Almost exactly a year ago, I had coffee with my high school boyfriend to catch up and talk business, as I was a month away from self publishing a novel and wanted to make sure he was cool with the character he’d inspired. He liked my writing and didn’t want to stifle my creativity, but we spent the majority of our visit discussing our lives, barely touching on the book at all. After a couple of years without speaking (simply because we’d gone down such different paths), it was nice to chit chat like we were teenagers again, and as he drove me back to my house, he remarked that I had accomplished so much more than he’d ever expected me to.
“In my field of work, you need grit to survive. You truly have it too, but I never saw it before,” he said.
I’d been waiting to hear those words come out of his mouth for half a decade. Right before we broke up in summer 2007, he said he’d always underestimated me and couldn’t name the reason — there was just something about me that he couldn’t take seriously or have faith in. I decided at that moment to prove him I could create something amazing, but when he admitted I’d surpassed his expectations many years later, I didn’t feel satisfied that I’d shown my former flame he’d been wrong about me the whole time. I was just happy with my own accolades, and I didn’t need his — or anyone else’s — approval. Even so, that extra support brightened my spirits, and I could really use it right now.
He’s not the only one who’s ever questioned my ability to achieve high and make something of myself — he was just the first to admit his initial assessment had been off. Lately, I’ve had a lot of people express doubt about what I can do and become, and it really hurts because what I really need is encouragement, not negative energy and put downs that are only going to make it harder for me to get where I’d like to be.
I’m not saying everyone has to send warm fuzzies and gold stars in my direction — I’m just saying I’ve made significant life changes over the past few months and would appreciate some compassion from the people closest to me. Less than three months ago, I left my life in NYC for a fresh start in Los Angeles, where I have lots of connections, family members, and friends. In that time, I’ve gotten several paid freelance gigs along with a promising internship at the largest media conglomerate in the world. Am I earning buckets of money or a full-time employee? No, but I’m taking care of myself and trying to build a new career path here. In a few months, I’ll be in a better position, all because I took an excellent opportunity that came my way shortly after relocating to LA.
It would just be nice to hear that the people closest to me are happy and proud of the things I’m doing. My siblings have been very supportive and agree I am slowly but surely making it work. Others have been less than enthusiastic and helpful, but luckily my mom is quick to defend me to those who find it necessary to roll their eyes at my choices and compare me to my peers. Just a few months ago, these same people thought I was amazing for “making it” in New York, and suddenly I’m a rudderless ship train wreck simply for trying to rebuild my life.
I guess I should be thankful that my mom is in my corner, but there’s room for plenty more. I’ve gone this route before — the internship turning into a job one — and things worked out for me then. You remember this all too well, so why criticize me for deciding to do it again? It would be one thing if I did this for a journalism position, but I’m switching industries. Sacrifices are necessary, so lay off of the ones I’ve made — I don’t need backlash from others on top of everything else.