It’s often difficult to know what someone else is thinking. It’s even more difficult to understand why they do the things they do. Or why they decide to take a chance on something not set in stone.
Sometimes it’s none of our business. It may not be our place to question other people’s choices or motives. There are certain times, however, when those things do become a part of our lives. Not because we’ve pushed the other person to the point where they feel uncomfortable. Nor because we want something from them. Perhaps it’s because they have our best interest at heart and want to see us succeed.
The very first time I put pen to paper, it wasn’t to achieve a goal. It wasn’t to write the next Great American Classic. It was, however, what I believed to be my salvation. I’ve always kept that in mind, but it wasn’t simply a thought anymore. It became my foundation as I made my way through 2013. I was writing new material on a steady basis and things were finally falling into place.
I was writing so much it didn’t feel like “work”. It was so natural, but part of it still felt like a wildly surreal dream. I thought this “dream” couldn’t get any better. Little did I know, however, my career was about to get another unexpected boost.
I was working on an article for The Good Men Project when Cameron e-mailed me with an idea that seemed so far away at the time.
“Hey Erin,” he wrote. “Have you ever considered writing a trial article for The Huffington Post?”
I began my reply with, “Yes, I have thought it…”
At this point, I was confident enough in my ability to write to take chances. I understood why I needed to take calculated risks if I wanted others in the writing industry to take me seriously. I also felt my decision to weave my cerebral palsy into my work might be an asset if I were to have something published by The Huffington Post. The thought of being published on by The Huffington Post was significant because I had always wanted to try to write for them. It was something, however, I thought should happen later in my career – when I had more time to prepare.
I expressed this to Cameron, and how important this was to me. I didn’t want to write an article simply for the sake of having my name in the public eye even more than it already was. I was well aware of the prestige attached to Huffington, having read many of their stories over the years. If I was going to do this, I was going to give it my all. And then some.
Cameron responded very confidently yet calmly, saying, “I think you’re ready now, Erin.” It was as if he knew what I was capable of before I knew, and I’m forever grateful. I also think he could sense I handled every opportunity I received with professionalism and pride, whether it was large or small.
Knowing that he had that much faith in my ability to write, at such an early stage in my career, made me feel like I was doing something that was bigger than myself. I did what I did because I wanted to do it – not because people were starting to know who I was.
I wanted more. The magic in my fingers began to truly bleed out. I let it flow until my hesitation was gone — until all I was left with were words. They inadvertently paved a path to a career and helped me find my real voice that rings loud and clear today – all the way to The Huffington Post and beyond. Writing for Huffington allowed me the opportunity to connect with other writers from all over the world.
I’ve affectionately become known as “the girl who writes for The Altoona Mirror” in my hometown of Altoona, PA. It’s a distinction I’m still trying to wrap my head around for so many years. Now, however, I want to continue to grow and do what I can to change the perception of disability.
I feel it’s a responsibility built into my job as a writer. Most importantly, it’s a constant reminder that respect is not given, it’s earned. When that happens, the sky is truly the limit.
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