Monday, June 20, 2016

What Success Looks Like // do what you want

You know those people who seem to have it all together all of the time? The ones who know exactly where they are going and every step they need to get there?

Yeah, I'm not one of those people either.

It's kind of weird though because even if I don't know what I ought to do with my life, other people think they know. Apparently, their lives are so good, they've taken up planning other people's? Since they know the secrets to the universe, let's what they have to say:

I ought to be a school teacher.
(Ah haha. No. If only 'the system' was an entity I could strangle.)

I ought to find my true love and live happily ever after.
(Seriously? Do I look like a Disney Princess?)

I ought to stay home, wait for my true love to find me, then live happily ever after in my family's backyard.
(Rapunzel much?)

Some people sincerely believe they know your success ought to look like. They look you in the eye and say such and such is you're calling. 


While they predicting your supposed future, you gape at them and think, "Do I know you? Because you obviously don't know me."

It's a little frustrating. It's easy to let other people define our success for us. Marriage. A stable/steady job. A permanent house. Etc. Etc. It sounds safe. Realistic. Highly probable. Smart. And if anything, they do seem to know what they're talking. Who doesn't want stability? Who doesn't want job security?

So here are the problems:

1)  Life is unpredictable. Stability is an illusion.

You'll go places you never thought of, do things you never dreamed of, if you keep yourself open to it. People seem to think they have to do one thing with their life, for their whole lives. That is their idea of success (which is fine).

One of my favorite examples of a full life is my clogging instructor. She was in a rock band, acted in film and theater, videoed for film and theater, taught music at a school, wrote books and songs, and of course taught clogging. She also moved from New Zealand to the US. She did a lot of things in different areas throughout her lifetime.

So don't feel like you have to box yourself in to doing one thing your whole life. If that's what you want to do, excellent. But don't believe the common lie that it's the only way to live. One day life might throw you a curve ball and you'll find yourself somewhere very different than you would've thought when you were twelve. 


2) Success looks different for everyone.

As mentioned before, some people view job security as success. For some people, it's driving a mobile library around the countryside. Some don't even view success as a career decision, maybe it's volunteering, maybe it's raising a family, owning their own private library, etc and so forth.

You define your success. Find out what you want to do. You can give other people's thoughts consideration, but ultimately it's up to you. After all, you're the one who must take the steps necessary to live it out

And don't let others' opinions hold you back. It's really easy to do that. Shooting for the stars is much more risky and precarious than staying down on earth.

(Guys! That's my photo! And my edit. Let me grin and stare. . . Okay, carry on.)

Writing, my friends, is not exactly the most stable job. Some will think you're famous and rich, or going to be. Others think you'll be taking orders at the local McDonald' by next month.

So here's the thing. I talk about how I do what I want. That's because last year I realized I was letting people's opinions limit me. A lot of people don't think I can do things on my own. When people are with me, I'll let them do all the talking. I let them lead. I let them make the decisions, and if they make stupid decisions I don't follow them and wait around until they figure out what a dumb idea they had.

But people don't see me when I'm alone (obviously). They don't realize that I am braver alone. They don't see me go out alone. Talk to people alone. Drive long distances alone. Talk on the phone. Make my own decisions, yeah, even stupid ones.

Alice in Wonderland

The only limits you and I have are the limits we put on ourselves. The box we make ourselves fit into. If it wasn't for that, the world would be open to us.

So, yes, I talk about how I do what I want. It's half joking sass, half Loki reference, and all reminding myself not to let other people's opinions drag me down.

Not that I'm saying you should blow off advice. Seriously, consider advice from the right people. Advice is good. Give it a think. Basically, you have to know you.

You have to define your success. Not somebody else. Go out and make life your own. It's hard and it's scary, even if you are going for that stability that everyone wants. It's still scary. But YOU GOT THIS!


 From my Christian stand point, (glad to hear you wanted to hear that), God has this. God defines me. He knows my past, my present, and my future. He is the only one with adequate knowledge to define me. As long as I go where He's leading me, I will be in a stable place. Life is turbulent, but God is my stability. He is the rock I stand on. His opinion is the only one that matters and it's the only opinion that will be true.

 So here's what my 'success' looks like.


1)  I want to be a freelance editor specifically geared toward indie authors. That might sound weird, and I can and probably will edit for people who are not looking to be independent authors. That's cool. But indie authors need editors. Indie authors are out there going it alone. Their stories are good, yet they need editing help. (They also need to either realize they need editing help or be motivated to spend money on editing help, but post for another day). 

I want to be that editing help. I love editing and helping other people with their stories. I always see so much potential like a hidden diamond. I love helping people dig it up, polish it, and set it so it shines for everyone to see. I enjoy it almost as much as I do writing my own work.

for the Success and Writing post You've Got Mail:

2) I want to be an indie author. Yes, it does scare me. I'm not a business person. I have no idea how to market. Anything that has to do with finances, paperwork, and tedious administrative work bores me to death.

