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How I Came to Be a Writer

I was twenty-three when I found my way back to the career that I was destined for—or rather, when it found me.

When I was five, I wanted to be a part-time writer, illustrator, and paleontologist—and possibly the first female president.

When I was seven, I dog-eared the pages of Phyllis Reynolds Naylor’s “How I Came to Be a Writer” until they disintegrated.

When I was nine, I became the first student editor of the school newspaper—a smart move on my teacher’s part, who was likely tired of me correcting his spelling and grammar during class.

When I was thirteen, I wrote my first break-up song.

When I was fifteen, poetry and songwriting were my respite from the intense depression and anxiety that I had always battled.

When I was seventeen, I was accepted to Berklee College of Music after auditioning with a song that I’d written.

I was eighteen years old when I moved to Boston to pursue a career in music. I was two months into my first semester when the perfect storm hit: A traumatizing break-up, a severe bout of acid reflux, and a steady stream of musical inspiration from all sides. I had a million things to say, but my ability to sing had been taken away. The only thing left to do was to develop my songwriting abilities.

I wrote song after song—some for others to consume, and some that simply allowed me to process my emotions. Eventually, my voice began to return; but my confidence and passion for performing had dissipated. After nearly fifty music classes, it was my writing classes where I felt the most fulfilled. I didn’t have the strength to persevere in my increasingly advanced music theory courses; and so I made the decision to transfer to a public university shortly before my twentieth birthday.

I had intended to study creative writing. However, after five semesters of demanding songwriting courses, I was creatively burned out. When I found simple, straightforward success in my psychology and sociology courses, I was relieved beyond belief. My ambition compelled me to race through school; and when I began my final semester just over a year later, I was afraid to lose my momentum. I relished the feeling of having something come easily to me, and I wanted to stay in that position of security for just a little bit longer.

I applied to master’s programs and began my second degree in psychology at Brandeis when I was twenty-one. I learned a number of lessons in the course of the program, but none that I had expected to learn. I again discovered my passion for writing—first as I rigorously researched and composed my master’s thesis, which was published as a book in 2013; and again in a class where I was given the opportunity to write a series of autobiographical essays. In writing about topics that I was deeply passionate about, I innately knew that this was what I was meant to do, and it always had been. After realizing that running scientific experiments would never be my passion, I completed the program as quickly as possible, assuming that a master’s degree would benefit me no matter what. I immediately began searching high and low for writing opportunities within the field.

What I hadn’t anticipated was that having a master’s degree without real work experience wouldn’t help me—in fact, it would hurt me. Employers didn’t know what to do with a candidate who was overqualified in some ways, but underqualified in others. I went from knowing exactly what I wanted to do with my degrees to simply being desperate for any job that would hire me and value my contributions. I was ultimately unemployed for a year as I attended interview after interview for jobs that I convinced myself that I wanted. My spirit was revived each time they said that I was refreshingly different from any other candidate they’d spoken to. I envisioned myself at each of these jobs, no matter how disconnected they were from the path I wanted to be on. And when they got cold feet and never called me back, too scared to take a risk on someone with a non-traditional resume, it broke my heart every single time. You can imagine the state that I was in after a year of this. I had no idea who I was, what I wanted, or what I was good at anymore.

Shortly before my twenty-third birthday, I answered a phone call from a number that I didn’t recognize—something that I normally wouldn’t have done. It was a recruiter, calling to ask if I was interested in working in a call center for an insurance company. (I wasn’t.) But rather than immediately ending the call, for some reason, I said, “I once had a temp job as a receptionist, and I promised myself that I’d never take a job that required me to answer phones again. But here’s what I am looking for.”

I never expected to hear from him again. However, one day, he called me and said, “I have a job that I think you’d be great for. I know that you’re not explicitly looking for writing jobs, but it seems like it’s something you’ve done a lot of in the past—should I submit you for this?” I said, “YES. PLEASE SUBMIT ME FOR THAT JOB.” The company liked my resume and sent over a writing test. It was unlike anything I’d ever done—copywriting for a tech company, which wasn’t a concept that I even fully grasped at the time. I spilled coffee all over myself five minutes before the deadline and almost didn’t respond in time. But as soon as the hiring manager—my future favorite manager—read the sample, she offered me the job. The title was “Marketing Copywriter.” (I quickly googled “what is a copywriter” and liked what I saw.) I started right away. I was nervous but excited—and relieved.

Writing full-time couldn’t have come more naturally to me, no matter the topic. As it turned out, copywriting was the perfect challenge for my overactive mind, equal parts creative and analytical. I started off as a temp, and after my three-month contract ended, I was offered a permanent position. Eight months later, I was promoted to team lead, and I discovered that combining writing, editing, and leadership was exactly what I was meant to do with my life. When it came time for my next challenge, I took another copywriting position at a new company that I’d had my eye on. I continued to develop as a writer, but the job was kind of a nightmare; so in the fall of 2016, I was ready for something new.

Last November, when I was twenty-six, I got just the opportunity I’d been waiting for: To manage a growing company’s blog their senior content writer and managing editor. I was technically underqualified, but I had also been preparing all my life; and I had finally found a company that was as convinced of my potential as I was. I was thrilled—I still am.

When I was twenty-six, I also started a blog called Feather & Flint. I needed an outlet for the kind of writing that I had discovered a passion for in college, and again in grad school. I revealed a snippet of my journey as a writer in my first post:

“Writing has always been the common thread connecting each era of my life. Now, I’m three years into a career as a writer. Making a living as a full-time writer has been like returning to a long-lost country where everyone finally speaks my language.

However, in spite of the staggering number of hours that I’ve clocked in pursuit of degrees, good grades, promotions, raises, and other accolades, my most salient moments as a writer haven’t happened in school or at work. These meaningful moments have happened when I’ve worked up the courage to share my personal, just-for-fun writing with the kindred spirits that I’ve crossed paths with over the years. From acoustic songs about (surprisingly terrible) ex-boyfriends, to autobiographical pieces about living with anxiety and searching for a fulfilling career, this kind of raw honesty has been nerve-wracking but undoubtedly worth it, time after time.”

Chapter One: Why I’m Starting a Blog

My blog has empowered me to tell my story—from my career to my marriage, from throwing a dinner party to traveling the world. (And I’ve only just begun!) I wasn’t sure whether I’d find anyone other than my (wonderful) friends & family to listen, but I’ve already met some wonderful women who’ve shared their stories with me, too. I’m writing for Thrive Global, a company whose mission I deeply admire. It’s been an amazing journey so far, and I truly can’t wait to show you what I’ve got up my sleeve over the next few months.

I’m twenty-seven, and I finally get to do what I love from the time I wake up to the time I go to sleep. I can’t wait to see what the future brings; but sometimes, I feel like I’m already there.

Originally published at www.featherflint.com

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