Earlier this week I was throwing myself a pity-party. The thing I like about pity parties is that they can be thrown without planning and there’s always yummy food served, like chocolate, ice cream, and high-carb treats you might not otherwise snack on. As an added bonus, you can almost always get sympathy. And, if you’re lucky, a friend will join you (and bring a dessert to share).
My pity-party was a result of feeling inadequate for a book challenge I’m in. The goal is write a series of eBooks to publish on Kindle, and have the first one ready in 30 days. There are a little over 200 participants in this challenge, and most of them are professionals of some type. Their profiles boast of being small business owners, consultants, publishers, authors, trainers, marketing analysts, therapists, and life coaches, just to name some of the skill sets of group members. Each of them has a wonderful series of how-to books in mind, complete with clever, catchy titles to draw in masses of readers interested in those particular fields.
I got on Amazon.com to look at the most popular e-Books in my areas of interest. It seems like everybody and their dog is an author. There are tens of thousands of eBooks (maybe more; maybe millions) written by doctors, lawyers, professors, therapists, technicians, realtors, pet lovers with dozens of rescued animals, and mothers of 20 children. How in the world could I compete with all that? I don’t have a real estate license and I only have ten kids and three pets (that I barely tolerate) (the pets, not the kids).
Suddenly I just froze. I had been hopeful and excited up until I saw everyone else’s credentials. I started questioning my ability to write a successful eBook series. What did I have to offer the world? Zip. Zilch. Nada. I’m “just a nerdy mom” with no real-world marketable skills. Such was my line of thinking. What could I possibly offer anybody? Why would anyone want to read something I wrote? How did I ever come up with the idea that I could be an author? Hence, the pity-party.
Oh, I suppose I have some successes under my belt; but I don’t feel successful. When I was working at a large company for four years, I kept thinking the whole time, “When are they going to figure out that I don’t really know what I’m doing?” Instead, they just kept giving me awards, recognition, and asking me to train other people. I started out in a pool of 1,500 employees. About twice a year several hundred people would be laid off due to company downsizing, until there were less than 90 people left in my department. I was in the last group to be laid off before our jobs were shipped overseas. I guess that was an accomplishment.
I finished off my bachelor degree in 2013. The whole time I was there I kept thinking, “When are they going to find out I really don’t know squat?” But they just kept giving me A’s on all my papers and classes, putting me on the dean’s honor list, and inviting me to belong to one honor society or another. I graduated summa cum laude with a 4.0 GPA for my time there. Maybe I felt like I didn’t deserve it, because writing all those 10-16 page research papers came easy to me. Well, it wasn’t exactly easy, but writing is one of my strong-suits.
I’d procrastinate until the last minute, starting my paper the day it was due (or the day before, if I was particularly on-the-ball), and be fretting and stressed out. I wondered if; A) I’d get it submitted before midnight, and B) if I’d get a good grade, seeing how there was only enough time for my rough drafts to be final drafts. So when my papers and projects came back with A’s and positive feedback from the professors, I felt like somehow I fooled them. Either that or they gave A’s to everybody. I later learned from an academic counselor there that there were not a lot of people getting A’s.
On the home front, sure, I have a big family, and my kids are amazing, talented, gracious individuals; but I don’t feel like they’re amazing because of my parenting; I feel like they’re amazing in spite of my parenting. Still, people keep telling me I’m a saint, and a great parent, and Super Woman, and blah blah blah. I just don’t get it. I’m like Under Dog; just plain little old me (and older than I’d like to be) he he he and fiddle-dee-dee (if you’re too young to remember Underdog, he always spoke in rhymes).
I posted my self-deprecating thoughts in the Facebook writer’s group I’m a part of, and encouraging comments began to flow in. This is just a few of them:
You are not a “nobody!” As a mother of two, I’d pay good money to read a mother of 10’s perspective. Don’t sell yourself short. Start somewhere with what you know.
This is not about competition. This is about sharing what excites you. Accepting that you are not a “nobody;” just a woman who has something to say. Go and say it and enjoy the process. [Think about your dream], then take the plunge and recognize the excuses as fear. Who cares what other people are doing?
I am exactly the same as you, Tracy. I have raised kids, been self-employed, don’t have a degree in anything, no real following…..but you have incredible knowledge to share. Positive thinking, raising happy kids, games or crafts or sharing or refereeing fights, your religious experience, homeschooling (which is increasing), cooking for a crowd, cooking for picky eaters, fun things to do as a family, You have knowledge that many people need. Know that you have a message to share and that there are many out there that are waiting for your message. [Your books] may not all be best sellers, but that’s OK. A series is a great way to start out. Small books, full of great information, in the same category, all connected to each other. You can do this. You weren’t given the gift of writing without there being a good reason! Right?
Tracy, you have a wealth of information inside you and no one can say it quite like you can. We are all unique. Remember the Bible says there is nothing new under the sun. What has been said already has been said a hundred zillion times before. However, no one can say it just like you. There are people out there that will be drawn like a magnet to you.
After reading those comments (and the first chapter of Kristen Joy Laidig’s Author’s Quick Guide to Shaking Procrastination and Perfectionism and Getting ‘er Done),
I was filled with renewed purpose and motivation. My writing friends were right. Each of us has a unique perspective, because no two people have gone through exactly the same experiences in exactly the same way. Each person has something to offer. Will it be received or embraced by everyone? No. Does that matter? No. If it helps one person is it worth it? Of course.
So, my encouragement to you—my readers—whether you’re a professional business person or a “nerdy mom,” is to just go for your dreams. It doesn’t matter if everything hasn’t fallen into place first or things aren’t just perfect yet. Jump in with both feet and get started. You can make adjustments and corrections as you go.
What good is a GPS unit on your dashboard if you just sit parked in your driveway? You have to be moving in order for it to give you directions. And if you make a wrong turn, it will reroute you. So it is with life. If you want to live your dreams, you have to take the first step and then keep on walking. Ready or not, just go for it!