Decisions That Shaped My Life and Made Me a Better Person and Stronger Writer
The decisions we make in life are important because they determine our future.
I learned this early on, not because anyone told me or because I read it in a book, but because I noticed how each decision I made led me in a new direction, even minor decisions.
Understand Who Is in Control of Your Life
Back when I was 17 years old, my parents decided that I should travel to Argentina to get to know “my country” and my family. The only country I’d ever known was the United States. My parents were living in New York at the time of my conception and my mom flew back to Argentina to give birth, then came back to America where I was raised from the age of 4 months. I’d never lived in Argentina, didn’t grow up there, and didn’t know any of my relatives. This was a nightmare for the spoiled teenager I was at the time.
While I was there, I had to enroll in school. I spoke Spanish, but I didn’t read or write it. And since I hadn’t attended classes from the beginning of their school year, I was set to fail every class except English. My only hope was to take final written and oral exams for each subject covering the material for the entire year, even things I had missed.
I was angry, frustrated, homesick, and miserable. But I decided I could shrug my shoulders and fail every class and feel sorry for myself, or I could work super hard and “show them” that I could do this. I decided I was not going to fail. A handful of amazing girls from my class, helped me study and cram for weeks. When the time came for the finals, I passed every class and moved on to twelfth grade.
This was a decision that shaped my future. I learned that I was in control of my destiny and that only I could choose to fail or succeed.
When I returned to the U.S. I was a different kid. I wasn’t a spoiled teenager anymore. When I started college, I had a different mindset and goals because I had matured.
If Someone Else Can Do It, So Can You
Another decision I made in my early 20s was the I was going to become a writer and I wasn’t going to let anything stop me.
I mentioned in a blog post, a couple of days ago, that I took a few courses that set me on my way to becoming published, but that wasn’t the decision that changed the course of my life. My husband purchased the courses for me, so I went. I didn’t make decision to buy the courses, and I probably wouldn’t have.
It was a few years later when I attended a writing workshop, listening to a best-selling author talk about how difficult publishing was. Authors struggled to get to the midlist, then midlist authors never made much money and were not supported by the publishers. Even getting published was almost impossible; less than 3% of those trying would ever get published. This author went on and on like this.
I sat at the table, doodling on a pad of paper that I would have used to take notes if she had said anything worthwhile, and the only thing going through my head was: you did it, why can’t I?
I decided that the naysayers were roadblocks to keep others from succeeding. And I decided that I would be part of that 3% if it really was that low.
It’s super important in life not to listen to others who tell you that you can’t do something. Maybe they can’t do it, but that doesn’t mean you can’t. The world is full of writers who had no chance of getting published until one day, they did.
Build a World Larger Than Yourself
The next decision that changed the course of my life was when I decided to adopt my two children.
I won’t go into huge detail here, but those of you who decided to have or adopt children know that they turn your world upside down. Suddenly, you are responsible for the life of another human being.
This decision to open my life and my heart and become a mother helped me to grow from a person who was driven to succeed and achieve personal goals to one who was here to serve others.
I often wonder where my writing career would be today if I hadn’t put huge breaks on my career to raise my kids.
Then I think of where my children would be if I hadn’t chosen to adopt.
Sometimes, you have to decide to build a world larger than yourself.
Create Your Own Path
The most recent decision I made was to stop working with traditional publishers to revive my long ago created publishing house and to self-publish, and to help other authors publish their own books by sharing anything and everything I know.
This is a scary decision into the unknown world of doing everything myself. The risk of failure is more severe because of the financial investments I will have to make, but I believe the rewards will be greater as well.
I don’t know where this decision will lead me, but if my previous decisions are anything to go by, I believe I will end up somewhere spectacular, having grown again and become a better person.
These were decisions that shaped my life and my career as a writer. I learned that I’m in control of my life and whether I succeed or fail. I learned not to let others determine what I’m capable of achieving. I learned that personal success is not as important as being there for others who need you. And I’m learning now, to take risks and create my own path in the publishing world because the path I was on was not leading anywhere. Knowing when something isn’t working and being brave enough to make a change is I lesson I’m ready to learn and explore.
What decisions have shaped your life? And how can theyhelp you become a stronger writer?
Have a story to tell? Want to learn how to record personal experiences before they’re lost or write a novel? Let started by downloading for free Julia Amante’s “Free Your Story” framework.