Five years ago I helped launch the most ambitious book festival in the Pacific Northwest and I was scared shitless.
At the launch party, a fancy dinner hosted at a private home overlooking the Columbia Gorge, I meekly held a glass of wine and admired the A-list authors in attendance. The authors I invited. The authors whose agents and publicists I spent months talking to and negotiating as to why it would be an awesome idea to send their talent to this brand spanking new festival. This festival that was filled with promise and about to be revealed.
I was eavesdropping on stories of these great literary minds and I was afraid to put my hand out and say, “Hi, we’ve spoken before.”
When you’re afraid, usually someone will step in. That someone was the founder of the festival, a man saw how hard I worked. He pulled me into a conversation he was having with some of his fellow authors, sang my praises, made me blush, and ended by saying, “Can you believe she’s only 18?”
That’s when when all of the strength inside of me shriveled up and died.
I was 18 and I helped launch an incredible event and I was scared. Scared that I would lose credibility with one of these authors who I had an email and phone relationship with. Scared that someone would say that I was too young and that I shouldn’t be involved at this level. Scared that someone would think less of me because of my age. And, let’s be honest here, scared that someone would take that glass of wine out of my hand.
I have spent most of my adult life fearful that someone would close the door on an opportunity because of my age. A big part of that is because my life has been on fast forward since I was 16.
When I was a junior I left my high school and started taking classes at the community college through a program called Running Start. For anyone who’s attended a community college, you know that the demographics range from 16 to 60+, and so do the professor’s attitudes towards Running Start students. Some professors embrace the early-achievers and some think they should stay at the high school. It’s all about confidence, performance, and blending in.
So I blended in.
I graduated with my bachelor’s at 20 and began my Masters the next term. At 21, I finished with the requirements for the program, moved to Seattle, and was the first of my friends to get married. I defended my thesis at 22 and can now slap an “M.A.” at the end of my name. I move through life on fast forward.
Over the past two years as a full-blown “adult” working a full-time job, finding new hobbies, and building new friendships I have not been proud of myself and I have not embraced who I am—a dreamer, an achiever, an ambitious young woman. And that’s probably the worst thing to admit to myself.
And I am tired of it. I am tired of being ashamed of everything I have worked hard to achieve and everything that has made me who I am. I am done with pretending. I am finished with trying to blend in. I do not want to be embarrassed about anything that I’ve achieved “so young” in my life. I do not want to be afraid that someone will “slam the door” on my face when they learn about my age.
Because no one has before and no one ever will.
I am ready to own it: my achievements, my failures, and my dreams. I need to believe in myself and know deep down in my core that this is who I am and this is who I am supposed to be. I have accomplished a lot over the past six years since standing at that dinner party and I want to do more. Much more.
After recovering from the dinner party and the festival in itself I opened up to the Director, my manager, about how much I loathed when the Founder would tell people my age. In response, he said something along the lines of this:
Remember that he’s a writer and all of these people are writers, too. They love stories and you are a great story. Someday, maybe one of them will write about you.
I am a great story, dammit. And I’m going to be the one to write it. Welcome to my blog.
Photo Credit: maria.see photography
You are a great story.
And thanks for the invitation to your blog. I’ve long hoped that one day when I visited your Twitter profile, a shiny blog URL would greet me instead of that godforsaken LinkedIn page.
And now that it’s true, I know it was worth the wait.
All my best to you.
And welcome to the world of blogging.
Be careful. As much as you’ll change the blogosphere, it will change you.
Probably for the better.
Welcome! Welcome! Welcome! This has been a long time coming (been several months since you and I chatted about you getting this launched) and I’m so happy to see you take the jump into the world of blogging.
You will not find a bigger advocate out there for starting a blog – it has literally changed my life in so many ways over the past 12 months – above all, focus on why you started this, today – for your love of writing. Love what you do, the rest will fall into place.
I can’t wait to see what you have in store. I’ll be a regular around these parts!
“I am tired of being ashamed of everything I have worked hard to achieve and everything that has made me who I am.”
Why would you be?! This, YOU, are an awesome story! I was the opposite of you. I was late. I graduated college 10 days before I turned 25, and have spent the last several years watching everyone I know beat me to the punch – getting married, buying a house, getting their MBA, whatever.
But here’s what I’ve learned for myself. Life is what happens when you make plans. And more importantly, you are where you are supposed to be. I own my place in the world now, and it’s so much better to own and embrace who you are and where you are at.
Own it. Celebrate it. LIVE IT.
I found you via the fabulous Matt Cheuvront. I look forward to reading more of your story.
Oh, and one more thing. Every time something scares you, just plow right into it. Best challenge I ever gave myself.
Laura – I’m excited to see where this blog goes!
Compared to others, I’m a blogging newb too and am in awe of all the excitement out here 🙂
Your first entry captivated me and inspired me, just wanted you to know (rather than stay anonymous in the big ol’ blogosphere).
You hit this one out of the park, lady!
And to echo Andrew…I have been waiting for your piece of cyber real estate to hit the web. Welcome. So glad you’re here!
This first post is so full of vulnerability, truth and deep insight. Good. For. You.
