Me, eight years later

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Today is a bit of a special day today, a day that marks a major transition in my life: today, 8 years ago, I graduated college with a B.A. in English/Writing from the University of South Carolina (Go Gamecocks!)

Once again, this day has inspired me to examine where I am in life and how far I’ve come since I crossed the platform at the Colonial Center in my red fishnet stockings and black Doc Marten boots that unrelentingly hot May morning. I remember wondering where I would be five years down the road, imagining what I would be doing and how I would be making a difference in the world. My career goals were fuzzy, and I had resigned myself to living out my days in my hometown and was a tad fearful of the possibility of just existing.

As I moved my tassel to the right side of my mortar cap, I never imagined that I would be raising a son in Alabama, so far away from my family; I never would have dreamed that I would be making connections with clients all over the country and getting paid enough for my writing in order to claim the title of “professional writer”. I had no idea where I was going, but I knew I would get there at some point.

When the road we take is not straight from Point A to Point B, we have, throughout our journey, the opportunity to acquire some crucial life lessons along the way that will eventually, if we are dedicated enough, guide us to where we want to be. Sometimes, even the most seemingly insurmountable trials can have fantastic rewards if we are open to them. Sometimes, the speed bumps we hit along the way reveal a part of ourselves that we never knew existed; a stronger, more assertive, more liberated self.

While I may not have had a clue so many years ago as to the twists and turns that would lay before me, I think I have zigged and zagged appropriately, and now I enjoy claiming my rewards — just never forget that hard work and persistence are never things to forego, no matter how comfortable things may be.

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Why we should hold on to our inner child

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Last night, I decided to create an Excel spreadsheet of the writing jobs I have acquired since living in Alabama. Within three weeks, I was awarded 7 writing jobs on a freelancing website I subscribe to and scour religiously each day. While most are just one-time jobs, I am ecstatic to be building my portfolio at a much more rapid rate than before, and I get work on a diverse set of projects with clients from all over the country.

When I lost my job last year at 8 months pregnant, I attempted to launch my writing career through Craigslist ads and freelancing websites, but only got about 3 jobs in 2 months, and none offered additional work. It was discouraging, but I kept at it. I took a break once my son was born just so I could completely bask in the glow of motherhood and watch and snuggle him 24/7, then other jobs came up that landed me back in another office doing the same old thing. Now, I’m in a different place, and I am fortunate enough to have the resources to be able to survive without an office job.

I was about 9 years old when I discovered poetry and started writing regularly soon after. My career goal was to be Editor-in-Chief of Rolling Stone. That might not be in the cards for me now, but what is in the cards, what is attainable and happening as I type this is the opportunity to be a professional writer. I now have the opportunity to connect with clients, keep my portfolio fresh and current, and I get to work on projects of all shapes and sizes. I am learning what works with job bids and what doesn’t; how to negotiate rates with clients; and how to market myself for long-term projects. If an office job pops up along the way, great — if it’s the right move, I’ll take it (afterall, I do have a son for whom to provide). But, until then, to know that I can earn a semi-sustainable income just on my writing alone is of incredible comfort to me and something I’m sure the 9 year-old me would be super excited about.

Single mom, unintentional

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Growing up, girls are raised believing that they will one day find their Prince Charming, get married and together have a beautiful family. Then, as the girl becomes a woman, and endures more than her fair share of slimy frogs. Where there should have been a white picket fence is a pile of bills, limited paycheck and a screaming, teething baby banging his head on the coffee table. 

Events precipitating this scene aside, being a single mom is twice, if not thrice, as difficult as being a mom with a live-in partner. As if parenting wasn’t demanding enough, a break is graciously possible with a partner there beside you to say, “You sit down and relax. I’ll change his diaper/feed him/bathe him/coddle him.” Being a mother becomes a 24/7 job with no breaks, not even to pee. And, as fulfilling as motherhood is, there is no shame in admitting that it gets overwhelming sometimes. 

When I first started this blog, motherhood was an idea of “one day, when I’m ready”. I never thought I would be a 30 year-old single mom living in Alabama, that’s for sure. I envy moms who have family living locally, but recognize that it is my choice to live 8.5 hours from mine. 

And, here I am, having survived his first week of daycare, the subsequent first upper respiratory/sinus infection and celebrating my baby boy being healthy again. I’ve traded late nights with Jim Beam for up-all-nighters with Infant Motrin and teething tablets, a lullaby playlist on Pandora, and dancing my little man to sleep as the moonlight washes over us through the bedroom window. Bad dreams are dissolved when I receive that big, toothless grin at 6 a.m. and it doesn’t seem so bad to wake up before the sun. 

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Being a single mom has propelled me forward. It has forced me to examine what I really want out of life, who I finally want to be and what I want to teach my son. It has afforded me the opportunity to carefully select who surrounds us and the influences that are acceptable. The best part is knowing that my dreams are not unattainable simply because I have a child, and that makes all of the hard work and long hours worth it. 

Ready to roar

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I woke up this morning with an insane amount of energy and enthusiasm. Could it be the two slices of peanut butter-covered white bread I had for breakfast? Perhaps, but I’m guessing it has more to do with the “Fake it ’til you make it” mentality I have recently adopted. 

I am beyond excited to make 2014 my biggest year ever, at least career-wise. I have knocked down the doors to so many promising opportunities, and while it may be a lot to juggle at first, I can’t wait to get started. I’m up for it. I’m ready. 

Like Katy Perry sings, “You’re gonna hear me roar!”

What are you super excited about lately?