Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Guest Post: Tess Hardwick

Look Fear in the Face
Have you ever looked fear in the face and said, I just don’t care?” - Pink  “Glitter in the Air”
I graduated from college twenty years ago.  The twenty years between now and then feel like a flick of a magic wand, a wink of my daughter’s eyes, a breath between youth and middle age.  Of late I think a lot about what I would tell my twenty-one year old self to do differently.  I know exactly.   “Play it less safe.  A lot less safe.  Believe in yourself.  Don’t listen to that voice inside your own head that whispers cruelly in the night, “‘you aren’t good enough, you don’t deserve it, things like that don’t happen for people like me.’”
And I would have listened to that quiet voice inside me that told me what I was, way down deep in the essence of my soul.  I would have charged ahead in that direction without reserve.
You and my 21-year-old self might say to me, “Yeah, but I need to pay the bills.”  I agree.  You have to pay the bills.  And there are student loans and rent and everything else that drags us into the practical instead of the sublime.  But let me tell you something.  All that will still be there in twenty years.  The question will be, are you doing something that you love, that matters to you, or will you be trudging to work everyday thinking, “I hate my life.”
Listen, I get it.  I know it’s a frightening world out there.  Everything on the news is bad - the economy, the environment, unspeakable violence, natural disasters.  But there is no reason that any of it needs to discourage you from pursuing your dreams.  When I look at the people in the world who are successful, who say they live their dream or work in a job that doesn’t feel like work, they share the same two qualities.  They are fearless and they never give up.   They had a vision for their life.  Then they chipped away at it bit by bit until they got to their destination.
My first dream was to be an actress.  I studied theatre at USC.  After graduation I gave up too quickly and found a practical job in business that led to another and another until ten years were gone.  Poof.  Vanished.  And I was 30.
Something someone said to me during an acting class in college haunted me during those 10 years.  During feedback about an exercise I’d done, a classmate said, “The way she puts words together makes me know she’s a writer.”  Like a lightening bolt from the heavens I knew his words were true.  I am, at my very core, a writer.
But I pushed it down, way down inside, so that I could bear the work I had to do in the business world.  Until one day the need to be who I am overcame my fear.  I began to seriously write in 2000.  I started with a play that won first prize in a local contest in 2001.  It’s not a Pulitzer winner.  It didn’t make it to Broadway.  But it was my first serious attempt and it won a prize.  That told me enough.  I was onto something.
My first novel went up on Amazon yesterday.  It hasn’t been easy - don’t get me wrong.  I’ve had a lot of rejection and feedback along the way that’s caused me to cry into my hands sitting on the bathroom floor so my daughters couldn’t see.  However, I have never given up.  And I won’t.  I will continue stringing words together to make sentences that tell a story until the day I die.  Because it is who I am.
Who are you?  I know you have a calling.  Each of you know what it is, if you’re honest with yourself.  Now is the time to recognize and seize that part of yourself that you know is there, that hidden gift that will get squelched with the realities of life if you are not careful.  It requires courage.  But I know you have what it takes.
What do you really want?  Write it down.  Map out the plan.  Put the pictures of your perfect life into your head.  Then go for it.
It is never too late.  I tell everyone that.  But most of those people are old like me, instead of at the beginning of adulthood like you.  Plan now to follow your calling.  There’s no need to waste 10 years or 20.
Do it.  Start now.  There is nothing holding you back except your own fears.  Take it from me.
Author Bio
Tess Hardwick is a writer, mother and dreamer.  Her first novel, “Riversong” (Booktrope) is available via Amazon and Barnes and  You can reach her at Follow her at twitter – @tesshardwick or her Facebook fan page at Tess Hardwick – Writer.

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