it can be really hard - I remember 'Oh god I get to be your mother'."

Nowadays it's the smaller joys that make the biggest impact on Jessie.

Jessie's new book recently became a number one bestseller in Australia which brought a big smile to her face - but it didn't compare to the moment her daughter Luna farted so hard that she began to giggle. Jessie found more joy in that. 

Considering just a few months prior Jessie was diagnosed with pre-natal depression amid her pregnancy, her mental health today is a gift she doesn't take for granted. 

"The times I feel my happiest are when I'm with my dog, family, husband and my baby. That's why I'm so happy right now is because I feel the values are somewhat in order. I still have an enormous pull to the career stuff. But right now is the happiest I've ever been."

Feature Image: Instagram.

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