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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I’m just a girl from Lockport, NY

I’m once again feeling like that girl who blushed. And I think it all comes down to heading into something new. It’s about not having the experience that I want to already have. It’s about taking risk. It’s about the fear of not being good enough to succeed. This is a familiar feeling. I'm just a girl from Lockport, NY--a town of 21,165 people 20 miles east of Niagara Falls--so who am I to do something big?

I still think about my high school guidance counselor who told my parents that I should not be able to go to college in Boston because "she will never fit it." She encouraged me to apply to community college and some local four-year schools. She encouraged small-town goals. Fortunately my parents didn't listen to that guidance counselor. I went to college in Boston, and not only did I fit in, I graduated with honors.

When I was first out of college, that fear about being small-town didn't go away. I felt small-town as I interviewed for my first journalism job. But I was hired at CNET as an editorial assistant and quickly promoted to business reporter. When I left the comforts of my first real job, I wondered if I was too small-town to help launch’s west coast bureau. I was more than good enough. I broke news stories and wrote compelling pieces that made my employer proud. When I was transitioning from print journalism, my fear was about having years of experience doing the wrong kind of journalism. But I was hired at Bay Area Backroads and I helped produce several segments about this amazing part of the planet I get to live in. After taking time off to be home with my babies, it was about that gaping hole in my resume. I started to blog. Then I pitched and landed a cover story for Bay Area Parent Magazine. I was hired to be the official mom blogger for Oxygen Media. The same fears appeared as I applied for graduate schools, but I was accepted into each of the MFA programs I applied for.

In the words of Stuart Smalley: “I'm good enough. I'm smart enough. And doggone it, people like me.” Or in the words of soon-to-be-famous-best-selling-author Suzanne Galante (you’ve probably heard of her): Each time that nagging fear of being too small-town to (insert desired goal here), I tried anyway. And I succeeded. Building a writer’s platform won’t be any different. Falling back on being from a small town is a crutch, a way to give myself an out. I need to stop doing that. It doesn't matter where I came from. What matters is where I'm going.

Plus, there are a handful of famous (and infamous) people who have also had modest beginnings from my hometown: including Joyce Carol Oats (best-selling author), Kim Alexis (supermodel), and more recently Chris Sacca (venture investor), whose parents’ law firm used to be just around the corner from my mom’s house.

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