When you look back, you can see traces of that person inside you trying to emerge, but getting shut down for one reason or another. In my case, I was the kid with the wild imagination, never just playing or studying or riding in the car, but always creating dramatic narratives around me. In elementary school, I kept getting in trouble for pointing my finger at the teacher. I meant no disrespect. I was just absorbed in my own little universe, where the teacher was a character in an elaborate theatrical production, one I created by “painting” with my finger. Of course, no one bothered asking why I was pointing at the teacher. As these things go, I was just treated as a disruption to the class, because I refused to follow the script.
By the time middle school rolled around, I’d learned to follow that script – to swallow that wildly imaginative little girl, keep my head down, and do what was expected of me. The turning point happened when my father bought me a jacket with Disney characters on the back. After being mercilessly teased for it the next day at school, I wanted to burn that damn jacket. I had just learned the first in a series of lessons: it’s not OK to be me. And so I conformed. On the outside, everything stayed the same – I made good grades, had a circle of friends, and seemed well-adjusted. But inside, I felt an emptiness that over the years grew into the sense that my life lacked purpose and meaning. I could never finish anything I started, struggled through early college courses after all my peers had graduated university, and I had as many as 13 jobs in one year – some more interesting than others, some causing me shame, and all seeming to lead to nothing.
I continued to do the “right” thing until one day in my sociology class, I realized college education wasn’t for me, so I stopped trying to fit the mold and fight my true self. Instead, I embraced myself – closing the book, getting up in the middle of class, and walking out. That decision turned out to be a life-defining moment. It was as if something inside unplugged and released. I had no idea what my next step would be, but I allowed myself to dwell in that place of uncertainty, rather than trying to rush into something else. And it was in that place of not-knowingness that my first book appeared when I woke up one morning. It wasn’t a dream; rather a reality, clear as day – the beginning and end of my first book, Seeker of Time.
My job was to fill in the middle, which is exactly what I did, over the next four years, whenever I was doing something mindless – driving to work, shopping for groceries, taking a shower. I followed and expanded the story in my mind, breathing life into the characters. Four years later, the book was bursting at the seams of my mind, to the point where I could no longer contain it. Until then, I had kept it a secret, even from my best friend—my husband. I had never finished anything in my life, and the thought of sharing another idea, another thing, I would never complete caused me great anxiety. But during dinner one night at the Cheesecake Factory, I told him the entire story and waited in anxious suspense for his reaction.
He was blown away, full-stop. He told me that he believed in me and that I had to write the book.
With my husband’s validation, I felt the courage and strength to sit down and knock out the full prologue that very night. Following my initial burst of inspiration, I struggled terribly with writing, in particular, with my self-esteem as a writer. I hadn’t even finished college, so who was I to write a book? There were so many successful young adult authors in the world, and they all surpassed me with their knowledge and talent. How could I compete with that?
Not long into this internal battle, I got pregnant. Then life took over. Then I stopped writing. Then I went back to it, hell-bent on finishing the damn thing, yet still plagued by the demons of self-doubt...until one day, I had the proverbial a-ha moment: While a plethora of young adult books were incredibly well-written, with exceptionally developed characters and plots, I realized, they lacked depth and substance. They failed to provide guidance to the youth: deep spiritual questions and ways to approach the challenges in life. Yes, I thought they were good reads, but what happens when the book is closed?
Dropping to my knees, I prayed with a full heart. "Lord. let me be the steward of your work."
I wasn’t aware at the time, but at that moment, I got out of my own damn way. I intuitively recognized that I was a channel for something greater—and when I opened myself up to that power, it flowed through me. The next morning, I wrote with a ferocity unlike anything I had ever seen before, and after years of the book languishing on my desk, I finished it in two weeks flat. I completed my second book, start to finish, in one month, and completed my third book in thirteen days.
Since the night of my surrender, I have worked harder than ever before, but for the first time in my life, it hasn’t felt like work. I am living out my true calling, my life’s purpose, my heart’s desire. Writing is like breathing; a natural rhythm my body has learned. Like an arrow, I aligned with the purity of my soul and stepped into the skin of my true self. In doing so, I stopped feeling insecure, stopped feeling the need to conform to anything other than my authentic self. Instead, I feel grounded and confident in who I am. Just like Jax, Elara, and Cyrus, the main characters in my books, the purity of my intentions enabled me to jump through a portal, into a magical realm, where I now manifest my greatest self each day.
It’s your turn: Jump.