Riding Bitch

The daily musings of a writer.

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Congratulations, (25 Signs That) You’re “Grown”

Serious question. How do you know when you’ve grown up? And what does that even mean – to be “grown”? We’re always growing and maturing… what I’m talking about is that point in your life when you start feeling like a grown up. I’ve been thinking about this lately because my birthday is tomorrow, and I always get a little introspective around this time of year. This year in particular, I feel different. I feel as if something has gelled within me, something has clicked on a deep level. And it dawned on me, that this sensation is possibly what it feels like to be grown.

I imagine everyone has their own barometer, but for me, being grown is not about how old you are, how much money you make, if you own or rent, your career status, your marital status, or whether you’re a parent or not. It’s about reaching a certain level of self-awareness and coping ability. It’s about how well you take care of yourself and manage your life, including your emotional health. And it’s about confidence – not the loud boastful *confidence* of youth, but the quiet confidence of maturity.

Being grown doesn’t mean you’ve stopped evolving – in fact, it’s the opposite. It’s about wanting and actively trying to learn and grow, recognizing that you in fact do not know everything. And being okay with that, not feeling as if you’re less than or not enough.

I associate youth with a lot of positive things, but also with a fair amount of insecurity, self-doubt, self-sabotage, and self-criticism. When you’re grown, it’s not that you don’t have these feelings – but you’re better at controlling them and not letting them get the better of you. Being able to control your feelings is probably one of the most difficult things to do. I’m still not great at it, but I’m way better than I used to be.

Immaturity also feeds on drama, whereas maturity does not. This is why maturity has little to do with age, because there are plenty of adults who feed on drama, i.e. make a big deal and worry about everything, constantly feel like victims, and never actually use the advice they’re always seeking, or do much of anything to fix their problems.

Over the summer, I started a list of things that I thought make a person “grown” – with the caveat that “I can decide later which ones count.” This is what I came up with:

You’re grown when…

  1. You start making and rescheduling your own doctor appointments.
  2. You’re on top of your bills and finances and running a tight ship independently.
  3. You’re disciplined with your time, diet, spending, and/or routine.
  4. You’re able to cope day-to-day and maintain a relatively content life without complaining all the time.
  5. You plan ahead and make strategic decisions.
  6. You stop making decisions based on what other people think.
  7. You can acknowledge your mistakes and/or weaknesses, take responsibility for your actions, apologize for mistakes, not berate yourself for your weaknesses, and work towards shoring up those weaknesses.
  8. You stop taking things personally and can assess what’s really going on.
  9. You know what you need vs. what you want.
  10. You can remain calm (or at least the appearance of calm) in a crisis.
  11. You know when to ask for help, who to ask, and how to ask.
  12. You start asking for what you want.
  13. You can keep a secret (as in, keep things close to the vest until the appropriate time).
  14. You can read people fairly quickly and know how to deal with them without confrontation.
  15. You can recognize what triggers you and soothe yourself when you are triggered.
  16. You set deadlines for yourself and stick to them (same with boundaries).
  17. You stop beating yourself up about everything.
  18. You stop feeling jealous of others or, rather, channel any hint of jealousy into action.
  19. You know how to listen.
  20. You can say No to things, or certain people, and not feel guilty about it.
  21. You know how much your time is worth and act accordingly.
  22. You know what friendship means and stop treating everything as a transaction.
  23. You stop holding grudges and either accept people for who they are, or gently let them go.
  24. You stop making excuses.
  25. You can receive advice, or feedback, gracefully (and gratefully) and not get defensive.

I could keep going… but I’d love to hear your thoughts.

What do you think makes a person grown?


20 Reasons to Love Your Day Job

On the heels of my last post about not complaining, here is a fresh perspective on why you should love your day job, from the obvious to the not so obvious. (Okay, so “love” might be too strong a word.)

1. Regular Pay Check – Even if it’s not enough to live on, it’s probably more than unemployment pays.

2. Benefits – Along with #1, this is the reason most of us stay: paid sick days, paid vacation days, healthcare, 401K, etc.

3. Paid Jury Duty – Technically, part of #2 but I feel like it’s such a perk it deserves recognition. I recently got a jury summons and asked HR how many days (if any) would be covered. My company pays TEN days of Jury Duty. Granted, if I get chosen and the trial lasts for months, this will only cover two weeks, but that’s better than nothing!

4. Taxes – Sounds odd, but (if taxes are necessary) I actually appreciate that one third of my paycheck is taken out for me. Left to my own devices, I’m not sure I’d have the willpower to put that much aside.

5. Free Air Conditioning and Heat – I live in Los Angeles and it’s freakin’ hot here (this morning 87 degrees Farenheit at 8:30am).  Better to sit in the cool air conditioning at work and not rack up my own electric bill.

