By Jennifer Flaten
I've got dreams in hidden places and extra smiles for when I'm blue.
Sometimes, what at first seems like a negative event actually turns into an opportunity to try something you've always wanted to do. I had the perfect job. Well, the perfect job for me; it was part-time and flexible. My boss let me fit work around my kids' school schedule. It was great. I got out of the house, interacted with adults and as an added bonus, I made enough money to help with bills and give my family a little "fun" money.
Everything was great and then the economic downturn hit. Like every other company, my company started to feel the pinch. They specialized in large corporate meetings; once the economy went south, the first thing clients did was eliminate their large corporate meetings.
At first, the company insisted we would weather the downturn just fine. A few months later, a couple of employees were let go, but the company assured us remaining employees that they did not intend to let anyone else go.
No one believed them. I was especially worried, and it was only a matter of time before management decided that they no longer needed a part-time "office gal" in their satellite office. Each day, I went to work ready to hear the words "You're fired."
After a month of uncertainty, the day finally came. I walked into work to find my boss and the district boss huddled together. The minute they invited me into the conference room I knew this was it.
While they both were very nice and it wasn't a total surprise, I was shocked by my sense of loss. I'd worked in some type of job since I was sixteen years old. I went back to work after each child. It was part of my identity -- what would I do now?
I cried on the way home, and I spent a few days moping. Then about a week later, I began to see the positives in the situation. Sure, I enjoyed working and goodness knows we could use the extra money, but this was an opportunity for me to relax a little bit.
Like most women, I spent the better part of my life juggling work and home. Now, I could finally enjoy myself a little bit. Who doesn't have a list of things to do "if I only had time"? I certainly did.
I could spend more time with my recently retired mom -- we could do some cool day trips or just enjoy a long, laugh-filled lunch, something we hadn't done in a long time.
Speaking of the kids, this was a great opportunity to volunteer for more field trips and classroom activities. My kids were young enough to want me involved in school so why not take advantage of my suddenly clear schedule? I didn't have to juggle work and field trips. I could say "yes" on a moment's notice, which I was never able to do before.
Plus, there was something else, a little niggling question -- what would happen if I actually dedicated myself to writing full-time?
For the past couple of months, I was doing a bit of writing on the side, squeezing it in between everything else. I wondered if given the opportunity, I could make writing into a full-time career?
I admit I was nervous. Who was I to think I could be a full-time writer? Sure, I published a few pieces in the local paper, but would this translate into a real job?
I continued to toy with the idea, filled with self-doubt, but then I remembered a piece of advice I read on a writers' forum.
"You have to fake it, until you make it."
On the surface, it is pretty strange advice. It sounds hokey, perhaps even a wee bit suspicious until you really think about it -- you have to believe in yourself and present yourself as confident, capable and successful until you really are all of those things.
I wasn't going to become a full-time freelance writer by sitting there thinking about it. I had to go do it.
In order to succeed, I had to try and I had to fail. The trying is a piece of cake; it is the failing that is the hardest part. I had to view every rejection as an opportunity to improve myself. I won't lie to you -- maintaining that attitude is easier said than done.
Receiving a rejection is hard. Writing is a very personal endeavor; you are presenting a piece of yourself to the reader. To a writer, hearing the words "Your piece isn't right for us" is akin to hearing, "We don't like you."
I try to maintain the attitude that a rejection means I tried. You only get what you put into it. I am officially a full-time writer; my work is published -- not as often as I would like, but I have built up a client base and I do make money from my writing.
Some days I want to give up, but I don't. I keep trying. I am also a lot happier and I still find plenty of time to do the items on my "if I only had time" list.