So you are a writer now?
Hearing that one sentence from an online acquaintance was enough to bring on those unwelcome fraudulent feelings that I have fought with so often in my entrepreneurial career. While I feel like their question wasn’t intended to be meant with malice, the fact of the matter is, I have changed direction a few times and that can be confusing for people.
As a creative, I have re-invented myself in my career as my life and family needs have evolved over the years. Even though I have plenty of supporters, it only takes one comment for me to forget all of the positive ones and focus on that one.
Can I call myself a writer? Am I good enough to give myself the title?
We are sometimes unconsciously branding ourselves online with our activities. And the evolution of ourselves and our brand is so strongly intertwined that we can be unknowingly documenting that evolution on social media. So it’s natural for people on the outside to be confused sometimes when you start new things. And that doesn’t mean that they disapprove, but perhaps they just don’t completely understand where you have landed. Most likely, unless they are your best friend or family, they aren’t following your every move so it can seem like one day you are doing one thing, and the next time you show up in their feed, you are doing something else.
But the fact of the matter is that I do wonder whether I can call myself a writer now. And I know that the questions from outsiders are a reflection of their confusion, as not everyone can understand why I left a successful career—for the second time—to start again with something new.
And sometimes I wonder that too.
It’s in the darkness of night when I am experiencing those fraudy feelings the most intensely; I am worried about whether or not I am just being pompous about my skills, or about whether my clients will think I am not qualified enough. I wonder whether or not I will get paid those outstanding invoices the next day, and I wonder the ultimate question of my negative self-talk:
Is my best work already behind me? Can I replicate my success again?
I have been lucky enough to have two very successful, yet separate careers. I landed my dream job just two years after graduating university and had nine great years there. I got to do a lot of cool things for that large paint company like track trends while traveling the world and name new paint colours. Then I transitioned from that to a sales gig, which allowed me the flexibility I needed with small kids. I received accolades in both jobs, but now I have started in a new industry, translating some of the skills from my past careers to writing.
Ultimately, it’s all new. And it pays less.
So while other people don’t really understand how and why I made these transitions, I have to remind myself of what my personal goals are going forward.
As a woman with children, as half of a married partnership, I’ve had to be agile, and sometimes that has come at a cost of what was originally my chosen career. As I have made adjustments so that I can be present in my children’s lives day to day, I’ve maneuvered and applied my skills in a different way to make that work.
And sometimes that doesn’t make sense to other people. So when they are looking in from the outside with curiosity, I start to doubt my choices.
Have I made the right decision? Why didn’t I just ride out my paint company job and collect that pension that would be waiting for me when I eventually retire?
But being a creative person, I have always been curious, almost to a fault. It is easy for me to become bored with something once I have mastered it. And it is probably because of this that I have shifted and grown and had the desire and nature to try new things.
So while I try to learn and grow into this new career called writing, I remind myself of why I am where I am, keep my personal goals, mission, and family in mind, while fighting down the occasional fraudy feelings from my naysayers.
The biggest naysayer being myself.
Defining my version of success means that I am working part-time, doing creative work that I love while being present for my partner and family.
And if I can make that work, then I know that my best work is to come.