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Success is Subjective

Hello writers and friends. As I reflect on my personal journey with writing, I have an overwhelming sense of gratitude. My professional career began in facility sales. I was an administrative assistant and regularly proofread copy and marketing materials for our department. I drafted emails, invoices, and newsletters for major business contracts on behalf of the organization. While I appreciated the lessons, I felt more like a machine and less like a human. I became automatic and bitter, so I decided to change my career into education.

Education led me down a path that was gritty and rewarding. Learning classroom management and curriculum was something I was interested in, but never actually did. I remember having 42 young students look at me in my classroom on the first day of school and think, "What am I doing?" Several years later, I realized that my students were some of the most creative individuals I have ever had the privilege of working with. I am thankful for having the opportunity to know them.

Through my years as an educator, I constructed 3-tiered drama lessons and curriculum for classroom use and developed a thriving educational program. We held three productions annually. My advanced group created and developed their own show from scriptwriting to production. We competed in district competitions. I developed the program process including auditions, rehearsals, and performance. I edited program curriculum, marketing copy, and continued my personal writing. It was an incredible time that I will never forget.

Then tragedy struck. Grief took hold of my family and took root in me. I truly reflected on my life goals. I struggled with my purpose and wasn't myself. By this time, I was three months away from graduating with my master's degree in mental health and wellness counseling. A gut-wrenching irony. I stepped away from a career I had been pursuing for years because I realized I was causing more harm than good. Although I loved being in the classroom, I felt as though I had lost my voice and in truth, I did.

I consulted my family and they graciously supported my decision. I took a "sabbatical" and decided to explore. I sought out hobbies and opportunities that I always had an interest in, but never really had the time to pursue. I took up acrylic painting, cooking, and developed my writing. I read books and attended workshops. I explored writing communities and critique groups. I dusted off old projects that I hoped to develop, but never actually got around to working on. Then, I started writing. I wrote for hours and hours. In a very real sense I felt compelled to write. I developed my voice. I solidified my goals and researched different options. Subsequently, a year and one month after my sabbatical, I published my first book and contracted my first freelance editing project. It was serendipity.

I have been editing and proofreading for years through my professional career, but it was never under my own name. I was anxious. I went from being behind the scenes, covered and protected, to now being exposed and vulnerable. Thankfully, I had several mentors and professionals that helped me along the way. Through this process, I've learned that the most debilitating thing you can do as a writer is succumb to fear. I've spent my fair share being afraid; afraid of the unknown, criticism, and sabotage.

I decided to focus on discovery. I discovered autonomy, confidence, and individual expression. My thoughts and voice are my own and I am grateful. I may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I am authentically me. I no longer carry the weight of expectations on my shoulders. Instead, I acknowledge the lessons learned and move forward. I understand that success is subjective and everyone has their own story. I have given up unfair comparisons and welcome mindful exploration. That's the beauty, my story is not exactly grand, but it's mine.

I have embraced my story and I hope to help others embrace theirs. For me, that is success.

Consider: How do you define success?

Conversation: Does perspective play a role in success?

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