But being independently published got stuck in my head a couple years back. Learning how to do it myself. Collaborating with awesome designers for cover art. Having an editor look at my work for mistakes and suggestions (yes, I need someone else's professional help too; I'm not an idiot). I've envisioned it for so long I can't see myself doing it differently. The indie book industry has a bad rep for poorly written books. I want to change that both with my own writing and with helping others authors. I want to provide excellent books and give indie authors a good name.

 success and writing  'You've Got Mail'.:

Also, independently publishing will be more satisfying for me personally. I'll be more pleased with myself if I can be heavily involved in the creation of my novel.

True, I know I will probably need to get part time jobs and such, here and there. I'm not a Disney princess, remember? I'm realistic about this.

The Mentalist

In conclusion, I have no conclusion. So here's a Loki and Thor from pinterest, because you know. . . *smirks*

loki and thor playing video games:

What does YOUR success look like? What do you want to do? Do you have any strange stories of what people expect you to do with your future?


  1. I adore everything about this post, Ashley you beautiful, awesome person you. *Bear Hug*

    I just got a part time job, and was feeling a little down, but this made me feel better.

    That picture is AMAZING! Gansey and Blue would both approve of the color.

    I think you would make a great editor. I can say that with all certainty because you edited my story and did one heck of a job!

    1. I'm sorry the job didn't go very well for you. :(

      Haha! Thank you! It was a lot of fun. And I really like that quote.

      Thank you so much! That is so encouraging! *bear hugs back* This comment made my day. :)

  2. Great great post! I can't agree more with finding your stability in Christ. That's always been a huge comfort to me.

    I really love how you said that success looks different to everybody. Sometimes we get stuck on creating lives that are stable, but boring. I just think it was a really insightful thing of you to mention.

    1. It really is! He never changes and He never gives up on us.

      Thank you!

  3. I looooove this post and I relate so much omg. I never really knew what I was going to do when I finished school and had a ton of "helpful" (ahhaha NOT) advice like "oh you should be a teacher Cait!". This is me. Who doesn't like or talk to people eeeever. *cries* Sometimes it's actually really depressing when people give wildly inaccurate "life advice" because it feels like they don't know you at all. Or else they don't think your future is very important? Ooooor I'm being too dramatic.😂 But that IS how I feel!

    AND OMG I LOVE YOUR LIFE GOALS AND I WISH YOU ALL THE BEST IN THEM. I do think indie publishing has a bad rap, and it's sad. Because there are epic books out there. I can't wait till I can buy one of your books someday, Ashley. :')

    1. YES! It does make you feel like they don't actually now you. And you just feel worse. I don't think it's dramatic (unless we're both being dramatic. . .)

      Thank you so much! I know. Indie publishing makes me so sad. There are some excellent books out there, you just have to sift through all the poorly written ones. Ah! Thank you so much! I can't wait to read your books too!

  4. Ahhhh I love this post! Everything how other people must have their lives so figured out that they've taken to planning ours is so accurate. I'm so tired of people acting like that. And I agree with Cait that sometimes the "advice" people give just makes it clear that they don't know you at all. But anyway...

    I love that you want to edit specifically for indie authors and to be an indie author. If I do ever write a book, I also want to self publish because I want to be in control and be able to make the final decisions about things. And I read mostly indie and self-pub books, so clearly I love them! But you sound like you've got a really realistic view of things, so I'm sure you'll do an awesome job of accomplishing your goals :-)

    1. People are very much about other people's busy, are they not? It's rather ridiculous.

      Exactly! *nods* Indie publishing is more work, but I think the pay off is good. Thank you so much!

  5. I love your dream. Your dream sounds like one of my dreams, except that I'd be too scared to ever try it. You shouldn't be though. You've planned it all out, and you're interested, and so you should do it! I love posts like these about how you don't have any limits, even though I, as a person, have unlimited limits. It's like I've chosen to take only the most 'stable' path, and that leaves me literally two job options. It's all so complicated and sometimes I wish I could just be like your clogging instructor.

    The Life of Little Me

    1. Thank you so much! And there is nothing wrong with the "stable" path if that's what you want to do! It's different for everyone. :) Thanks for stopping by!

  6. I relate to this post so much that it scares me. Everyone always says 'oh, you'll be fine. You should do such-and-such' or something to that effect, and while they're saying this I'm just thinking to myself, 'I don't want to DO any of that, actually; I just want to be happy'. Your dream sounds fantastic, and you should follow it to the very end. Or don't. Because at the end of the day, only you know what you really want.

    1. Haha! I know. People have no idea sometimes how much worse it makes you feel to hear all their suggestions. It's rather annoying. Thank you!

  7. Great great post Ashley!! I know exactly how you feel. When I tell people I'm going to be an English major in college, they immediatley think I want to be a teacher! Let's prove them wrong. :D

    You're photo looks sooo good. <3 I haven't started the series yet and I really, really need to.

    By the way, I nominated you for the Infinity Dreams Award here on my blog!!

    1. Ugh! Yes! I am so tired of hear the teacher answer. Let's! ;)

      Thank you! It's a really good series. :)

      Thank you! I'll definitely check it out.

  8. I think that's beyond cool that you want to be an editor for indie authors!

    I also find that I am braver and more daring when I am by myself. I stand up for myself more and am more inclined to do things that challenge me.


