Every now and then – between reviewing the latest country album, juggling Twitter accounts, “researching” for a fashion blog post, writing/receiving press releases, sending/getting pitches and contemplating (responsibly) investing in a Chanel 2.55 bag - I stop and think of what my 15-year-old self would have thought about all of this.
Fifteen, on a rural mountain road without Internet access. (My parents just got high speed access last week. True story.) Fifteen, and a trip to the Old Navy 45 minutes away was a big, big deal. Fifteen, and I’d dated one guy of any real importance. (He’s still around, happily. Some things you can’t outrun.)
Fast forward one decade later. I turn 25 at the end of this month, which makes this question all the more interesting: How did you make yourself?
By the time my grandmother was a quarter century old, she had two children, a house she’d built while my grandfather was away in WWII and a loom in the garage that turned out rugs to sell at the local curb market. That’s her right there. I picked the photo because we’re right around the same age, both wearing red lipstick and embracing the trials and tribulations of curly hair – just 50 years or so in between us.
Right now, the only house I’ve worked to build is my career in writing/social media/public relations. The only marathon I’ve ran are the late night deadlines I cram together. But I’ve been lucky enough to know – just know – that I’d somehow make a living with words. With that one goal in mind, here are a few of the things I’ve done to make myself:
- Make yourself try it – Before I started writing for the web’s top independent country music site, I’d only appreciated music from a fan’s perspective. Before I started freelancing as a fashion writer for my local alt weekly and blogging about local designers and boutiques, I’d only read approximately 6,980 issues of Vogue. I’m helping people and companies better relate to their customers with social media, and I didn’t even know what Twitter was three years ago. That saying Jack of all trades, master of none? Forget it for now. The beauty of the Internet is the power it gives you to become an authority of anything from running shoes to eyeliner techniques to pet rescues. Or all of those at once.
- Make yourself available – Don’t say no. I know all of the women’s magazines tell us not to extend ourselves too far, but I’ve used the first half of my twenties doing, going and doing some more. I interned every single semester and summer of college, at a wide variety of places. An art museum. My college’s public affairs division. A ballet company. The State Fair. After graduating, I had grand visions of working nine to five and calling it a day. Lame. Take on every freelance project, blog contribution, photography assignment and graphic design class you can handle. It’ll start things rolling, whether you see it at first or not.
- Make yourself known – Put together a website. Start a blog. Tweet it out. I don’t know anything about CSS either – but I do know that you can be your own best publicist.
- Make yourself remember this – Rosanne Cash said it best: “Just show up, just do it. Even if you feel like shit and you think you’re terrible and you’ll never get better and it will never go anywhere, just show up and do it. And, eventually, something happens.”
That’s the story so far: Wear the red lipstick. Embrace the curly hair. Just show up and do it. And, eventually, something happens.