Why Aren’t You Making a Career of Writing Again?

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Why aren’t you making a career with your writing?  It’s a question I’ve been asked what seems like an inordinate amount as of late.  It’s as if the universe is converging on me from all angles to remind me, you would think unnecessarily, of that thing I love and why I should be pursuing it.  It all started with a text conversation with my best friend Meg.   She was walking down the steps at the train station on her daily commute and suddenly found herself thinking of all the playwriting I did in college. Random. “I swear, I did!” She promised me.  “You were so into writing then.” She continued.  Oof.  Total gut punch.

It’s not that Meg intended to zing me or say anything remotely hurtful.  It was just one of those off the cuff comments that gets to the heart of the matter and cuts right through you. And as a result I thought about it. A lot.  Arguably it’s much easier to be “into writing” when you’re in college and you have no real responsibilities outside of class.  Typically, you’re not paying a mortgage, a car payment, or worrying about your health insurance.  Your biggest worry is usually a hangover or cranking out that 20 page term paper overnight.  It’s much easier in that environment to devote a lazy afternoon to working on your “masterpiece”.  As an adult, it can be much harder to motivate yourself.  You get up early, work all day, and when you come home, often you just want to veg out and turn your brain off.  For me, even as a huge movie nerd, sometimes watching a new film is even more than I can stand because I want to avoid thinking just that much.



Ben Schwartz speaks the truth.


But still, I love writing.  It’s something I can comfortably say that I am good at. And so, theoretically it shouldn’t be so hard for me to make time for.  At times, I’ve beaten myself up for not writing and wondered if maybe my lack of production and motivation was a sign that I didn’t love it “enough” to make a go of it.  Ultimately I think that’s bullshit. Success and a career isn’t guaranteed to even those who want it the most.  It’s not a movie magic twist of fate.  If I’m honest with myself, it’s mostly a flaw in my own DNA, not a lack of love or desire, that makes it hard for me to motivate myself.  It’s something that bleeds into all aspects of my life.  It’s perhaps my fatal flaw.  This is going to make me sound like a real douche but bear with me.  I’m pretty good at most things I try.  I tend to be a fast learner and while I’m by no means an expert at anything, I can usually pick up on something pretty quickly and be average or a little above right way.  And so, when things are hard for me, when they require some real blood, sweat, and tears, sometimes (ok a lot of the time) (ok almost always) I have a tendency to bail.  Poor me, right?  I know. I’m coming off as a real asshole right now.

And so, here we are back at the original question I’ve been asked so much lately – why aren’t you making a career with your writing? Because I’m being an asshole, I guess is the most direct answer.  Because I’m getting in my own way and wasting my own time, is probably the more specific one.  But the silver lining to that brutal honesty is that I can fix it.  I’m the master of my own destiny.  It’s probably the biggest, most obvious lesson I’ve learned in my late 20s and early 30s. There’s a lot we can’t control in this world – the list seems to be getting longer by the day.  But we can always control ourselves, our perspective, and our approach.  I could have looked at all these inquiries about my writing as a downer, and I definitely let myself have a pity party for a hot minute or two.  But ultimately, I’ve looked at them as a chance to reevaluate my approach to writing and reassess my priorities.  It’s never too late to start over.  Hopefully ten years from now Meg with have another random thought and texting me about this time in my life will say something like, “that’s when you got so into writing again.”


A Little Perspective, A Lot Re-Energized

Self-awareness can be a great thing.  If you’re aware of your behaviors, shortcomings, moods, it can do wonders for your ability to manage yourself, interpersonal relationships, and navigate life in general.  But no matter how well we may know ourselves, there’s nothing like an outside perspective to shine a light through our dustiest windows, exposing truths we have left forgotten to decay in the recesses of our brains.


I am aware I am a rabbit.

At 31 I took a leap.  I felt myself stuck in the same gear, on the same path, chugging along from administrative position to administrative position, never advancing, only moving on to what I always perceived as “better jobs” because of…well, pay mostly.  I found myself making the most I had made in the almost ten years since I graduated college and I was completely unfulfilled and utterly miserable. And so, when I saw an opening I took it.  I make donuts for a living now. I make roughly half what I was, and yet, overall my quality of life has improved drastically.  It has thrown my brain into complete chaos, adapting to my new lifestyle with its ever changing schedule and sheer physical demands.  And while that can be stressful and anxiety inducing for the part of me that has spent my whole life organized and planned, it’s exactly what I needed – like a reboot for my life.