Can’t wait to read and learn more!
What a great introduction!!! We’ve chatted through email about your background but you never explained it quite like that. Beautiful. I wish you much success with this blog, you know I’ll be reading!
What an inspiring story! Sort of like “I’m here, bitches – welcome me to the blogosphere” with a bang!
Don’t stop with the blog – you’re going places!
I’ve got some great people you should meet in the Seattle/Portland area. Let me know and I’ll hook you up.
You’ve set the bar, now I look forward to what you will do with this.
First of all thank you, everyone for your comments and support! I think this is something I’m going to stick with for awhile.
@Andrew, Yes, that damn LinkedIn URL is gone and my own is here to stay! I’m not looking to change the blogosphere, but I’m fully prepared to let it change me (heck, Twitter alone has opened so many doors for me already!). Thank you for the best wishes!
@Matt, I know I said this on Twitter but I’ll say it again: THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, for all of your words and your support over the past few months. You really helped me decided that this needed to happen.
When you said: “above all, focus on why you started this, today – for your love of writing. Love what you do, the rest will fall into place.” — that’s exactly what I plan to do!
@Theresa, I’m so excited to meet you here (Thanks, Matt!). I realize it’s completely unrationale to feel that way about myself and that’s why I’m done. The power is gone.
I totally agree with you that “you are where you are supposed to be.” That’s something that I’ve been thinking alot about lately and it’s completely true. You cannot live your life comparing yourself to how others are living. My life is how it should be in the way that I’ve built it for myself and that’s all anyone should expect (oh, no, do I feel a blog topic coming on the horizon?).
I love this part of your comment: “Every time something scares you, just plow right into it. ” Beautiful words, my dear!
@Jen, Hello! ::newb fist bump:: I’ve checked out your blog and see that you have a love for the Ukraine. I went on a reciprocal exchange to St. Petersburg, Russia in high school and the relationships I built with my fellow students will always be near and dear to my heart. Yes, I know the Ukraine is not Russia but it was heartwarming to see the Slavic language on your blog. I look forward to learning more about your story!
@Cali, Thank you for the welcome. I, honestly, cannot believe vulnerable I’ve made myself. But it feels good. I look forward to putting more of myself out there. 🙂
@Lindsey, Thank you for the comment, it means the world to me.
@Nick, Well, I wasn’t going for that, but I like it and I’ll take that platform and run. And by run, I mean write. Would love to hook up with your peeps. I’ll shoot your an email. Thanks for the offer!
@kr, Thank you! Now to raise the bar or maintain it?
Added to my feed reader!
Laura, as hard as it is to constantly hear “Wow, you’re ONLY how old?” … it’s because those of us who say stupid things like that are jealous of your drive, passion, and accomplishments, not because anyone is trying to make those accomplishments less. You SHOULD be proud. If the Laura I know has been trying to “blend in” all this time, then I can’t wait to see the hidden dynamic.
Hugs, and welcome to the blogsphere,
“old lady” Bri
I’m so proud to call you my friend! You’re an inspiration in every way, and I’m sooooo excited to see what you write next and what you do in life. Remember, you are amazing, and you have a ton of support whenever you need it.
@Brianne, Wow, Brianne, thank you for those words. I honestly hadn’t thought that the “you’re HOW old?” comments were a form of jealousy. Not gonna lie, it kinda makes me feel squishy inside. Thanks, Bri, can’t wait to show you what I’m made of either!
@Karina, Thank you for keeping me grounded and helping me find direction over these past few months. I’m proud to call you my friend as well and I am glad you’re one who’s there. 🙂
You officially win the best first blog post ever award.
I can’t wait to read more from you.
Don’t you ever lose that wonderful attitude.
You need to continually be on alert for people and situations that work to make you one of the “normal” and “average”.
One of the Walking Dead.
I’m 56 and know too well about this.
Remember also, what is sometimes said to you may seem rude, mean or stupid,those are times to question what is their intent.
It can be an extreme challenge to see the good in some comments but, you will grow stronger, wiser and be calmer because of it.AND you will be fun at parties and every one will flock to you to get some of your time 🙂
Good luck and thanks for the post.
Wow. Laura is straight blowing up! Must have been our chat at cupcake royal. It sure lit a fire under me.
I really love the forcefulness:
“I am a great story, dammit. And I’m going to be the one to write it. Welcome to my blog.”
@Noah, ::takes a bow:: Why, thank you, I’ll accept the award and continue earning the prestige!
@John, You’re totally right about questioning intent of people who may not be supportive. Granted, they may have a point but what I’m gleaning from your comment is ultimately you need to listen to yourself. If someone says a comment that rubs me the wrong way, it’s okay to take a step back and wonder why that is. Thanks so much for your words and stopping by! My attitude is on fire and I don’t think it’s going anywhere soon 🙂
@Cameron, You know, something did shift in me before, after, or because of our talk at Cupcake Royale. That was a big week for me and really helped launch the momentum inside of me to move forward. And I see you are moving forward, too with your relaunch! Which, by the way, I love. I’m glad we could inspire each other!