There’s a problem first off here. You have described a want, not a need. A need may be one of Maslow’s needs (food, water, shelter, safety, belonging, etc.). Those are intrinsic to all of us. Or a need may have to do with becoming more psychologically complete or healing. Learning to trust others (who merit trust), not being triggered (say, because of past hurt or bigotry), learning to apologize or listen. And much more. These are needs that usually show up in romances because finding connection is essential to these stories.
Justyna WANTS to become a top artist. Perhaps craves it. She may need to express herself, but she can do that without shaking the art community. She want recognition. That’s the focus.
Now, there is nothing wrong with ambition, provided it doesn’t become obsessive and harmful.
Proof: She didn’t pick up a brush for a year. It wasn’t the work that mattered, it was adulation. And when she realized she was stuck, she looked for a friend as a shortcut. (There’s more than a hint here, by the way, of Sloth.)
There’s a fall from grace (which is nice), and that leads to discovering the “need” is really a want. Also, good. She can be happy without the adulation and a pretended (entitled?) path to it. I like that turn. It shows her finding happiness within herself and not via the admiration of others. It feels like she may have defeated the sin of Pride.
The “want” feels garbled.
Does she want to help her friend? Or does she want inspiration (putting her back into the adulation spiral)? Is it necessary to stay in the US for the first? Couldn’t she help him from a distance? Is it good for her to take another crack at fame when that ambition messed her up so badly?
If these things happen after her journey from cleaner to graphic artist, it’s problematic.The “want” to stay seems to be pushing her backward after success as a graphic artist. She is back to lying and cheating (a rejection of her true self). She’s justifying bad behavior by lying to herself.
If it’s concurrent, it probably works, but that depends on how the choices are timed and interwoven.
I am a bit confused, but I hope I’ve sorted through enough for you here. I suspect it makes sense, or at least I can imagine how it might be put together. As written, Veronique feels tacked on. That may be a problem. Jay barely shows up.
Pride is big enough for a true arc and a powerful story, if you own it. Jane Austen did a good job with Pride. If you’re saying to yourself, “well, she’s not really prideful” and making excuses for her, it won’t be big, but it may be big enough for you. Not all stories have big character arcs. And that’s okay.
Some stories have secondary characters for arcs. That’s ambitious, which is great. But it might be good to get comfortable with one arc that has gotten steeper first.
I’m still here. Will not desert you.