And still, as of late, I’ve felt a little as though I’m treading mud in lead boots.  My motivation and momentum has gone on holiday and I’ve been moody, depressed, and feeling rather lost.  And so, in a moment I cannot assign quite the correct adjective or characteristic to, I reached out to an old friend, someone I had not seen in quite some time, someone I cannot recall having ever spent time one on one with, and I set up a date for a chat. And that is why I find myself here writing this now; because I find myself energized, motivated, and inspired.  Because an outside perspective – and I really mean outside, not your partner, your bestie, or your work wife/husband – can hit you like a bolt of lightning.

I sat across from this self-assured, successful, put together woman for two hours tonight and while we did catch up on life, we mostly talked a lot about intentions, skills, fulfillment, and how much we’ve learned from failures and jobs that weren’t right for us.  She talked a lot about myself to me.  She spoke plainly about how she perceived me, the skills I had, my value professionally, and the steps I should be taking to achieve my goals.  When I confessed that I sometimes doubted my decision to take the leap I did, that I sometimes wonder what the hell I had gotten myself into, she reminded me that doubts are very human and at the very least it makes my life, and the book I will someday write, way more interesting.

Talking with my friend for the first time in months, very possibly over a year, during which time we had both evolved so much, I was reminded why I made the choice I did 7 months ago.  I was reminded of all the ways it was infinitely better for me than not.  And most importantly, I was reminded that momentum can begin with a single breath, step, word, or giant leap. Momentum is always lost only momentarily and it’s up to you how long that moment will be.  I’ve always considered myself very self-aware, certainly to a fault, as I love to torture myself with my shortcomings.  But someone else’s perspective has helped to reorganize my awareness – a little mental feng shui if you will. A message leads to a conversation to an idea to a blog and onwards.  I think I’ve shed the boots and I’m crawling forwards out of the mud.

When the Days Get Away from You

Do you ever wake up with the best of intentions and the day gets away from you?  Maybe it’s Sunday night and you think to yourself, “tomorrow I’m going wake up and be productive. I’m going to get my shit together”.  Monday morning rolls around and you stay in bed too long or you go to work, come home and just veg out on the couch.  Something happens and the day gets away from you.  All of a sudden the day is lost and you’ve accomplished nothing.  You wonder where all that motivation and determination went.  You vow to do better tomorrow. I feel like I have been stuck in this cycle for months and it’s killing me.


This is an accurate description of my life.

I am having a hard time getting a routine going.  Routine is key to success, especially for someone like me who is easily de-motivated by the idea of 30 Rock and my very comfy bed.  Back in September, as I alluded to in a previous post, I left my safe office job to work in an altogether different environment.  I make donuts for a living now and the while it’s a fun opportunity that gives me the chance to have weekday mornings and afternoons to myself for any number of things, it’s been a challenging transition.  My schedule changes from week to week and I don’t get my new schedule until the Sunday of that work week.  It can make it hard to have a regular routine and plan ahead.  My brain has not been wired for living this way since high school, and then I wasn’t so much trying to get my life together as, just hang out with my friends whenever I wasn’t working.

The idea behind taking this job was to do something different, happier, and less stressful that might afford me more free time to work on myself and my writing.  It was a change I am incredibly lucky to have been able to make and so far I have done very little with that opportunity.  A lost morning or afternoon has turned into a lost week, a lost month, and now months have gotten away from me and slipped through my fingers.  How is it that the momentum of accomplishing nothing, with all the bad feelings and self-flagellation it contains, is more sustainable and seductive than doing the things that are good for you, that you WANT to do, even things you LOVE to do?  Perhaps it’s the biting off more than you can chew scenario.  Maybe I should be starting small and building little accomplishment on little accomplishment.  Maybe I’m simply not organized enough.  Maybe, I’m making a whole lot of excuses, and spending time analyzing this weird purgatorial paralysis, when I should just be fixing it.


Bullet journals are supposed to help ease and focus the chaos and your anxiety. I never got past the anxiety part.

I tried making a bullet journal – a hyper specific method of breaking down your goals and time and covering it in washi tape.  I went to Michael’s and excitedly bought all the supplies I needed.  I started to put one together and can you guess what happened? I didn’t finish it. It was too open ended.  I didn’t know what graphs and charts to make. How to set it up. Buzzfeed article after Buzzfeed article did not help.  I don’t even know where it is now. In the end I bought a pre-set goal journal that just needs to be filled out.  I was supposed to get it all together before New Years to be with it and together for January.  Whoops.  But hey, I did write today! That’s something! Please don’t give up on me yet! I DO have it set up for February. And man, when February roles around I am going to be productive and get my shit together.

