“I am a writer.” I remember the first time I introduced myself with that tagline. Someone asked me what I did for a living, and it just popped out of my mouth. It was a shock even to my own ears. For the first time, I wasn’t a journalism graduate trying to make it as a writer. I wasn’t working as a [fill in the blank with an entry level job] while I wrote on the side. My answer wasn’t qualified with a “Well, right now I’m…” I searched my brain for that caveat. Was this really true? Or was it one of those things you say to sound impressive, like the exaggerated accomplishments on your resume?
No, I realized, as images of my daily grind passed before my eyes. It was true. I had become what I had only dreamed of becoming. People actually pay me to write. Decent money. Well, decent is relative. But, enough that it wouldn’t be worth my time to work in the last entry level job I held. Lately, I have found that to separate myself from the hobbyist, I had to start adding the word, “professional” to my answer.
“I’m a professional writer.” The first time that rolled off my tongue, I wanted to cry. It had finally happened. It was a long journey to become a writer. And that road, played like a memory montage in a movie…
….The years of beating your brains to push out articles for literally for pennies a day, telling yourself it’s all for the portfolio….Giving those $2 articles for the web content company all the research and integrity of a $100 magazine article…Having a website buy an article from you, through an online writing service, and then posting it and assigning it a fake name to mask the fact they bought the content, instead of producing it in-house…Going on so many ‘normal’ job interviews that you know are wrong for you, that your interview suit gives out from wear….Trying (unsuccessfully) to convince hiring managers that you are indeed an outgoing, fun-loving, social receptionist-type, when you are clearly an introverted, thinker, type…Watching the years roll by and knowing that your years as the “pretty young thing behind the front desk,” have probably come and gone, and you still haven’t “become” anything…Jumping up at a moment’s notice to take that temp job answering phones for the day because the receptionist called in sick…The judgment of college-bound seniors when you are their co-workers and clearly past your prime for that job….Running into high school classmates that are now business owners, and you are their—cashier….All of this, because you are trying to make it as a writer. And you trudge on, keeping that dream before you….
And suddenly, I looked around, and it had happened. It wasn’t an exaggeration. It wasn’t pretense. It was true. For the first time, I was no longer a floundering no one that couldn’t seem to find footing after college. Not only had I become something, I had become exactly what I wanted.
Now, I wouldn’t say I’ve arrived yet. My life isn’t the dream. I still have much further to go. But there is an all-encompassing peace I have found. Assurance. Confidence. For the first time in a long time, maybe ever, I am comfortable with who I am. And I am almost, exactly, right where I want to be.