A Ban on Luck

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(*insert obligatory apology about the delay in getting the blog up and running here* Moved to a new apartment, lost internet, finished thesis (hopefully), etc. but I’m back now)

I’ve noticed a trend with myself lately. Whenever someone comments that ‘Oh, you’ve been published, that’s great!’ ‘Wow, you have an awesome job!’ or some other compliment, my first instinct is to say, ‘Oh, I just got lucky!’

For the past few months, I’ve been feeling incredibly guilty, and like a fraud because of the successes in my life. Like I don’t deserve them, and eventually someone is going to realize that there’s been a terrible mistake and strip everything from my hands and leave me out to be ridiculed like I deserve.

But that’s not true at all.

Nothing just dropped into my lap just because I was in the right place at the right time. Yes, some of the opportunities I’ve had, did come about in part to timing, but none of them would have happened if I hadn’t done the work to get to that moment. I don’t have my job just because it opened at the right time; I have my job because I have an awesome set of skills that I’ve worked hard to get, because I applied for a lot of jobs and worked hard to find this job.

Everything I have, I’ve worked my ass off to get. I didn’t get published because of luck. I was published because someone liked my story, and it’s happened over and over since then. Yes, I have people ask me to write stories when they’re short on numbers for anthologies, but that is because they know I can write, and deliver, not because I’m just lucky. I wasn’t pulled out of a crowd at random and chosen to be published, I wrote, delivered work, and kept at it.

The thing I struggle the most with as a writer, and as just a person in day to day life, is confidence. I have never been a very confident person. I don’t take compliments well, and I get flustered when people do compliment me. I brush them aside, ‘Oh, it’s not that big of a deal. Oh it’s nothing. Oh, it’s just luck. I’m very lucky, I know.’ or the infamous, ‘Yes, but…’ By doing that I constantly push myself down. I don’t brag about my work, in fact I’ve bashed my own work on several occasions. I hesitate to try to get on panels at conventions. I downplay my own knowledge and opinions. I’ve only just recently started to even tell new people that I’m published at all.

I’m more than happy to brag about my friends, and their amazing work, but when it comes to my own, I stumble and don’t know what to say. How do you walk that fine line between cocky and confident?

Truth of the matter is, I don’t know.

But I know that right now I’m not even near that line. I’m running somewhere between the line of spineless and timid. I can’t count the number of times I’ve said ‘I’m not so proud of that story’ or ‘I wrote that when xyz was happening so it’s not that good.’ It makes me a little ill that this is my first instinct, to deflect and downplay a compliment.

So this is my promise to myself (and to you all reading this) to ban the word lucky from my vocabulary, to stop brushing off compliments and down playing myself and my writing (and if you catch me doing it, call me out on it!). I’ve done a lot to proud of, and I have every right to be vocal about it without feeling guilty or like a bad person.

So, let me ask for some advice, how do you maintain confidence without coming across as cocky? Is being cocky really a bad thing? How can I be more confident and proud of my own work?

 

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4 Comments »

  1. sarah smith Said:

    Andrea, you really do have so much to be proud of – yes, you worked hard to be where you are in all ways mentioned above….you studied hard, you put that keen, sharp brain of yours into writing the intriguing stories you’ve written, you’ve been a great daughter to your parents, a precious granddaughter to me and so much more. Don’t ever sell yourself short to yourself or anyone else. Stay busy, be happy, and be true to YOU.

  2. hvymtlcowboy Said:

    I’ve felt this way ever since ‘Stars of the Kanri’, my first book was published. Positive feedback from my readers really helps. I try to let my work speak for itself and realize that people have different tastes. My number one bit of advice for confidence is ‘you’ve done this before, do it again. Only do it better this time.’ Confidence comes from doing the job over and over again. You may not do an awesome job every time, but you get the job done. Always do your best and you have nothing to worry about. I just finished my fourth book and that remains one of my guiding mantras. =)

  3. Laura W. Said:

    It’s like we spend so much time hearing how hard it is to get published, how many people there are who fail, how impossible the biz is…that when we ARE actually successful, we think we must have done something *wrong* rather than right because no way could it ever have happened to US!

    I kind of feel like this when I get a part I wanted in a play. There have been parts where I was so incredibly glad and grateful the director noticed me, and felt really lucky b/c I had no clue what I did to stand out — and then there are parts where I was like, “HELL YEAH, I worked on the audition and rocked it and I DESERVE this.” Either way, someone noticed your talent — and they wouldn’t have done so if there was no talent or hard work to notice.

    Congratulations. :)

  4. […] few months ago about putting a ban on the word luck, and I’ve been done pretty well with keeping my word and owning what I’ve […]


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