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I Am A Success, Even If I’ve Thought Otherwise

To the outside world, I look like a complete flake.

If you aren’t privy to my inner demons dialogue, if you don’t sit on the floor with me and cry about things, if you haven’t been there when I have screamed in stress, then I look like a complete flake. (And it also means you are very lucky.)

I haven’t had the same job for more than a year and a half since I left a job at PBS.  I have struggled and switched and moved and rebranded and refocused more times than should be allowed for one person.

I have seemingly flitted from one job to the next, never stopping long enough to really make a difference.
Or so it seems.

I Am A Success, Even If I've Thought Otherwise

Let me be clear: I am not apologizing for this.

There are a few reasons why I have flitted so much, and I feel like I have finally come to rest.

Foremost, I am always striving for The Best Life I can have.  Always.  Which means that trial and error happens.  It doesn’t mean that I am never happy.  Mind you, some people search for perfection and will always be miserable.  Perfection isn’t possible.  But I am trying to live the right way and always the best way.

As part of this, I am trying to find a way to actually be paid for my talents and my passions.  A rare, haughty, lofty goal?  You betcha.

Again, I am not apologizing.

Sure, I need to bring in money, and watch our household budget, and still not spend money on childcare, so on and so forth.  But I know where I want to be: I already bared my soul on that.  I know what I want life and, therefore, what I want my career to look like.  My zigzagging career after career trajectory has given me the really deep, philosophical yet slapped with real life decisions I needed to get here.  It has required one crazy misstep at a time.

Secondly, motherhood is hard, you guys.   Again, hardly new information here, but it also means I am not apologizing.  While being a mom I have struggled with staying home after being a power-player in an industry I loved.  I learned just how little time and energy I have at the end of every day.  I learned that I really, really love my husband and I need energy for him, too.  I have been forced to confront the fact that deciding to stay at home had certain ramifications.  But I also discovered that deep down in my soul I need something other than “my babies” to keep me healthy.

So that all means that I struggle to find the right fit.  I have tried a lot of things in an attempt to find the job that would let me primarily be the caretaker to my kids while also helping our household income.  Of course, also while leaving my cup more full than empty at the end of the day.

Third, life just changes.  Opportunities unfurl in front of you and you have to be willing to take advantage of them, not so tied to your great plan that you can’t leap.  So I ended up leaping a lot.  No regrets.

I am not apologizing.

I have learned so much over the past few years, trying to mold the life I want and the life that is healthiest for my family.  So here I am.  I finally feel settled.  I am still searching and growing, but I don’t feel unsatisfied anymore.

I cried the other day, but this time it wasn’t out of crazy stress from jobs that demanded I be in a spot I physically could not.  This time it was out of gratitude that I have learned so much.  I cried because I finally know what I want to be when I grow up and I am nearly there.

Thus, I have stopped trying to bludgeon life into accepting my successful-ness.  I have stopped trying to be the best and the greatest and an industry wunderkind and a hard-hitting reporter and a million-dollar-making writer.

I have stopped trying to force my life into being all about the resume.
It’s been tough.  Chalk it up to my personality, the “kill at school to get into a better school/job” dope I smoked, the American dream of always being better and bigger… I have always been striving to be the best at what I do in all things I do.

I won’t say I am not still striving.  But I will say that, finally, I have rested.

I actually feel like I have some balance – but I think that comes from doing what I love.  I love that I have time for my kids while also getting paid, on my terms, for something I believe in and know I can do.

I will always have a ridiculous To-Do List.  I am ever an achiever.  That is who I am.  It is what caused all my crazy career field mess to begin with.

I am not apologizing for that, either.

In fact, I am saying that I love who I  am.  I love every faulty step I took and new career I tried.  I loved that I was foolish enough to believe whole-heartedly that I could be a full-time freelancer while staying home with 2 kids under 5 … over the SUMMER.  I adore that I had that much crazy self-confidence.

And I am proud that I learned to stop and smack myself before this house became crazier than a 3-ring circus.

The biggest thing I have learned through this wild journey (that, of course, still isn’t really over) is to have patience.

I hate that word.
Patience.

I know I need to let opportunities and life come to me.  Yes, yes, hard work makes you.  Amy Poehler, Sheryl Sandberg, etc., didn’t become famous in what they wanted to be by waiting for opportunities.

But I have recognized the fact that I need to work hard at the opportunities that are presented, crush at those, then wait for more relevant opportunities to be birthed out of them.  What I don’t need to do is run around working hard on things just because I decided on one morning’s jog, way over-caffeinated, that I should be doing some random thing (whatever it is).

I need to sit back, recognize that I will most likely live another decade plus some more and will have plenty of time to have life open up to me.  Or, if I don’t get that extra decade, I want to be proud of how I lived it.

As I sat, looking out at the ocean the other night, it hit me that I never remember times spent at my computer trying to up my Facebook-likes.  It isn’t as though I realize they aren’t important days and I downplay them, I really don’t even remember them.  What was I wearing? What was the weather? Did I have a good cup of coffee?  Nothing is there.

What I do remember are essays I wrote that I am proud of and geocaching with my kids and lazy afternoon naps with my son snuggled up against me.

I am not waxing poetic about unicorns and time spent looking at clouds with my kids right now (although those are all nice things, too, especially unicorn-shaped clouds).  But I am sharing something deep inside that wants out: my triumphs and achievements are honed in and crystal clear now because of how many turns I took.

I have learned to be still and complete in knowing what I want.  I am not allowing myself to get distracted anymore by what I think I should be doing or who has a badass resume that I want.

I want to live the best life.

Allison Barrett Carter

Allison Carter is a mom chronicling the highs & lows at Go Dansker Mom (http://godanskermom.com). She gives blog consultations, is a content strategist and writer for companies, and founded the NC Blogger Network (http://ncbloggernetwork.com). She has been freelancing as a personal essayist since the end of 2013. Her pieces have appeared on numerous web publications as well as in 3 print anthologies (with 2 more to be released) and numerous local print outlets. Instagram: allisonbarrettc

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