When the Shoulds Keep You Up at Night

We do so many things because that’s what we’re “supposed” to do. We go to college, look for the smart career with the steady salary and room for growth. We get married, get a pet, a house, have a kid or kids. But what’s the end game? What do you do when you tick all the boxes? What if you don’t want to tick all those boxes? So much of what I’ve wrestled with this year has centered around these kinds of thoughts. Do I want to do what’s expected of me? Do I continue down this path? Or do I veer suddenly and violently in another direction entirely, upending my narrative in an attempt to figure out what the hell I want to do with this finite and undefined amount of time I’ve been given?

This has been an in between year and a year of transition. My husband and I are saving for a house we hope to buy next year. We are biding our time on this momentary plateau. I was laid off from my job in May. It was a good thing in many ways. I was not satisfied. But I never settled into unemployement and a routine of trying to figure out what my next step should be. It was all panic and flailing resulting in what by all accounts is a very good job. I am making the best money I have ever made. I am being pushed and challenged. I have been here a month and I already know that I am vital and valuable and a great deal is expected of me. There is room for growth and learning. And yet, I am not happy. The prospect of paying my bills makes me happy. The idea of having extra money for the things I want, having money to save, and pay off debts, that’s wonderful. But coming to work every morning, sitting at my desk, and accomplishing those tasks I have been assigned. There’s not much I want to do less.

We are a generation that was raised on the mantra that we could be anything we wanted to be. To paraphrase Rocky Horror Picture Show, if we could dream it we could be it. I could have been a soap opera actress, a veterinarian, Indiana Jones, or a rock star if I wanted. My parents said so. So far I have worked in advertising, online retail, construction, solar, and now technology consulting. The closest I’ve gotten to digging up a fossil is visiting the Museum of Natural History. The closest to a rock star? Wednesday night karaoke and the one time I convinced my friends to form a cover band for one show before we left for college. Are we unfulfilled and forever searching for our “dream jobs” because of these childhood promises and fantasies? Is this job actually not the right fit for me? Or has my brain been wired for dissatisfaction doing anything that can simply be labeled as “paying the bills”?

These are privileged thoughts; believe me I know. I grew up knowing that my parents would have and in some cases did do whatever they had to in order to provide for themselves and me. There are plenty of people who don’t have the luxury of wondering how fulfilling their job should be because they’re too busy working two of them to keep the lights on. That knowledge definitely affects my endless debating as well, the idea that I should just shut up, keep my head down, and get the work done because everyone has to do something for a living and I’m lucky to have a job and luckier still to have a good one. It feels shameful and self-indulgent on some level to pine for something else, especially when that something else is not as financially sound.

I am standing on the precipice of an opportunity to do something altogether different with my life. It’s quite possibly my version of quitting a corporate job to sell ice cream in an exotic locale. It would afford me other opportunities to explore freelance writing in my downtime. It could provide less stress and more happiness (of course for much less money). And here I am agonizing over it. My brain is wired to evaluate things in terms of success, climbing the ladder, doing something “important” or even “impressive” with my life. My thoughts are so conflicted and mixed up with what I should be doing, what I think I want to be doing, and guilt for any number of reasons linked to those two things, I don’t trust and continually second guess myself. I make up my mind every hour and I’ve played out enough hypothetical scenarios in my head for 10 people. But in the end my brain keeps circling around one thought in particular, who am I living my life for?

What Do You Do When a State Embraces Hate?


Tomorrow night I’m flying to Raleigh, North Carolina to meet up with my husband who has been there for work since Sunday.  We booked the long weekend way back in February, before Republican governor Pat McCrory held a special state assembly vote to pass a controversial and hateful bill which denies transgender individuals the right to go into the bathroom that corresponds to the gender they identify with.  Had this bill been signed before we booked our trip, would we still go? I don’t know.  People with way more financial impact than me, like Bruce Springsteen, have cancelled concerts and PayPal has postponed opening offices there pending the direction this law takes. I don’t know what the right answer is in a situation like this.

House Bill 2 – the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act was passed in a special session of the state assembly that cost $42,000. It was a rush job based on false, inflammatory ideas, that caused state senate democrats to walk out of the vote in protest. At its heart, bills such as HB-2 uncover one of the most basic foibles in humanity as a whole, fear of what we do not understand.  I get that the whole idea of a transgender person can be very hard for people to comprehend. To feel completely disconnected from our own body and gender is a hard concept to grasp because most of us will never know what that feels like. Even someone like me, who considers themselves to be very progressive, is still learning a great deal about the transgender community and what it means to be transgender. But ultimately that’s the difference. I’m listening. I’m learning. I have empathy for those who are fighting for their rights and fighting to be understood at the most basic level. People like Governor McCrory are drawing conclusions based on very outdated and wrongheaded notions. They’re letting fear and ignorance dictate how other people are perceived and treated.

