So, many of you who have followed me know that I have a goal of being a published author. You might be familiar with my story of how, after being rejected by publisher after publisher as a young adult, that I had given up on my dreams of ever achieving that accolade.
Yet the desire to work every day with the written word has never left my heart since the decision to put the pen down (or in those days, to sign off the janky computer that more resembled a beat up cardboard box that you find behind oddly named stores like Computers R Us.) The thing rattled louder than the AOL dial tone; the screen was an odd hue of green and yellow that surely, burned my retinas far more than any of this blue light that is such a hot topic these days.
Regardless, it was mine, and I cherished it as the Mecca from which my dream would ensue. But you already know the ending to this allegory, right? After years of receiving a depressingly simple, “it’s not for us,” in the dreaded one-sheet-of-paper-filled-envelope, I eventually was too heartbroken to continue, and pursued other dreams instead. Pleasant dreams, like going to college and being dumber than a bag of rocks, or partying with friends as if I had something to prove.
And as I moved from my twenties and emerged from the “fuck it, I’ll do it,” attitude that accompanies any proper college-going-young-lady, something else began to stir inside of me. Along with the corporate jackets and the straight-laced pantsuits (Jesus, what moron invented that trend?), I started to don something else…something I had ignored at that point, for many years: my call to write.
Long story short (it’s really not short, but go with it) I ignored that call. For a damn long time. That is, until the day I turned 30.
If you have reached this pivotal moment, perhaps you can relate. There you are, staring at yourself in the mirror, suddenly seeing three wrinkles appear on your forehead while incurring mild panic attacks as you reminisce about all the things you haven’t done, and…oh my sweet Jesus, does my skin look a little saggier in the cheekbones?
You do crazy-ass things that you swore you’d never be one of “those people,” like inject the shit out of your face with Botox. And when the initial panic resides, you sit in the seat of disbelief, wondering how in the world you’ve reached 30 and never done any of the things you always said you would.
I’m not alone in this, right?
It took 12 long and painful years to finally face myself in the proverbial mirror and realize that the small voice that I had ignored for so long was still there, waiting for me to answer. Write, it said. You are meant to be a writer.
And for a moment, I resumed the twenty-something attitude of a booze-brave lil lady and said, “fuck it, why not?”
Fast forward six months, and I sit before you, writing this article at 5 am precisely 24 hours after releasing my first ebook “21 Days To Purposeful Living” to the world. After failing so spectacularly 12 years prior, I had finally gathered the courage to publish a conglomerate of my thoughts, life lessons, and general mindset self-helpery into the world, with ideas of grandeur, success, and pride that FINALLY I had done what I always wanted: published a book.
You’d think maybe I’d be sleeping in today, coasting on my success, perhaps even congratulating myself with a bag of chips…or two.
But I didn’t. The reality of this “success” is entirely different than you might think. Why? Because yesterday I made some serious mistakes that 100% robbed me of any joy that I perhaps could have felt. It is these mistakes that I seek to write and share with you today, dear friend, in the hopes that when you have a moment like mine that you do not spoil it for yourself, as I have done.
So what the heck am I talking about here?
The two biggest mistakes I made during my book launch:
- My metric of success depended on other people
- I put my self-worth into the “success” of the book
The biggest takeaway from these mistakes? I took what should have been a proud, triumphant moment and completely spoiled it for myself. I wrecked my entire day and spent most of it either wallowed or debating whether I should just quit this idea of writing all over again.
But here I am. Writing. Go figure. Because with these mistakes came some harsh life lessons that, as the Universe loves, comes to slap you in the face when you most need it. It is these lessons that I hope you walk away from this article, ruminating and breathing them in, to take shape and form within your own experience.
So let’s get down to it: how did I fuck this book launch up?
Mistake No. 1: I placed the value of my self-worth within the “success” of the ebook.
Takeaway: Your version of success must not be tied to your self-worth
OK, so where did I exactly go wrong there? Let me break it down.
I am a very success-oriented person. Somewhere down the line of being an “achiever” and a “perfectionist” I somehow acquired the belief that I needed to succeed to feel worthy. This mindset is one of my personal limiting beliefs that I constantly have to challenge.
A limiting belief is a thought or a judgment that you have about the world, that limits how you experience your life. In my case, I believed that I had to succeed to receive validation for my hard work. The reason this is so detrimental, especially in instances like the launch of my ebook, is because my expectation of success is extremely high. If by chance I do not meet those expectations, then my sense of self becomes hugely compromised.
Instead of feeling proud or joyful that I had overcome my fear of failure, or that I had written a complete manuscript, or that I had accomplished an overall goal, all I could think about was my failure. And if I was a failure, my lovely brain provided all sorts of nasty conclusions, like “I suck,” “I should just quit now,” and “no one cares what I have to say.”
