This is a bit of an unexpected post, inspired by my daily perusing of my Twitter feed, this morning. Innocently enough, I scoured the trending topics and words of my favorite celebrities, authors, local and national companies, among others. However, halfway through my scan, my interest was piqued. As a newspaper and magazine fanatic, a tweet with a link to an article with an interesting title captured my eye: “If You Want to Be Successful, You Have to Beg For It,” an article written by Cosmopolitan editor, Amy Odell: (http://www.cosmopolitan.com/celebrity/news/secrets-to-success?src=spr_FBPAGE&spr_id=1440_28464741). It wasn’t simply the overall premise of the article that captured my eye, but the fact that after reading several sentences, I realized it was about a career and field I desperately aspired to enter in years past: Journalism, but specifically, as a national magazine editor.
When I was younger, becoming a magazine editor was truly all I wanted. There was nothing better than the rush of interviewing people, whether it was the football star of my high school, or a teacher introducing the concept of “SMART boards” into the classroom (both individuals I actually interviewed way back when). It didn’t matter what type of article I was writing, but rather, I relished in the opportunity of actually being able to be published and have my words read and heard. However, writing and journalism never came easy to me. Criticism, as I’m sure with many others, was something I experienced and endured on a daily basis. However, I took it hard, probably harder than I should have, looking back. Though, one time in particular stands out to me where I actually proved true what author/editor, Odell mentions in her article. I was all of 15 years old and an incoming sophomore in high school. Each Thursday, my local county newspaper published a teen section entitled, “Reality.” Eagerly, the moment I could, I submitted my application a year prior to that, as a freshman. Much to my dismay, I was denied, as the editor of the section informed me my writing could “use improvement,” and “less adjectives.” Hearing this, though I was heartbroken, I was not discouraged. Back then, I roared with drive and momentum, eager to chase my dreams no matter how far or distanced they appeared and felt. I wanted to be that girl, the one who pushed her way into rooms and situations, determined to get the facts from whatever might be occurring; the one who never took no for an answer. I carried this mindset with me throughout my entire freshman year of high school, into the summer leading into my sophomore year, where I picked myself up and again submitted my application to Reality.
Weeks after submitting my application, again, I was denied acceptance onto the Reality panel, this time being told, my writing STILL needed work and revision, but to apply again the subsequent year. Again, I was crestfallen, wondering if I should terminate my dreams and change focus. While I flirted with the possibility of change, ultimately, I chose to stick to my goals and went on to become the News Editor of my high school newspaper. As an editor, I delved deeper into the field of Journalism, soaking in the active and busy life of the high school newspaper office, toting around my AP style guidebook as though it were the key to achieving my dreams.
As the summer leading into my junior year approached, for the third time, I submitted my application for entry onto the Reality panel. Much to my surprise, I received an email from the Reality editor welcoming me onto the panel. That day, I’ll never forget, as the element of surrealism is the only way to describe it. Suddenly, it felt as though the possibilities and potential were endless. Within weeks, individuals throughout the county and beyond would read my words, experiencing the thoughts running rampant through my mind. It felt as though my dreams were finally within achievable reach and for the first time, it felt my life was coming together the way I always hoped it would. The Reality editor congratulated me and applauded my persistence, impressed at my ability to withstand all he said and make the necessary improvements and adjustments to accommodate his requests.
Reading Odell’s article this morning brought back these emotions and lead me back to that summer leading into my junior year. I truly WAS that girl who was persistent, failing to accept no as an answer. Sure, I could have given up and interpreted his refusal as a sign that perhaps this was not the direction for me, but I chose to stick to what my heart told me and in the end, it provided me with an opportunity I know I’ll never forget.
All the same, the article this morning made me a bit tearful, as I reflected on what I’ve given up over these past several years. As I entered college, my major was communications/journalism, still believing I could become that magazine editor/journalist I aspired to be for countless years. However, as I entered my junior year of college, I made the shift to psychology, realizing how interested I was in the way the mind works and processes all it encounters. Still, I couldn’t help but feel the void in my life, as I watched my favorite journalist on the television, making a difference and encountering individuals from all walks of life. A heaviness still weighs in my chest with each magazine I open, as I notice the masthead and lists of editors who come together to publish the very pages I hold within my hands. Each month, I receive an amass of magazines, relishing in them and noticing each and every word on the pages. It makes me dream of how it might be to grace the offices of my favorite publications, having the ability to explore and write about all that lurks within my mind. There is so much to be learned and explored and I wonder, if perhaps I should go back to basics, sticking with what I want and know.
All I have to say is thank you to Odell for producing this piece of writing and for allowing me to ponder what could be the path my life should and will take. I thank her for reminding me I was that girl, the one who Odell writes, “You have to write again and again even after they reject you. If they don’t reject you, you have to write them until they respond. If they finally respond with a rejection, you have to think, Oh my god, I can’t believe that editor I am dying to work for wrote me back! It’s like we know each other! Next stop: brunch! Then you have to regroup and send that editor more story ideas.”
Often times, I’ll wait for people to come to me, in many walks of life, albeit old friends, old crushes, old employers, old coworkers.. I sit and wait, and wait, wondering if they’ll ever come or want to come. Much of the time, I come up empty, wondering if it is something I did wrong, rather than simply taking the mere extra movements or speaking the few extra words to reach out. How gratifying it would be to do this and again, Odell confirms this as she concludes her article, stating, “Don’t sit around and wait for someone to invite you to the party. Invite yourself and show up.”
So thank you, Ms. Odell... I think I will show up, because quite honestly, what have I got to lose?