Basically, this really all seems to boil down to transgender females more than anything else. When we talk about a transgender female, a person born as a man, who now identifies as female, people like Governor McCrory and those who support this bill, only see a man walking into a ladies room.  Based on this complete misunderstanding of what it means to be transgender, they draw the conclusion that women are now at risk; that children especially, are being put at risk of molestation.  This hearkens back to old sex ed tapes of the 50s that identified gay men as pedophiles as well.  Gender identity and sexual orientation are not the same as sexual deviance.  When presented with this argument, they state that if transgender people are allowed in the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity, any man could simply put on a dress and waltz into a ladies room.  But really, a pedophile could always do that! It’s flimsy, insulting logic used to advance ignorant and discriminatory policies.  What’s worse, it actually puts transgender people at risk. I would argue that a transgender female walking into a men’s room is at much higher risk of harm than children in a women’s room with that same person.


These kinds of policies, this hateful and fearful climate in our country, is extremely frustrating and upsetting to me and it doesn’t even affect me as a white, cisgender female with boobs, hips, and medium length hair. I describe myself because cisgender women across the country, including someone I know, are now being accosted by people for going in the “wrong” bathrooms.  It’s become a witch hunt and it shows just how motivated by fear and ignorance these people are. And here I am wondering if it’s for lack of a better term, shitty of me to go to Raleigh tomorrow and bring commerce to a state that is so far standing firmly in favor of a backwards policy based on ignorance and discrimination.  Ultimately, I’m going to go.  I don’t know if it’s the right thing or not but I know that the actions of a few should never speak for everyone.  Artists like Cyndi Lauper and transgender front woman Laura Jane Grace have decided not to cancel their shows in NC.  In some ways, while I respect the message those like Springsteen and PayPal have sent, I also wonder if it’s almost ignoring the issue.  You make a strong point, and then what? There may be no right or wrong way to handle this but in the end I have to believe that there are many citizens and business owners in Raleigh who are as disgusted by HR-2 as I am and I hope I get to meet those people this weekend.

Body Image is a Bitch

I hate my body.  But, probably not in the way you think…

Body image is a weird thing. Growing up I wasn’t really a chubby kid. I did have a round face with chubby cheeks. I wasn’t rail thin but I wasn’t overweight either. I was fairly average I’d say. I went to a small Catholic school and from Kindergarten to 8th grade there were never more than thirty-two kids in my class. I guess something in my average-ness stood out, and there were no overweight kids in my grade to boot, so I was the fat one.  I got called the Goodyear blimp, Moby Dick, all kinds of awful things. And from that point on I believed that I was fat, ugly, and generally unloveable. I believed that through middle school, high school, and college. And during that time, I gained weight, until finally in 2010 I resembled in real life, the thing I had always thought I was.  I had made my outside match my insides. It destroyed me to look back at pictures and see how much smaller I was. How not fat I was. To see in the present, what I could not in the past. I was miserable. So my then boyfriend and I booked a trip to Disney and I vowed to not hate how I looked in those pictures. I got a trainer, I changed my eating habits, and I lost twenty pounds.


Me at 155lbs (give or take).

Over the next four years I lost thirty more pounds.  I looked great. I felt great. I was still considered “overweight” at 155lbs and 5’5” according to the BMI scale but I felt like my body was where it was supposed to be. I felt so comfortable in my skin for the first time, maybe ever. After my husband and I got married in 2014 I put on about 10lbs. Nothing crazy.  I was annoyed with myself but I was happy and taking it a little easy after the craziness of wedding planning. But then I got a weird lower back/hamstring injury in early 2015 and gained twenty more pounds. I’m still in pain every day. I can’t run anymore, and I feel out of sorts, frustrated, and mildly depressed.  But the crazy thing is it’s not really about the weight.  And that’s why body image is such a weird thing.


Me in 2010 at 205lbs.

I don’t feel like I’m fat. I feel like I look good in fact. When I have bad days and start to get down on myself I think about how little space I take up in the world, how I truly feel small in size, and how insane it is to label people when bodies are so different naturally. How they carry weight SO differently on their varied frames. I dress well and I know what works for my body. How much real estate do I take up realistically? About a square foot? This whole idea of acceptable vs unacceptable sizes is so obscenely absurd. I don’t feel the need to be a certain weight at all. I can’t stress that enough. And yet, when I see pictures from two years ago I feel destroyed by them.  In my head I’m screaming and pounding my fists against the walls and I don’t quite know why.  Is it because society and the media have ingrained the idea that thinner is better into my brain? I’d like to think that’s not it. Is it because I felt SO good and comfortable back then and so out of sorts now? That seems closer to the truth. But it still escapes me how I can look in the mirror today, think “you look great” to myself, mean it, and still long for the me of two years ago.

