For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a writer. I was the kid who was always reading, the one who would tell her teddies stories and the teenager one who wrote dark, moody poetry. As a child I’d spend my pocket money on new notebooks or the latest release from Jacqueline Wilson. I got A*s in all areas of English at GCSE, my passion for the subject never making it feel like coursework was a chore. I studied English Literature at university purely because I enjoyed it. Quite simply, I loved to read, to write, to create.
I have always said that if I get published once then I will be happy, I will feel I have made it. So far my work has been published on various websites and in two magazines, with more work that I have written to be published in the coming weeks. My work has been shared by various charities and organisations, reaching more people than I could have ever imagined. When I think of my writing being read across the world, I beam. To say that I have published work makes me so incredibly proud of myself.
This week I finished the first draft of a manuscript for a novel I have been working on for a few months. Usually I’d be humble about this, conscious that I’d sound like I was showing off or that people would roll their eyes at me, but I am learning that going for my dreams is never something I should feel I need to hide. It is a brave thing to do and I applaud myself for doing it. That doesn’t make me arrogant or selfish – it means I have worked hard and that I have every right to congratulate myself for working as hard as I do to turn my passion into my reality. Working on something solidly for months isn’t easy, so for me to have finished it makes me feel so incredibly proud of myself and of my achievement.
Nothing may ever come of this book. Having a book published is tough and competitive, but the first step to getting published is writing a book. If nothing more comes of it, that bit has been done. That bit has been achieved.
Because, whether you like me or my writing or not, it is an achievement. I should never feel like I have to downplay how hard I have worked and how much I have wanted to get to this point. It should be something I should be allowed to celebrate freely.
So often we don’t give ourselves the credit we deserve. We shrug off compliments and downplay our successes like they are nothing, minimising our struggles and lying about how much time and effort we put into getting to where we are now. It’s like we are scared to look arrogant or don’t want to draw attention to ourselves when we are doing well for fear of what other people might say or think. Sometimes we get negative reactions when we tell people about the things we achieve – but the people spreading the negativity are the people who are just jealous that you have gone for the thing you have wanted to. When I was younger and my mum would say people who teased me were just jealous, I never believed her, but I see what she means now. It’s easier to not try, to stay in your lane, to not push yourself. People who ridicule your hard work or live to put you down might not be jealous of the thing you are actually doing, but to be a person who stands up for what they believe in or works hard to make sure their dreams come true takes a lot of guts. Some people never take those steps so they spend their time tearing down those that do, jealous that they aren’t the ones making those steps.
But their jealousy shouldn’t detract from your happiness when you go for what you want in life. When you do that, you have every right to stand on the rooftops and shout about it. You should be able to want to high 5 yourself. That sense of pride you feel in yourself is there for a reason. There is no shame in admitting you have worked hard and there is definitely no shame in being proud of your achievements. If you’re proud of what yourself, if what you do makes you happy, then rave about it. Tell the whole world. Even if some people snipe jealously, you’ll have a cheerleader in me.
For you, it might not be writing a book. It might be mastering a smokey eye or completing a 10k or getting a promotion at work or finishing reading a book you’ve wanted to read for a long time. Whatever it is, big or small, life changing or life affirming, it’s an achievement and one you have every right to be proud of. To downplay it and blush, lowering your head like you’re ashamed, is to let yourself down. You’re the one that put the time, the effort and the work in – you should get to feel that inner glow of pride when it all comes together.
Own your hard work, your failures, your successes. Be your own biggest cheerleader. You got yourself there – celebrate it.