There came a point in my life where I stopped feeling sorry for myself. That was the start of it all. I was like most people whose dreams were sidetracked or put on the back burner as I managed a family and life as I knew it to be.
I’d wake up at 5:45 in the morning, rush to get myself ready for work, and the kids ready for school. Between reminding them to hurry and finding a moment to eat breakfast, I never seemed to have enough time. I actually looked forward to work … it was my escape. How sad is that?
By the time I got home, my day was almost over. I’d pick the kids up, help with dinner, and get them started on their homework. Sometimes it’d go smoothly, other times I’d yell at them for taking too long. Then I’d feel bad for yelling at them for taking too long, so I’d reward them with an extra snack.
On the days the kids had practice, nights were chaotic. I’d spend a good half-hour chasing them down and yelling at them to hurry and bathe. Then I’d feel bad for yelling at them again. Part of me suspected they did it on purpose knowing I’d feel guilty.
When everything was said and done, my wife and I only had an hour with one another. That wasn’t nearly enough time. And sometimes I’d fall asleep on her as she tried to share her day and unwind. Those days made me feel horrible. But I’d wake up the next morning and start the routine all over again. It was crazy!
At no point did I make any me time. I didn’t realize how important that was until I started writing. Although I loved my family, I wasn’t personally fulfilled. I didn’t have a passion for anything other than them. As a result, I ended up being consumed by the stresses and responsibilities I imposed on myself.
My household wasn’t like those commercials you see on TV where the kid spills his milk on the table and the mom smiles as she cleans it up with a napkin. Oh no. That little accident garnered an automatic look of death in my household. It was the same look I gave them if they ripped a hole in their brand new jeans, failed a test, or bickered with one another as they played video games. Most of you can relate.
I’d scroll through Facebook or Instagram and wonder how many of those people were as happy as they led on to be. I mean … I couldn’t be the only one feeling the way I did. And how in the hell could some of them afford the vacations and outings they were taking? I couldn’t.
And then one day, out of the blue, I decided to, number one, stop feeling sorry for myself, and, number two, stop selling myself short. Number two was the biggest step for me to accomplish. I was just a nobody originally from Bronx, N.Y., I thought. What could I possibly offer the literary world?
I’d heard of so many author success stories from seemingly regular people. What made them so special? Was it their writing skills? Their inside connections? The endless amount of free-time at their disposal? Their financial backing from mommy and daddy? Heck, I had none of that. Or was it something else?
I grew up being told that “the man” was holding me down. I never met him, but I didn’t like him. It wasn’t until two years ago did I realize I’d been holding myself down all along. Once I realized that, I took off running with the goal of self-publishing a book.
I didn’t write my first crime fiction novella (not the Spanish soap opera type), Bound by the Badge: On the Job, because I thought it’d make me rich and famous. Lol, not even close. I had no illusions of “making it” in the biz. I simply wanted someone to appreciate my work and understand the message I was trying to share. But the longer I worked on my book, the more confident I became. So I asked myself a different question, “Why not me?”
Why can’t I “make it” in the biz? Why can’t I have some me time for a change? And so I decided to invest in myself. I’d have to wake up earlier, go to sleep later, and be a little selfish at times. It wasn’t easy, but it’s not supposed to be. With some hard work, dedication, and tons of family support, anything is possible.
And that goes for anyone, not just me. We make too many excuses or come up with too many reasons why we don’t invest in ourselves when we really should.
Whether I “make it” or not is still up for debate. However, as I embark on this journey, I ask of you two things: 1) Follow along while I try to figure it out. 2) Consider one simple question: Why not you?