Don’t Let Your Successes Go to Your Head or Let Your Failures Go to Your Heart

Apparently, Will Smith said that. I didn’t put quotes around it, because I’m not sure that the quote is exactly correct, but Mr. Smith, feel free to let me know if I have not given credit where it is due.

Anyway.

I just finished crying. Why? Because I am having a hard time, and sometimes crying is the only thing in the world that makes sense. I certainly don’t make a habit of it, but when it happens, I try not to forcefully stop it either. The moment always seems to pass eventually, giving birth to a new moment that is much less painful, and often times blissful.

I had taken a long break from blogging, not for any particular reason. I’ve been busy. I finally got a diagnosis, and I’ve been in the throes of treatment. The good news is that it’s almost over, but I’ll touch more on that subject later. I don’t have the patience or energy to talk about stupid illnesses today.

What’s more important is what I’ve been doing to fill my time. See, being homebound comes with this amazing gift of time. Nine days out of ten, I am overjoyed by all the time I have to do certain things. Most days, I clean up so that the house is presentable. I never miss my favorite shows. I have been able to read some fascinating books. I’ve been doing some sewing here and there. I get to spend quality time with both of my adorable furry friends.

And, finally, I decided to put my writing skills to use, embarking on a journey as a freelancer.

“Freelance writing” was always this thing that I’d heard people talk about doing, but I just assumed they had some sort of professional qualifications. Perhaps they had a degree in journalism. Perhaps they had a job as a reporter or a grant writer or something verbally related. Perhaps they aced the SATs or had an astronomical IQ or whatever would make them smarter, better, and more skilled than myself. Point being, I forever and always gave myself excuses to never pursue this option. Until I did. I don’t know exactly why, but something in me said I just had to try it once.

My very first gig out of the gate was amazing. I shouldn’t even say “was,” I should say “is,” as it is still ongoing. It’s a subject I find interesting, and my client is thrilled with my work. All of the feedback has been positive, I’ve gotten a great rating, which has made subsequent jobs easier to get, and I have gained a ton of confidence. I started applying for more jobs (and was actually getting them) and sort of started to entertain the idea that I just might be a writer after all. 

And then there was this job. This one that is stripping me of my belief that I even know the English language. My client is extremely particular, and I am having a very hard time tailoring this piece to their needs. I’m trying really hard, but it’s not working out as smoothly as I’d hoped. I just completed my third rewrite, and I know I’m in for at least a fourth and probably more. I am terrified that the client no longer believes in my ability–that I’ve been exposed as the fraud I think I might actually be. I’ve contemplated quitting… and I’ve contemplated just letting them know that I’m not going to charge them anything for my work. After all, at the end of the project, I’m probably going to only have 200 words or so to show for it. It’s not even that I really care about the money–I care about making them happy–but fear is telling me that I don’t have the skill to do it.

I’m lucky to have a writing mentor (total serendipity), who has told me more than once that I do, in fact, know the English language, and that not all assignments are easy. Not all difficult assignments are failures. Not all failures warrant throwing in the towel. At the same time, It’s just not easy to pick up and carry on. Forget applying for other jobs at this point; I just need this one to be finished so that I can regroup and figure out if I have the stomach for this whole writing thing.

Then I read that Will Smith quote. I probably did let that first assignment go to my head a little. Don’t get me wrong–I absolutely needed the confidence to be able to attempt to break into the field. That said, I should have known that the path would not always be that simple. That was just the universe opening the gate for me. No one ever said I wouldn’t trip over a branch now and then (or straight up run into a tree). 

The other quote that comes to mind is a Marianne Williamson one… something about people being much more afraid of success than failure. Maybe what’s really bugging me out right now is that I am on the brink of choosing a path that has momentum. I don’t know where the momentum will lead, but it is in motion whether I’m ready for it or not. If I just let it pass by, then nothing changes. I’m not a writer. I’m not anything. If I choose to ride the wave, I have to start taking responsibility for my work. I have to charge what I’m worth. I have to accept and implement feedback even when it doesn’t make so much sense to me. I have to strive to improve. I have to put myself out there. It’s unnerving.

So another quote appears in my head, this one from a woman named Melissa for whom I used to work:

“At the moment of decision, the universe conspires to assist you.”

What are you going to do today?

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