It's been seven days since I wrote a story, thanks to a last-minute decision to take my kid to the beach for the first time in her life during the holiday. I'm still smiling over the look of utter joy as she pranced in the water, kicking at the waves as they crashed into her small frame. I want to laugh out loud as I think about how she lost not one but two toy shovels, and then subsequently took to throwing her last one into the water just so she (that is, I) could chase it as the water moved it up and down the shore.
But it's been seven days since I wrote a story, which means it's been seven days since I did "work" to get paid. I guess the short getaway did me good because I'm actually not freaking out too much about that. The work will come. It always does, regardless of how anxious I get about it.
Instead, I want to share that this week, it's been two years since I published my first article in a national publication. I actually left my full-time staff position in 2015; yet, in many ways, I still feel like I'm at the beginning of my freelance writing adventure.
This afternoon, I read an excellent piece by Michael Graff—a writer based in Charlotte whom I once had the privilege of writing a story for when he was editor of Charlotte magazine—on the definition of success. Here's a snippet:
Maybe success isn’t measured in achievements, or “being happy with who you are,” or any of the clichés in self-help books on this matter. Goals and personal peace are selfish markers, and I don’t mean that to imply selfishness is a bad thing, not at all. Selfishness is the axis of mankind, from cavemen to astronauts to saints on earth. Individual accomplishments bring community accomplishments bring worldwide accomplishments. But all of the accomplishments in the universe may not leave you feeling successful, right?
I’m rambling here, I know. But the point is, maybe success is a smaller calculation ... Maybe success is having the wherewithal to be grateful at the precise moment you have something to be grateful for.
Two years ago this week, I smiled so hard my face hurt when I published that first story for a national audience. That was success—a door I had been scratching at had finally opened. Since then, I've had other work-related successes: an editor reached out to me to ask me to write for her regularly; a story I wrote was featured on former VP Joe Biden's daily podcast; and I've broken into new publications this year, including O magazine, Healthline.com, and Rewire.News, on topics I care deeply about.
But those two days at the beach with my sweet two-year-old—who only threw one major temper tantrum, who wanted nothing more than to play in the water, and for me to hold her during the fireworks show? I call that success, too.