Me, today. No makeup. No Filter. (for real). Remaining confident though seldom comfortable in a body that will not cooperate.

So yes, I hate my body. Not because it’s bigger than it was or because it’s “better” to be thinner. But because I feel like it’s betrayed me. I feel like it’s given up on me, and I simply do not feel at home in it. It has affected how I see myself. Despite our best efforts, how we see ourselves can be influenced by so many factors. The mind, the heart, and the tangled web they create can trap us in negativity, doubt, and destructiveness of our own creation. Body image is a tricky thing and having seen it from so many different angles I still don’t understand it at all.

How Did I Get Myself Into This Mess?


Political science major who hates politics seeks refuge. Send help.

I am currently in self-imposed Facebook exile. I hate this election.  I’ve hated it since it started what feels like 4 years ago and I despise it now more than ever.  I majored in political science in college but I hate politics and I cannot stand talking about it or having “friendly debates” with friends about the issues.  I physically cannot stand it.  My stomach ties itself in knots. Because let’s be honest, even the friendliest of debates between pals is really just people stating and restating their opinion over and over without any intention of ever changing their mind.  It’s a masturbatory exercise in who can get the last word and I literally do not have the stomach for it.


So for probably the tenth time in so many months I’ve forced myself to step away from Facebook.  I’ve deleted the app from my phone, signed out on the home computer, and turned off notifications.  Why not just delete it all together?  I ask myself the same question every time I take these breaks.  At first my answer was always “Well Facebook is how people send out invites for events and keep in touch. I don’t want people to forget to invite me to things.” But honestly, that’s become less and less of a thing. There are, however, people I am only in touch with on Facebook who I don’t want to be disconnected from.  People like my elementary school gym teacher who helped me survive grade school bullying and is a wonderful person I’ve recently reconnected with. And beyond that, every time I think about quitting Facebook for good, something comes around where being on Facebook is necessary or helpful like raising donations for my Cycle for Survival ride later this month or the Bliss Community which is a healthy lifestyle group started by Blissful Eats founder Nicole Culver.

And the photos! Oh, who will look after all the photos after I’ve gone?! I have photos on Facebook going back to college; ten years of photos exist there! I don’t know where all of those are in real life! Many of them were probably on my college laptop never to be heard from again.  I’m a bit of a pack rat and where photos are concerned I’m definitely a hoarder of memories. So I can’t just deactivate my Facebook and abandon hundreds of memories. The horror!

So what’s a girl to do? My husband has never deleted his Facebook but has honestly barely touched it since our wedding two years ago.  How does he do it?! Why does it have such a hold on me and not him?!  Part of it is certainly that he doesn’t sit at a desk all day like I do.  When a lull in work appears, I hop on Facebook to kill the time.  My husband, by comparison is juggling a million different things from the time he gets to work until the minute he leaves.  But also, we’ve become, I think, a society addicted to validation.  We want to exist in an echo chamber or feedback loop where we receive constant praise about our fashion, travel, and food choices.  We want to hear that our opinions are valid and shared, not challenged. We want everyone to see how cool we are but also say how cool we are so we can remain confident that we are, in fact, as cool as we think we are. In small doses, I think it’s relatively harmless. You’re proud of something and you want to show it off and that’s totally ok.  But it can become insidious and more important and vital to your everyday existence than you realize fairly quickly and easily.


Sociality Barbie is an amazing Instagram account that perfectly encapsulates the image so many try to project via their social media. (Image property of Sociality Barbie)

I, for one, spend way too much time on my phone.  I’ve started filling my time with scrolling through Instagram or Facebook instead of doing the things I actually want to do like writing or reading, watching movies and catching up on TV shows.  It feels shameful to admit how much time I spend on my phone and how often I check Facebook or Instagram.  But it’s honest. So it is what it is and the good thing is I can change it.  I downloaded a great app called Unplugged that encourages you to set your phone on airplane mode and starts a timer when you do.  I find that however my brain operates, it responds well to situations like this.  If the phone is on airplane mode, nothing is happening on it. It’s a black brick and my brain can forget about it complete instead of wondering what’s going on when I could be receiving notifications or whatever else. I also recommend checking out this article for putting Facebook at a distance in your life if you’re having trouble cutting the cord completely.

Are you addicted to social media? How do you break the habit?