6. Free Food – Someone’s always leaving something in the kitchen or conference room. Last week some execs left the conference room early and we assistants descended on the sandwich trays like a pack of hyenas. This morning there was a banana on the kitchen table (snagged it!). The other day there was an entire bag of Clementines (delicious!).  I try to ignore the cakes, pretzels, caramel-covered popcorn, chocolates, bagels and other treats people leave.

7. Lifetime Supply of Girl Scout Cookies – If that’s your thing.

8. Free Condiments – Salt, pepper, sugar, fake sugar, oil & vinegar, ketchup, mustard, relish. Let’s not forget the free toothpicks.

9. Free Tea, Coffee and Filtered Water – Free water, people! Bring your jugs to work.

10. Free Stationary – Do you know how much paper costs? Me neither.

11. Free Office Supplies, Fax Machine, Scanner & Copier – The less said about this the better.

12. Free Toilet Paper – Okay, I’ll stop with the free stuff (but it does add up).

13.  Mailing Address That Isn’t Your Home – Definitely has its advantages.

14. Phone Number That Isn’t Your Home or Cell Phone – Also has its advantages, especially if you have caller ID.

 15. Free Internet Access – Not that you should be on the internet at work, but just in case you need to do some research… you know, for your boss.

16. Structure to Your Day – Let’s be honest, if you didn’t have a day job, would you get out of bed at the same hour, take a shower and dress up every day? Actually, I do know a journalist who wears a suit when he works from home, but that’s because he might have to rush out for an interview. Personally, I find the structure helpful. Sometimes it feels like cattle punching in, but at least I know where I need to be and when.

17. Personal Interaction – In this digital era, it’s nice to actually see real people every day. Plus, in my experience our co-workers are often super supportive of our creative pursuits. When one of us actually breaks free, everyone celebrates.

18. Holiday Party – The one day a year when we’re allowed to drink and dance at work. Yay! (More of these would be nice.)

19. Time Away From Spouses, Homes, Children & Pets – We all love our families and homes, but isn’t it nice to get away from them for several hours? I know I get a lot more done when I’m not with my dog, next to a refrigerator, couch, bed or television. In an ideal world (when I no longer need a day job), I would still work in an office away from home.

20. Motivation – Having a day job might be feel soul-sucking, but that just gives you even more reason to pursue whatever does fulfill your soul. If your job makes you angry, use that to motivate yourself the hell out of there!

And as a bonus:

21. A Day Job Provides Stability So That You Can Take Risks – You might be stressed at work, but you’d be even more stressed if you were unable to pay your bills. As this Forbes.com article says, the best time to look for a new job or opportunity is when you have a job :  “… You can take your time and if a great opportunity comes up you can take it if you want or you can wait for the next one.” You’re in control.

Do you have a day job? 

What are some other aspects that you appreciate?




25 Ways to Earn Your Audience (Industry Friday Series #4)

Happy Industry Friday!

Today I wanted to share with you some advice that was originally presented by a successful novelist/screenwriter/game designer and blogger at the writer’s conference I attended last month. His name was Chuck Wendig and this is his awesome website! www.terribleminds.com

25 Ways to Earn Your Audience:

  1. It’s all about STORY. No matter what you’re writing about, good content rules the day.
  2. ABW – Always Be Writing. Think of the world as a one big pond and your writing as creating “ripples” – the more you write, the more “ripples” you make.
  3. Diversity is good. Book, blog, Twitter, Facebook, film etc. – multiple roads that dead end at YOU.
  4. Sharing is caring. Give and promote others with enthusiasm.
  5. Value at reality. Don’t be afraid to put something out there for free or cheap (especially in the beginning of your career).
  6. Build a sandbox. Another way of looking at #3 is you are building a creative sandbox where you and others can play.
  7. Don’t close the door. Opportunities to connect, share, learn and/or collaborate are good.
  8. Be the best version of you. You are the hub and you are human (not a brand) so be authentic.
  9. Social Media = a Worldwide Water Cooler. It’s where people go to share stories and ideas.
  10. Screw the numbers. It’s not about how many people “follow” you or how many “friends” you have. It’s about content. (See #1)
  11. Don’t be a dick. It’s okay to disagree but don’t be mean. Negativity breeds negativity.
  12. Be a fountain, not a drain. Talk about what you love, not what you hate.
  13. You can and should have opinions. They create rapport and connection with others.
  14. Be passionate. Passion connects us to readers and each other.
  15. Don’t forget about Real Life. Go to book signings, conferences, etc. Meet people in person.
  16. Share knowledge, share data, always be open and honest.
  17. Ask for help when you need it. Be prepared to help others when you’re asked.
  18. Reward your audience – free books, swag, etc.
  19. Embrace feedback and don’t respond to negative reviews.
  20. Be generous with your audience – answer questions, give interviews, etc.
  21. Share the world with other authors and share others authors with the world.
  22. Practice your presentation.
  23. Don’t be something that you’re not. Being clumsy and inauthentic will not help you.
  24. Take your time and be patient.
  25. Have FUN!

Remember: For every story there is a listener and for every author there is an audience.

Happy creating!