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Rene Syler

TV Personality

New York, NY

You can rebuild, even after some rocky times — but you must accept that it will hurt, let your passion guide you, and surround yourself with others who support you.

I hung up the phone and stared at it for what seemed an eternity. Did I really just have that conversation? My TV agent had just pitched me, a middle-aged mom from the suburbs, to host a reality dance competition for young, urban kids.

A few years earlier, I’d been let go from my big job anchoring a network morning show. Two weeks after that, I underwent a preventive mastectomy because of family history. The one bright spot in my life at the time, the publication of my first book, was dimmed by an illness that landed me in the hospital and caused my over-processed hair to fall out. I was at the lowest point I had ever been in my life. Clinically depressed, it took a Herculean effort to get out of bed each morning and get my kids dressed and off to school.

I did a lot of waiting in those days; waiting for the phone to ring, waiting for people to wonder what happened to me, waiting for someone to save me. And hosting an urban dance show was not what I had in mind.

That’s when I had the thought that changed my life: “You have to save yourself.” I’d always had a publicist or agents; now I couldn’t afford one and the other couldn't be bothered to figure out I wasn’t the best fit for an urban dance show.

You gain the most when you have nothing to lose, when there is no place to go but up, and I was definitely there. So I got to work.

I decided to take my fledgling brand and go all out. I logged at least eight hours every single day. I took classes, made contacts, gave speeches and started a blog. Through it all, I kept writing.

Soon I was asked to write for other blogs and shortly after that, I began to earn money for my rantings — er, writings.

Has it been easy? Nope. I work harder now (and make less money) than I ever have. But the payoff is more than monetary. I am building something that no one can ever take away from me. Sure, I have good days and bad days, but on the whole, I look back and am proud of what I have built: me.

I share this because I want others to know what I did was not special; anyone can do it. You can rebuild, even after some rocky times — but you must accept that it will hurt, let your passion guide you, and surround yourself with others who support you. Most of all, understand that no one will believe in you as much as you believe in yourself.

And because of that, you will have to save yourself.

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