I graduated from college in the fall of 2001, three months after the rest of my class, because I spent most of my senior year recovering from depression and a serious eating disorder. I’d studied acting and writing, and I planned to devote my life to one of those career paths; but the process of dealing with my physical and emotional issues distracted me and shook my confidence.
I felt paralyzed from even trying to act or write, since those fields are so competitive. After a decade of struggle, I just wanted things to be easy, but ironically, trying to find an easy road made everything in my life hard. I spent years moving around and trying out jobs to see what might feel right, but I never felt like I belonged in a place or a role. My main source of fulfillment came from blogging about my challenges and lessons on a private page that only a few friends could see.
One day at work, I got into a silly fight with a friend over the meaning of the word. We debated back and forth, with her final argument being that she knew the right answer—she was a professional writer, after all. When I pointed out I was also a writer, she dismissed me, saying that writing a personal blog didn’t count. At the moment, I couldn’t have felt more hurt or angry, but it stirred something inside of me. It made me realize I was a writer, and it was time to do something about it.
I responded to a Craigslist ad and got my first freelance job, writing articles for a ‘tween magazine. This meant the world to me, given that my personal struggles had started in adolescence. I then leveraged that job to start a career in online content management, but still, something wasn’t right. Even though I was writing daily, and climbing the ladder with responsibilities and pay, I rarely had the opportunity to write about things I really cared about, outside my freelance gig. That’s when I realized I wanted to explore the personal issues that I’d previously tackled in my blog, but without hiding in fear of being seen. And I wanted to create a space where others could do the same. This way, we’d all know that we are never alone in what we’re going through, and we’d give each other strength to move past it.
It has been almost four years since I started tinybuddha.com. More than one million people come for daily wisdom, and hundreds of members have shared their stories and insights. It’s an engaged community of men and women who share themselves openly and authentically. I am honored and grateful to finally be in a place where I belong.
After years of holding myself back, here is what I’ve learned: You may never feel certain that you have it all figured out. You may never know exactly what you need to do, or exactly where you’re going. But if you are willing to start taking tiny steps, and keep going, the dots will connect over time to create something beautiful and fulfilling. You just have to stop telling yourself who you’re not and start living the story of who can be.