When we question our self-worth based off of silly metrics like success or failure, we are making our self-love conditional. And when this happens, we make it impossible to love or respect ourselves, because there is always going to be some condition that is not met.
It’s the equivalent of thinking that you can only be happy when you purchase your dream home. But when you put conditions on your self-worth or your happiness, you make it an “if-then” scenario. Does this mean that you can’t possibly be happy until you get your dream home? Are you doomed to be a miserable turd until then? What happens if life changes and that home you once tacked up on your vision board never comes to fruition? Is your life utterly spent in misery?
The same philosophy can be applied to our self-love journey. When we decide that we are not valuable to others based on whatever crappy condition we put on ourselves, we are limiting the love that we have for ourselves. Which, hello, is not actually love at all!
Thus in the case of my book launch, when I put the condition that I had to reach a status of success for my work (myself) to be validated, I placed all of the power of my value on this outside occurrence.
And what did that get me? Misery. Pure unadulterated misery all freakin’ day long. I robbed myself of my joy because I could no longer feel elated or proud of what I had accomplished because my self-pity was getting in the way!
So how do you avoid this situation again, if you happen to find yourself in the same quagmire of suckery?
Easy. Do not make your love for yourself conditional. Period. Learning to love yourself is one of life’s most significant and hardest lessons, and yet at its core, the philosophy is so simple.
Love yourself, because you see only the purity and the omnipotent strength and the peace within.
Love yourself, because you know that you’re worth it.
Love yourself, because you are meant to beholden.
Mistake No. 2: My metric of success depended on other people
Takeaway: Do not base your success off of anyone else, or outside conditions.
OK, so you might have already guessed how I define success for my book launch. It’s a numbers game, am I right? I based my success on how many copies of the new ebook that I sold. It seems like a simple, logical thought right?
In the western world, we tend to base success off of our monetary value. Specifically when it comes to our careers and how much money we make (or don’t.) I know that I had fallen into this trap more times than I can count, especially when it came to my wedding photography business, Lux Light Photography. So you would have thought that I’d have learned this lesson before, ya?
Well, I did. But life has a funny way of throwing you the same life lesson over and over until you are fully healed from the pain of that experience.
Do you know what I mean?
So anyho, without realizing it, I had decided that a “successful” book launch would equate to 50 people buying it on the first day. Seems reasonable right?
But here is the direct problem with this metric: my version of success was based on other people buying the book. Note I said, “other people.” This meant that in my head, I could not be successful unless other people validated my work. And because as you know, writing was such a huge dream of mine, I was placing the “success” or the worth of my biggest lifelong dream in the hands of other people (insert sad trombone here.)
And I’ll be honest with you. I did not sell 50 copies. Or 25. Or even 10. I sold 4, all of which were to my brother, my mom, and two of my friends!
Now I don’t say this to get in a shameless plug or a guilt trip. I mention this fact because I want to be entirely transparent on this platform – a concept I swore to do when I started it six months ago. I was tired of seeing the perfect and the flashy crap on social media with everyone’s wins. So here it is, the “failure” of my book launch for everyone to see.
I mention this also, as a point to say that even after “failing” so miserably and spending the entire day wallowing in self-doubt, I woke up this morning, turned on my laptop and wrote. I wrote this article in fact, because I am passionate about my craft.
Twelve years ago, I made the mistake of letting other people take away my dream to write. I let the repetition of rejection letters from the publishing industry decided that I “wasn’t worth it.” And I know the pain of putting aside my lifelong dream and pretending that I was made for something else.
If this sounds familiar to you – if you have pushed yourself to go out on a limb, and fallen flat on your face – you are not alone. I have done just that, within the last 24 hours.
But I want you to know that you deserve to have that voice inside your heart, that speaks to you of your deepest dreams, let into the world. You have greatness inside of you. You have value and worth and such innovation passion that this world, deserves to see.
Whether you succeed or fail, or go somewhere in between, there is not a soul on this planet that ever has the power to say you “can’t” or “shouldn’t.” You don’t need my permission or this blog article to tell you this. But if you need a reminder, here it is: your dreams were given to you for a reason. It’s time you loved yourself enough to let your light shine into this world and freakin’ go for it!
The outside world cannot and should not have a say in whether you value yourself or not. It is not the job of other people to fill you up. That’s on you, bae. And the way you get here? It’s by believing in yourself more than any success metric, more than any review you get from a customer, more than any naysayers in your life.
How you live your life is entirely up to you. Don’t shy away from failure. Don’t let it dampen your soul. You are made for more. So go out today, regardless of the hurt, regardless of the fear, regardless of the pain, and know in every fiber of your being, that you are loved and are meant to be here. SO be here. Do whatever it is you most want to do with your life. You’ve got this.