I used to be affected by other people’s words.
I used to flinch when they called me sheltered.
I believed them when they told me I was too short to be hired for stage acting or modeling.
I used to shrink when they praised marriage and motherhood like it was the only thing that a girl was created to do.
I used to wonder when the boys and men called me things like, “Intense, and various but almost identical version of “the impenetrable fortress.”
But I don’t anymore. I’ve realized that more and more lately.
Because my brain comes up with instant responses. Sometimes they come out of my mouth. Sometimes they don’t.
“You’re brave. I wouldn’t want to start a business in this economy.” And I think, “But I’m determined, and I know I’ll succeed because I won’t stop changing, altering and moving forward until I do.”
I hear, “The economy is failing. The taxes are too high.” And I think, “But most of the Fortune 500 companies were created in depression and recessions.”
I hear, “I couldn’t really get into your book,” and I think, “That’s alright. It wasn’t written for you.”
If I don’t know something, I can learn it. If something is not working, I only have to find what will.
Maybe all the work I’ve been doing on my mind and outlook for the past year and a half is taking hold. Maybe it’s a by-product of my approaching 29th birthday.
I’m getting confident. Sometimes the decisive statements that come out of my mouth shock me. I catch a man leering at me and instead of ducking my head and scurrying away, I glare back. Once upon a time, I let an old man trap me in a room, touch me because I couldn’t make my mouth tell him to stop, and didn’t push him out of the way when he blocked the door and kissed my forehead. Something snapped in my brain that day, something I’m still trying to repair, but I know this time if someone pulls a stunt like that, they’re going to find a totally different response from me.
I used to put weight on what the grown-ups said. If something couldn’t be done, it couldn’t be done. Now I think, “You only say that because you haven’t done that in your experience. It doesn’t mean it can’t be done, or I can’t do it.”
The words I’m not so good at changing are the ones in my head that crop up.
A nice boy talks to me. I wonder if he’ll ask me on a date, then worry he’ll want to spend all the time with me, that if I got married, I’d have to give up my dreams, I’d be on his agenda, his schedule, go where he has to go, do what he has to do and I’d lose me. Or he’ll drop me and walk away as soon as he finds out I’m not like the other girls who are eager to start a family.
I know my books will take off if I just keep putting them out there. But it doesn’t keep me from realizing they’re not coming up in the search engine, blanching when I realize that all of my editable text for Swing is gone, and it’s going to take massive rework to release it as an ebook. The pep talks are harder when studying “distribution” fine print that promises you less than a dollar in royalties but requires you to pay the expense of creating the books and buying back any that stores ship back as unworthy. It doesn’t keep me from crying tears of frustration when I work so hard and so long with such little results and find myself sitting alone in a house, scrolling through posts of all my friends who are posting pictures of their husbands and families.
It’s harder to fight the statement of “People don’t buy books anymore. They can just pay Amazon $10/month and read as many as they want.” And it’s true. In a world of second-hand online sites selling books for .99, why pay $9.99 plus shipping for a new one?
But I do.
Because I know the kind of man that I want to team up with, and I know what kind of woman I need to become to match him. If he’s meant for me, what I am will make up for what I am not. And we’ll be a force to be reckoned with. I don’t want to raise children; I want to free them from brick mills and prostitution joints, and clothing factories. I don’t want to write books to send off to a publisher; I want to create books that are treasures because they’re beautiful. I don’t want to act in movies that I can point out to my friends; I want to create films that change the way people look at the world. I don’t want to exist in a “normal job.” I want to thrive, I want to create, I want to be wealthy enough to support myself and people and causes I believe in.
Maybe I am intense. But I no longer think that’s a bad thing.
Photo courtesy of Catchlight Imagery.