Why Bravery Is a Big Deal

In order to tell this story, I have to take y’all back to the dark days: the 80’s. If you were around then, maybe you were having a great time. I wasn’t. I had just suffered through the break-up of my first significant relationship and was absolutely heartbroken. I had a dead-end job at a retail store with weird hours. I was rapidly gaining weight, extremely unhappy, and completely unable to figure out how to fix my life. I didn’t have the grades in high school to go straight to college, but I knew that’s what everyone “should” do…so I signed up for some classes at my local community college. Two of those classes were writing classes.

I remember coming home (I still lived with my Mom) and being so excited after my first writing class. I’d reconnected with my first love: writing stories. I finally, FINALLY knew what I was going to do with my life. My oldest sister was visiting, so I excitedly told both her and Mom about my new goal in life: I was going to be a writer. It was perfect.

You can’t be a writer. You need a real job. You’ll never support yourself that way. You need to find something else to do that’ll make you money so you can have a life. That was the response I got. It put a huge dent in my new ambition, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me. What did they know? Maybe it could work for me.

Fast forward a few weeks later. I was still heartbroken over the break-up and still eating all my feelings. I had an assignment in my Writing for Television class: write a scene in a hospital. I did it, but I wasn’t happy with it. I wasn’t inspired by the topic, but I also couldn’t see straight because my feelings were everywhere. I got to class knowing that my scene was bad. Still, I figured the important part was turning it in.

Instead of turning them in, our instructor told us to pass our papers to the person next to us so they could read it out loud. Holy crap. Please no.

My classmate was not kind when she read my scene. She laughed at how bad it was. She made a show of laughing about it. Others joined in, to my horror. And the instructor did nothing to stop it. Mortified, I held back my tears until it was time for break and I went to the car. I cried my eyes out. Sobbed. Something broke in me…and I knew that I was never going to be a writer because I wasn’t any good. I didn’t think it…I knew it. Big difference. They all got to me to the point of convincing me I was never going to be able to do it. I knew I was a failure. I never went back to class.

I went to therapy. I quit retail and got an office job. And I shut all creativity out of my life. I saw my creativity as a stupid dream. Something that other people are successful at, but not me. I put up the wrong kind of boundaries everywhere. I stayed that way for years.

When I met my husband, I eventually told him that story and he was the one who pointed out that my class mates and teacher were jerks. Besides, who judges themselves on one bad assignment? (Spoiler alert: I do, I guess.)

Several years later, I got a job with a major airline. I took a huge demotion just to get my foot in the door, but I landed in the communications department. You see where this is going? I ended up reporting to a manager who saw me. She saw my ability. My creativity. And she nurtured it. Eventually, guess what? I was promoted to a full time management role in….COMMUNICATIONS. I was making a living as a writer.

Side note: Mom and I made peace about this a thousand years ago. She loved me more than anyone and always did her best for us. There are NO perfect parents. We forgive the ones we love. Anyone else doesn’t matter.

The point is…all of this woke up the fiction writer in my heart…and so here we are. However, when I finished “Maybe” I realized I needed to share the story with someone to get feedback. So that entire experience from the 80’s…the writing class from hell…came back to haunt me. I was afraid to share my writing, even with friends who care about me and would never be cruel. I had to talk myself through it, reminding myself that these friends care about me.

I ended up gathering my courage and trusting a few friends to read “Maybe” and I wasn’t disappointed. I told them I wanted to know the good and the bad…and they gave it me. Kindly. Helpfully. And here we are!

So I guess what I want everyone to take away from this is…do the brave things. Don’t listen to people who try to tell you what you can’t do (unless it’s play with a grizzly bear…probably don’t do that).

Go do the brave things. ♥