Unhappy Achiever

Rejecting the good girl image and reclaiming the joy of inner fulfillment 

By Ashley Jordan

Unhappy Achiever is a ​story of healing, of revolutionary awakening, and of what happens when we summon our courage to step out from behind the mask of the “good girl” to wholeheartedly embrace our true selves and the joy of being perfectly imperfect.  

Published by Wonderwell
Release Date: February 13, 2024
Available in hardcover
288 pages
$25.99 USD

Our self-worth is not defined by capitalist culture. 

It’s no secret that women have been sold a bill of goods: we’re taught we can—and should—have it all and that happiness is ours for the taking… if. If we go to college and become a degreed professional. If we marry someone respectable and buy a house in a picturesque neighborhood. If we become the proud parents of two children. If we land our dream job, get promoted, or make partner. Women spend decades, even lifetimes, believing: If I can just do—or have—or become—that one thing, I’ll be satisfied, content, complete.  

Many of us nearly “do” ourselves to death, sacrificing health and relationships to arrive at some elusive, “ultimate” point of existence. Still, no matter how much we do, genuine satisfaction evades us. And the parts of us we sought to fill with the trappings of wealth, power, goodness, and praise somehow feel emptier than before. All the while, missing the most fundamental key to our happiness—the joy of inner fulfillment.  

For most of her life, journalist, public speaker, and former lawyer Ashley Jordan ingested the commodified myth, bought and sold on the open market of capitalist culture, that what was missing inside her could be fixed by something outside her. Then, shortly after her 37th birthday, life cracked her open. An unexpected trigger sent her spiraling into the darkness of traumatic grief she buried when she was 13 years old. These memories inspired a new perspective: love isn’t earned by what we do, have, or become. That everything Ashley needed to be, she already was at 37, at 13, and since the moment her soul made its home in her body.  

Deeply personal and openly forthright in the style of Erica L. Sanchez’s Crying in the Bathroom and told with the tender and soulful storytelling of Shauna Niequist’s Present Over Perfect, this is an intimate memoir of one unhappy achiever’s journey to discover the self underneath the accomplishments. Conjuring the courage to upend every aspect of her existence—from her friendships to her career to her marriage—to make her life more reflective of her heart’s deepest desires, Ashley shares stories of healing from loss, her struggle with eating disorders, perfectionism, stories of love and friendship, and the complex relationship between mother and daughter—and what we go on to teach our own daughters about self-worth.  

Unhappy Achiever is the story of how we use masks of achievement to buffer against the world and protect us from pain, how these masks keep us disconnected from ourselves and distanced from those around us—and ultimately, the magic, wisdom, and wholeness we encounter when we exist unencumbered and unobscured by external pursuits. 

Dustin Dunbar

Ashley Jordan

Ashley Jordan, J.D., is an author and speaker. Ashley has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, Woman’s Day, Teen Vogue, and more. A former attorney, she lives in Milwaukee with her three children.



Instagram: @msashjordan

Twitter: @msashjordan

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