Hey, you! Yeah, I’m talkin’ to you. This right here is my third installment of Inner Geek, i.e. my special invitation for you to step into my rather geekified personal office. You see, I’m a literature loving word nerd and a sci-fi, fantasy, superhero geek. Hence, why our two previous office visits have been superhero and Sherlock related. But for this visit, I’d like to switch gears just a smidge and talk about one of the hardest life lessons on the planet: learning to love yourself.
It’s a crucial life lesson because it affects everything from our personal to business lives. As writers, it affects our material. From the depths of despair and the peaks of happiness come our inspiration for characters and plots. Don’t believe me? Here’s a fact: J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, created the Death Eaters as a means of channeling her bought with clinical depression.
As business owners, our ability to love ourselves affects our core values and productivity. It can impact everything from our brand’s voice to our business decisions.
As people, our ability to love ourselves affects our happiness, which in turn directly influences our relationships. People with a positive attitude tend to have better, longer lasting relationships.
There are ample reasons to be a self-lover, but here’s the rub: Learning to love you is hard! It’s hard because it’s so easy to be our own worst critic, but it’s more crucial than many of us realize. It can be the catalyst that turns us from every day average to extraordinary.
It’s All about Attitude
Were you ever that little kid whose parent told, “You need an attitude adjustment”? I was. I heard it a few million times. I’d inwardly scoff, thinking, They just don’t get me. And here I am, some 20 years later (yeah, I’m turning 30 this year, by the way), FINALLY understanding why my mom and dad said it so darn much.
Attitude influences everything, and it is likewise influenced by everything. The trick is realizing you have control of your attitude. You choose to be positive just as you choose to be negative. You choose to accept your flaws and eccentricities just as you choose to harp on them.
As Winston Churchill so perfect said, “Attitude is a little thing that makes a difference.” To a large degree, it will determine your ability to achieve your goals. As Thomas Jefferson said, “Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.”
How many superheroes, books, films, and television shows have illustrated this fact? I’d flood the Internet if I tried to list them all. Why are there so many? Because harnessing the right attitude is hard! It’s easy to need an attitude adjustment. It’s harder to make it.
Learning to Love You Makes a Difference
Were you here for the first Inner Geek? We talked about owning your crazy, eccentric madness and balking character flaws like Ironman. Then, we talked about being a little bad like Loki, embracing fear, and going a little villain for your goals. We even talked about how your career, brand, business, blog, or [insert your thing here] will succeed if you do the right things for the right reasons. It was a superhero-sized punch about being true to you (Pst! Click on the link to read it.). We concluded our first inner geek moment with this advice:
“Keep being you, no matter who you may be.”
As awesome as the response to this first inner geek moment was (I received comments and messages that truly made me blush and left me humbled by your awesomeness), I realized the need to backtrack just a little. Why? Because you’ll never be true to you if you don’t love you! Learning to love you makes all the difference in that hard-to-manage attitude adjustment and attaining your goals as a writer, small business owner, entrepreneur, or [insert your thing here].
A Lesson in Loving the Crazy
Remember my last blog? It was entitled, Should I Use a Pseudonym? I made the statement:
“Anita Lovett, that’s my pen name. And I love it, for reasons I’ll divulge later. So stay tuned!”
I just couldn’t sit on this for a millisecond longer. I’m not here to give you a paved path to success or the keys to the kingdom. I can’t. Your path and your keys are and will always be different from mine. I can, however, give you some useful advice; I can share my experience in a (hopefully) relatable fashion.
It’s taken me well over a decade to learn to love my crazy, and I’m still learning. There are still days when I walk myself outside for a lecture, chiding myself for having a bad attitude. But I’ve learned to love my particular spark of madness, and the more I embrace it, the further it carries me.
Why I Started with a Pseudonym
I chose my pen name years ago, but I didn’t put it completely into practice until 2010. You see, my life turned upside in August of 2009. Here’s the short version:
I had been working as an administrative assistant for umpteen years. I hated my job. It was at one of those places you dread to set foot in each day, but you have these things called bills, and a sense of this thing called responsibility that makes you do it each day.
I had also been chasing down freelance writing projects outside of work under my pseudonym, and I’d managed to build some substantial editorial experience. I was on the Indefinite Time Plan, which meant working 40+ hours a week, starting full-time college, holding down the fort with the soon-to-be hubby, and ever so slowly building a sort of business on the side. And then, life threw me a curve ball.
In an epic turn of events, three life-altering changes hit, one right after the other. First, the soon-to-be-hubby was laid off. Second, I quit my job thanks to life-altering change number three, which went something like this:
I was chatting with the girls at work, and somehow we started talking about oddities. I said something about not having the want or energy to cook and my poor fiancé was suffering with PB&J for dinners. All I did was go home, crack open a jar of dill pickles or banana peppers and collapse in front of the TV. The odd choice of food brought on a joking, “You’re not pregnant are you?”