    I love you lots, seriously, THIS POST, MAN.

    I think this is something we've both been figuring out recently. You with not letting your parents/family/town wrap you up and tie you down; you with taking the amazing decision to go to uni! And me last year with deciding Yes & Forever I Will Be A Writer, and more recently the whole gap year thing, not settling for a uni I don't want.

    The world wants us to be sausage meat. You get made in school, slapped into the sausage machine at uni and you come out a neat little cylindrical sausage ready to work and get married.


    But I don't want to be a sausage.

    I love love love that you want to change the perceptions of indie authors and be an indie editor. (That made me especially excited because guess who finished TCATT.4 on Tuesday?!!! It's currently with my BFF irl because it has some v confusing bits and a plot hole near the end that's more of a plot ravine, and I have 10 Whole People whom I've said can read it, so I don't want to release it into the wild before she's read it at least. BUT YOU ARE MY #2. I COULD NOT POSSIBLY BE MORE EXCITED FOR YOU TO READ IT. Is it OK for me to just email it to you within the next couple of weeks?)

    Also, the teacher comment. THAT GOT ME IN MY SOUL. Apparently, my two job prospects are English teaching and journalism. Haha, haha, haha, one sec while I stAB YOU IN THE FACE.

    Anyway, AMAZING POST. Love love love xx

    1. Thank you so much! That makes my day.

      Funny thing, this post was originally something I'd jotted down two years ago about how I was going to do the writing thing with my life. (Kind of like your post, I guess?) Since I'm stepping forward from college to uni, I figured maybe I should publish that post. But, eh, it completely changed into some kind of motivation thing? Or something.

      Exactly! There is nothing wrong with having a stable job or getting married or both. It's just that people don't realize that's not the only thing there is. That the "ideal life" is not for everyone or at least not for everyone immediately. And they think anyone who goes against the grain is going to. . . end up a failure. *cues dramatic music*

      Yeah, I don't want to be a sausage either. Too many preservatives. So unhealthy.


      AAAAHHHH! CONGRATS SO MUCH! *composes self* That's so exciting! I totally understand. I love those irl people who will agonize over the necessity of a comma with you. Do you keep it? Do you omit? Why in the world are there so many comma rules anyhow!? *cough* That was mildly off topic. BUT YES! You can email it to me whenever you're ready. And just let me know what kind of beta/edit you're looking for. Just a general kind of scope? Plot? Characters? Dialogue? Down to nitty-gritty punctuation? Or just the general, overall look? I'm so excited to read it! :D

      Ah, yes. The awful teacher refrain. If I ever hear it again. . .

      Thank you!

    2. Huh, that's cool! So it started out being something you wrote for yourself, to say, yes, Ashley, I SHALL WRITE LIKE A BEAUTIFUL WRITING UNICORN (good image, Emily. Thanks, Emily), but two years later you are so confirmed in your dreams you're able to motivate the rest of us. (Like an indie author who helps other indie authors ... eh??)

      (I do like sausages. And some say you are what you eat-- shut up, brain!)

      THANK YOUUUU! I've already told you this story once today (in reply to your comment on Written Life), but she is reading it and she texted me today saying "Freddie is a bae" and I NEARLY DIED!!!! I'll be getting it to you v soon I think :D :D <333

    3. I do prefer writing dragon, but unicorns are cool too. ;) Something like that I suppose?

      (I like sausages too. I just don't wish to be one. XD)


  10. I LOVE THIS POST. Honestly, it's amazing. That's so awesome that you've decided to become and indie editor/author and that you have realistic goals and dreams and you're pumped to go do it and make it happen. You follow your dream and make it happen and YOU'RE JUST GOING TO BE AWESOME, OK? And that's so amazing that you've found your stability in Christ, because at the end of the day that's all that matters because He'll be the one to see you through to the end, every time.

    I always feel slightly bad when I read these kind of posts (even though I know I shouldn't but my brain is stupid) because I want the stability that comes along with a solid job. I suppose it's because I'm addicted to traveling and it's a little difficult to travel on just a writer's paycheque, and I've also seen women who've had husbands leave or die or whatever and they can't actually take care of themselves and their families. And while I'm not sure what my future is going to be (I'm not even sure I want to get married or have kids or whatever), I don't want that to ever be me. I want to be able to take care of myself, and having a stable job includes that. So I'm sadly on the more cowardly side of the fence here, which is why it's so amazing that you've decided to go for it. Thank you so much for an awesome post!

    1. Thank you so much! I'm glad you liked it! Yes. Jesus is definitely the one who is going to get me through this. He always does. :)

      No, don't feel bad. There is nothing wrong with having a solid job. If that's what you want and that's for you, THEN GO FOR IT! Especially with the traveling. That would be so much fun. maybe you can find a job that would require you to travel? Gah, yes! Getting married and such is so scary. I've seen a lot women who've ended up as single moms also. It's a hard place to be. I don't know how they do it and I hope that never happens too. But if a solid job is what you want, if that is your success, then claim it! Like I said, success looks different for everyone. Go for it! :)


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