We all wonder if we’re doing enough sometimes. We often watch the foundation of humanity fall apart because the world can be an unfair place. The feeling of helplessness creeps in and we’re left to wonder what we could, or should, have done.
There are other times, however, when we fall short on a personal level. We have to ask ourselves, ‘Have I done everything I can to help myself and others?’ ‘Am I prepared to work hard when I don’t feel like working – or when it seems like everyone else is sitting and watching?’
Perhaps it’s a simple question like, ‘Am I happy?’ or ‘Do I have everything I truly want in life?’
I was fortunate to be able to answer these questions without the feeling of overwhelming doubt going into 2014.
I was confident my work was doing something worthwhile – not only for myself, but for others as well. I also felt like the stigma and pressure easier to deal with. of having a disability became easier to deal with. I still had to prove myself, but now, it was because I was chipping away at an extremely high glass ceiling in the writing industry.
Having cerebral palsy only made the task more difficult, as it has been since the day my career started. The final months of 2013, however, proved to be an entirely different kind of pressure as I began writing the first draft of my first article for The Huffington Post. it wasn’t simply an article I had wanted to write for a long time. Nor was it something I’d been procrastinating over on purpose.
The premise of the article – how my cerebral palsy doesn’t define my life – was well-received by the handful of people whom I quietly told the idea to. They were established writers – most of whom I crossed paths with at Penn State Altoona during my time there as a student. Not only that, but Cameron was always within reach since hiring me at The Good Men Project in 2012.
I knew it would be a huge step for my career if I did this right. However, there was also a very high possibility the article would be rejected – as rejection is a big part of any routine as a writer. I told myself I could resubmit the article to the Editors at Huffington if it didn’t get published on my first attempt. I understood that was and always will be the tough nature of the writing industry, but I had a different way of thinking this time.
I asked myself, ‘How long have I been waiting, and preparing, for this moment?’ Then, I proceeded to tell myself I might not be as prepared for this in six months, as I was right then. I needed to write this article and try to get it in front of Huffington’s Editors. It didn’t matter if I could resubmit it in a week or six months. If I wasn’t ready at this very moment, I might have waited and essentially missed out on what I then regarded as the biggest opportunity of my life.
All of this writing, drafting and pondering led up to January 2014. My article was finished. I didn’t want to tinker with it any more than I had in the past month, for fear I’d lose its integrity. I reached out to Cameron to let him know I was finally ready to send my work to The Huffington Post for review. Having articles published there before, Cameron allowed me to send mine to him to give one final read through.
“I think you’re golden, Erin,” he said. “Do you feel comfortable with what you wrote?”
“Yes,” I replied. “I’m ready for this!”
With that, the waiting game began. And so did the pressure. It started to mount as I tried to send my work to as many publications as I could. Submitting my work to different places has always been a part of my routine as a writer, but it helped to pass the time while I waited to hear about my article. I looked at it as a welcomed distraction, which again didn’t feel much like work.
It felt good to be able to get to a point where I could simply enjoy what I was doing. I still had deadlines to meet, but I didn’t feel rushed. I found time to just live my life as a writer. It wasn’t a goal or something I had been thinking about. It happened naturally and it was a beautiful thing.
I did not want it to end. Nor did I want the feeling attached to it to go away – and it didn’t. After a few nail-biting weeks of waiting, I received word my article had been accepted for publication at The Huffington Post – the place I’d only read about since I was a little girl.
Sometimes you need to stop. You need to breathe and take everything in, instead of trying to be in the driver’s seat all the time. It’s the best medicine, next to laughter. It helps you focus. Most importantly, it helps you appreciate the world around you.
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