Fast forward one week: I emerge from the bathroom, eyes bulging, and shove a pregnancy test in front of my fiancé’s face. The conversation went something like this:
Me: “Does that look like a plus sign to you?”
“Wow. Would you look at that…”
Me: “You don’t think I did it wrong, do you? Maybe I didn’t follow the directions correctly.”
“Sweetie, I don’t think you can screw up peeing on a stick…”
Me: “Oh. My. God.”
“That thing came with another test, right? Take the other one tomorrow and see what it says. If it’s positive, we’ll go see the doctor. Don’t start worrying until we’re at that point, okay?”
So I did. As it turns out, he was right; you can’t screw up peeing on a stick.
The doctor confirmed it. I was pregnant. After being told by I-lost-count-of-how-many doctors that I’d have a next to impossible time getting pregnant, there I was, beating the odds. And at the worst possible time! The other half was jobless, and the company I worked for was shoveling on stress and spraying insecticides like air freshener!
The third life-altering event came when soon-to-be-hubby said, “I want you to quit your job.” And that, dear reader, is the crazy set of circumstances that forever changed the course of my life, my career, and my every-freaking-thing.
I’m not too proud to admit, I went into freak out mode. I flunked my first two college classes simply because I didn’t go to class (there went my 4.0 GPA). I was curled up in bed, balling my eyes out, and convinced my life was over.
All my dreams were dead on arrival. I’d had my shot to fly, and I’d stupidly stayed grounded on an Indefinite Time Plan! I was a failure. I was doomed. I hated myself! And I needed one serious attitude adjustment.
Eight months later, an extremely pregnant me got that adjustment. You see, I didn’t have morning sickness. No, I had all day sickness. I had eight straight months of hugging the commode, vomiting like some drunken sailor minus any of the enjoyment from actually drinking!
I was miserable. Then one morning, I stopped. I guess my body realized I was weeks away from delivering a bouncing baby boy (who came early) and said, “Seriously! Stop! You’re going to need your energy.”
It was the day my son was the born, and the moment this incredibly small, gorgeous thing with the biggest, greyest eyes I had ever seen in my life looked up at me from my chest and just stared at me. The world stopped.
Everything vanished from sight and sound except for this amazing creature, and of all the things that flew through my mind from, Oh my god, I’m a mom… to I made this… somewhere this one thought gave me the biggest attitude adjustment of all time. The thought was simply this: I’m going to show you dreams come true.
A few weeks later, I made my first website using my pen name. It was a free WordPress site back then (anitalovett.wordpress.com) and today it’s what you see here from blog to services to portfolio. I chose to use my pseudonym for four reasons:
- It was easier to spell than my then last name.
- I liked it better than my real name.
- I’d already accumulated experience under it.
- I was terrified of screwing up.
At first, I hid behind my pen name. I was scared.
I was scared of screwing up, and it seemed easier to wipe away a pseudonym and start over than own a mistake under my own name. In the past five years, I’ve learned how to love myself and embraced most of my crazy.
I’m not going to lie; my almost-5-year-old sidekick has been an invaluable motivator for staying true to me. And he’s now joined by another minion, my just-turned-9-month-old son. I’m running a business as a stay-at-home mother of two. If my nearly 30 self were to tell my 20-something self I’d be here today, I’d fall over laughing.
The lesson I’ve learned is surprisingly simple. The thing that I thought would end my life was merely a beginning. I learned that fear can be like jet fuel if it’s used properly, and it can propel us forward in ways we never thought possible. In addition, attitude is everything. You just have to make that tough attitude adjustment and learn to love yourself.
Building Your Success by Loving Yourself
My pen name has become like a character over the years, particularly since 2010. It actually helps me when conducting business because it’s like an actor stepping into character. The real me stumbles over words and muddles my way through PR, but the Anita Lovett me grabs the bull by the horns with this confidence I’m secretly jealous of!
Yes, I’m crazy. And I love it! It’s me. It’s my madness, and I’m okay with it.
I can’t teach you how to love yourself. I’m sorry.
I wish I could hand you a lesson plan and say, “Go get it, tiger!” But it doesn’t work that way. What I can do is stress the importance of loving who you are.
It sounds cheesy, I know. But there isn’t another you on this planet, and there never will be again.
Success doesn’t make you; you make success. It’s your vision, and it’s only confined by your limits. So tell me, what awesome will you create and how much more amazing will it be when you do it loving yourself as you?