Worth…less

Is there a cure for low self-esteem? More carrots? A smoothie? Sunlight? Chocolate cake?

For too many years, I pursued a career designed to make me feel worth… less. Not worthless, but worth less than others in the same job title doing similar job functions. But I continued down that same path year after year, determined to prove to someone – anyone – that I wasn’t as worthless as my salary indicated.

In so many careers, the higher the level of cerebral tasks, the higher the numbers on the left side of the decimal point on the paycheck. Proving a person’s competence and motivation through bonuses and raises allowed employees to build their confidence and compete for promotions within their chosen field of employment.

So why not my career? How did I get stuck in what many construe as a dead-end job, making barely enough?

Ah… The plight of the starving artist! The undiscovered author! The roaming musician!

Cultural and performing arts drains a person’s creativity daily. Artists are always processing the world around them. They use their brains nonstop, and one author friend I know even plots her novels in the shower!

It takes little effort to say you want to write a book, but it takes brass balls (yeah, I went there) to actually write the damn thing, revise, revise, revise, bleed your soul onto the page, and then ask a stranger to take time to read your words in the hopes that your story – what you have to say – will somehow connect with that stranger on some level enough so that the person reading your novel ends without thinking it was a complete waste of time.

So… This is my response to the inquiries I receive through my book coaching company and my literary agency: How much self-esteem do you have? How much are you worth? How much is your story worth? How many times can you get up after you’ve been knocked – bulldozed – down?

And are you ready to be rejected? Because, trust me, this book-writing thing can cause more anxiety than asking someone on a first date or cooking in front of a room full of hungry panthers.

So why have I pursued this career designed to make me feel worth less?

Enter the five-star review. The word-of-mouth recommendation. The actual buying of the book. The emails from fans – one and then ten and then hundreds – who say my female characters, with their strong drive and independence, show them different angles and unique perspectives to relationships, careers, and situations.

Here’s my lesson learned:

I might not ever land that $100 million three-book deal, but just because I don’t, doesn’t mean I’m worth less than those who do.

Quote I saw on Instagram:

“I go out of my way to make others feel special because I know what it’s like to feel worthless.”

So buy the book, pay for the song, and show the world that art is worth it.

xox ~ Risa

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About Marisa Cleveland

writer. reader. infinite dreamer.
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