1. the willingness to take bold risks.
This week, I entered a writing contest. Not just any writing contest… a travel writing contest. Why is this earth-shattering news? Because it’s something I’ve never done. More importantly, it’s something that I never thought I could do. In the case of this particular contest, whether or not I should enter was also an issue.
Every year, World Nomads holds a contest for aspiring travel writers. Contestants are to write a short, travel-centered piece on one of three provided topics. Three lucky souls will be selected to win a Travel Writing Scholarship comprised of a two-week travel writing excursion in a chosen corner of the earth and an intensive writing workshop with a well-known, widely published, and/or award-winning travel writer. Each year, the trip is in a new place. This year, it’s “The Balkans” (specifically Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia). The first three to four days are spent in the “workshop” and being mentored by the professional. The remainder of the trip, you are on your own. Ten (or so) days solo to roam and write. Majority expenses paid.
My inner 25-year-old throws up the “rock-on” sign while nodding and screaming “HELL YEAH!” with a Gene Simmons face.
My outer 44-year-old furs her wrinkled brow, peers judgmentally over her spectacles and says “You must be out of your rabbit-ass mind” while pushing a lock of gray-streaked hair behind her ear.
(sigh) Here we go again…
While the 25-year old and the 44-year old were duking it out over whether or not I am really trying to give a major boost to my writing career and by extension my credibility as a real travel writer or if I’m just a delusional old woman trying to, yet again, escape her reality… another “voice” weighed in. It was my Soul.
“Screw those heffas,” she says.
“Enter the contest. For no other reason than just to enter, understand?”
I understood perfectly.
See… Normally, I would look at an opportunity like this and think “You are nuts! How dare you have the audacity to even think you could come up with something clever enough to win a contest! Thousands of entries from around the world and they would pick you? Seriously?” Clearly it would seem I was siding with my outer 44-year old… but the inner 25-year old slightly weighs in on this too.
While my inner 25-year old is excited about the travel opportunity, she not at all confident in her writing skills or experience. She’s barely been anywhere so how can she possible write something interesting enough… credible enough to win such a prestigious prize? My outer 44-year old, rooted (albeit cemented) in reality is lobbing a long list of responsibilities that are sure to be shirked at my head like rotten tomatoes at a bad comedian. It is “the guilt trip” all over again. And she, too, occasionally second-guesses the worthiness of her writing… a little more often than she cares to admit.
And this is why my Soul told me to enter this contest… for no other reason than just to enter.
So, I did.
I submitted a modified version of my Costa Rica story. If anything I was thrilled to actually have a REAL travel story to use. I was feeling like a real travel writer already!
At the end of the application there was a question… one that often stops me in my tracks. A question that has left many requests for proposals, job applications, and writing pitches unfinished because answering it summons dark clouds of fear and a torrential downpour of self-doubt.
“Why Should We Choose You?”
As the 25-year old and the 44-year old shrink away to their respective cowardly corners, my Soul cried out…
YOU HAVE THE AUDACITY!
TELL THEM WHY THEY SHOULD CHOOSE YOU!
In that moment, it hit me. I started to feel that there was something more to this. A bigger purpose to entering (and possibly winning). So, I wrote this…
I am a freelance creative writer. I am also a minivan-driving, multitasking mom-of-two on a budget tighter than size small Spanx who wants to… needs to have my own version of “eat pray love.” I don’t get many chances to see beyond the circumstances of my life. I missed the chance when I was younger. I took for granted that time in my twenties when I had a corporate salary and expense account that had me trekking from city to city for work. I never stopped and marveled at anything. I let my life belong to other people before I got to know myself. Now, that’s all I want to do.
I’ve spent the last four years writing in my journals about wanting to have “experiences.” Travel, food, love, life… and writing about it… one adventure after another… and sharing it with everyone. Especially women like me who think that they can’t or don’t deserve to do something awesome for themselves. In late 2016, I allowed myself to take a solo trip (as in sans kids) to Costa Rica. It was the beginning of everything. I just want to keep it going.
Why should you choose me? Because I believe I bring a unique perspective (and demographic) to the “travel writing” table alone not to mention a trip like this. I’ve never known of anyone like me or with my lifestyle who would have the courage to do something this audacious. I want to be an inspiration.
I pressed submit and have never been more proud of myself! Well, except for the time I did those zip lines in Costa Rica. (I know, I know… I owe you the story!)
Of course, ultimately, the object is to win… but for me, it’s having the audacity to believe I can. To have the confidence in myself and my writing and know that I am just as deserving as anyone else for the chance… regardless of age, experience, or circumstance. Win or lose, I gave myself permission to try.