I used to be so positive and confident. I believed in myself, had faith in myself beyond logic. I ran on my own steam, never looking for support or confirmation from others. And people looked at me and believed it would be only a matter of time before I’d get there, too, that I’d make it to bookshelves and live the fantasy writer’s life.
My mantra used to be “hard work pays off.” I honestly believed that if I worked hard enough, I’d succeed at my life’s passion. Success doesn’t happen overnight, nor does anyone hand it to you because you want it or ask nicely. I was never deluded in that way. I’ve gone through seven years of college and earned two degrees. And while being a college student, I worked as a waitress, line cook, hostess, and food runner for Red Robin, high school Track & Field coach, a barrista for Barnes & Noble (no, not Starbucks, but yes we sell their coffee), scooped ice cream at Friendly’s, unloaded trucks at Kohl’s, cashiered and made pizzas at Big Y, and taught 42 students a semester while working through a full graduate workload during my second and final year of grad school. Yeah, that was nuts. But I managed to get enough sleep and still find time to play WoW when I wasn’t grading papers or working on my almost 400-page thesis.
So… what happened?
I felt so crushed when I learned that the very mantra that kept me smiling and moving forward was insufficient, wrong. Hard work doesn’t always pay off. Back in May of 2011, I completed a Master’s degree and felt like I had nothing to show for it. No job, no clue where to go next, no literary agent. Just an expensive piece of paper, two cats, and a boyfriend I really wanted to break up with.
I went down a dark path that was only a sliver away from getting dark as dark gets. I often sat in my tub with the water running so no one would hear me cry. I just existed, instead of lived. I spent many a day wishing I’d just die. I was a failure, a total failure. I’ve done nothing but fail. Still, a tiny part of me begged to not give up, to keep trying. I’d truly fail only when I stopped trying.
I went to counseling, found myself an ePublisher who picked up my book, moved back in with my mom and, after six months of not really bothering to job hunt, starting working for my dad and stepmom. I tried as hard as any depressed person could to pull myself together and keep moving forward. My dad and I finally built the relationship we’ve always wanted and needed, and same went with my stepmother. I also learned that my entire family didn’t look down on me for not having a job; they didn’t care. They just want me to be happy.
Even though my life couldn’t have unfolded any farther from where I wanted it, some good came out of it.
Right now I still struggle to be happy. I know the key is relearning to believe in myself. It’s as simple as that. I’ll succeed if I adjust my attitude back to the way it used to be. In order to succeed, one must fail first. Right now, I seem to be cemented to the failure phase, and with some superglue binding my feet to the cement. I’ve been so desperate to get myself unstuck that I’ve been to a Reiki healer and even went to a psychic for chakra healing. Not really sure if either were worth the money or not, but oh well. All I know is that the root of my unhappiness comes from within, not without. I blame no one but myself. Yes, I embarrassingly admit I played the victim card, but that delusion didn’t last for long.
So what’s happened since?
I’ve gotten my first book published and bought my first car all by myself, a 2009 Prius. I’ve lost the 40 pounds I gained, gotten back into karate, bought Adobe Photoshop, started teaching myself how to use it with the help of YouTube, and now I’m working on drawing–yes drawing–a trailer for my first book. Once I finish the drawing phase, I’ll be visiting my undergrad college to enlist six Theatre kids to voice act for it. Should be fun. On top of that, I’m going back to college in January, hoping third time’s a charm. One thing I’ve had to admit to myself is that I really need a day job while I pursue my writing, my life’s passion. I’ve got a physical copy of the book in the works. I just have to rerelease my ebook without the lousy prologue, and with a better cover art and title. I’ve made friends with a second author who’s living exclusively off his writing (the first being Brandon Mull, and now the second Julius St. Clair). I’m also helping a 19-year-old revise his book (it was published in a sorry state, sadly) so he can rerelease it and hopefully start doing better. I’ve obviously also been working on this blog. I have no clue what will come of it, if anything. It’s far too early to tell.
If anyone could give any pointers on how to re-instill belief in oneself, faith in oneself, that would be great. My cat Sweetpea does a great job of showing me how to be happy and worry free, but I don’t seem to be catching her lesson.