Conquering Fear and Taking Risks

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Seven months ago, my boyfriend asked me if I would be going for my doctorate degree. I laughed and said I was done with school. That was only seven months ago and I am already considering going back to school for that doctorate degree. I should have known. He can usually predict my future better than I can.

Maybe it’s because I am a young woman who looks like she is 18 but really I am closer to 30. There was a time in my graduate program where I was stressing out about the smallest things like the amount of comma splices in my paper. My friends thought I was going crazy over something so small, yet it meant passing or failing my final Master’s project.

When I went back into the workforce again after graduation, I began applying for all of the adjunct positions in the local colleges. My main goal is to become a professor at a college and do research within my field so I can have a better future….. This week I took a risk…. I said bye to my day job and am now staring to focus on a brighter future ahead of me. I knew what I wanted before, I just didn’t know if having a Master’s Degree alone would be good enough. Realistically, I told myself I need to put just as much work in as everyone else to get to where I want to be, if not more.

The one thing I am bad at are tests. I would rather write a 10 page paper than take a multiple choice test. That’s something I will have to complete and pass in order to get into a doctorate program. My friends all support me in my decision to keep going for what I want in life and don’t settle for anything less. I believe that it’s the fear deep down inside of me of failing is what is holding me back. In my boyfriend’s words, “You only fail if you don’t try.” The one thing I have learned in life is to never give up. Even when I wanted to work at Disneyland so badly, they kept rejecting my application. Third one was the charm and I finally got hired there. That was years ago and now that same philosophy still sticks with me to this day. To be honest, I am not sure if I am considered a millennial or in between those generations but I have heard from many of my elders that “those young people don’t know what hard work is, they think they can become a success over night.” I get it, many of us see someone become successful either through an invention, making music, writing a book, starting a business and so forth. All of that is not just handed to someone. Risks are taken, people fail and dust themselves off and try again. There was a test I took 3 times before I passed it and finally got the job I wanted.

Life is full of tests, choices- multiple choices, sometimes we have no options, other times we have endless options. If we know what we want and know what we are worth then we can make something of ourselves if we are smart about it.


Leaving the Nest, Gummy Vitamins, and Furniture Shopping

The past couple of months have been life-changing. After I graduated from graduate school, my boyfriend and I went looking for apartments in AZ, and I got a job in Scottsdale. Not only was it the conclusion on a 7 year long-distance relationship, but it was also a great new journey we were embarking on together. It was either move to Cali or move to Phoenix. We found that with cost of living and job opportunities as variables, Phoenix was the right choice.

Leaving the Nest was the biggest change of all. As an only child, I had to make that tough decision to finally be free from the nest. I didn’t have anyone to tell me what age or what time it was most appropriate to do so, I just did it….. after my boyfriend called me one day from work asking me if moving to Phoenix during the summer would be something I’d consider…. in the middle of the summer, (I also factored in the fact that we wouldn’t have to spend weeks to months without seeing each other anymore) so I said yes.

The moment I got my job offer and we knew what day to move, we got a Uhaul and I hugged my parents goodbye.

Then the road trip began. After about 5 and a half hours of driving across the desert, I learned some things….

  1. Water is your best friend.
  2. Never take gummy vitamins with you in a Uhaul… they melted into big blobs when I dug them out of the bin. My boyfriend, “Well, you can always take little bites of it until it’s all gone.”

One of the many obstacles we came across just happened to be the fact that the leasing office was not even prepared for us on move-in day. Yup, we arrived on time and ready to move in only to find out that, “oh, your unit is not at all ready to move into yet.” If you could be in that moment with us, I would describe my boyfriend’s look as, “shit, we need to get a room and find a storage unit,” whereas with me I was thinking something along the lines of, “you don’t know who you’re messing with, we signed the lease, it’s in writing, it’s 115 out and I want a damn shower, so do what you gotta do to make this right.” Seriously, I had never sweat so much in my entire life.

It took us several hours to move everything in only because the cleaning crew and maintenance guy were in here cleaning up the mess the last tenants left. The shower still had painters tape stuck on it, the balcony still had old cardboard and a broken light fixture on it, plus the dishwasher is crap and still doesn’t work. Fortunately, we were bale to get a discount on our rent for dealing with the craziness, but it makes me wonder if anyone else has gone through something like we did.

Furniture Shopping

His dad offered to get us furniture which was more than generous of him. We first went to Ashley Furniture to get some ideas. The only idea we got there was how damn expensive it is there to get a simple couch. We ended up getting all of our furniture (couch, table and chairs) at IKEA. I never knew you could spend 4 hours in that store but we did. It was a lot to take in, and we tried pretty much every couch that appealed to our eyes. In the end, my boyfriend finished building all of the furniture at midnight on Monday morning. The craziest part was that the AC in our apartment had stopped working due to a windstorm. It has been that way since but we luckily got to borrow a portable AC for the meantime.


Growing Up As An Only Child With Etch A Sketch


I came to the realization that I am making up for things I did not have as a kid. For instance, my parents never allowed me to have a dog or TV. They were the type of parents who did not want me glued to the TV all day or playing video games. In fact, I got my first TV when I was about 23. I am still working on getting my own dog (I plan to rescue one), but that will be soon.

Because I am an only child, many people automatically assume that I always got everything I wanted. Wrong. My parents taught me the value of a dollar and the value of hard work. However, as an adult, I am doing things and wanting things that I could not do as a kid. Many of those “things” involve going traveling with my friends, attending concerts, owning a TV and lots of music, and last but not least, getting a dog. Have you ever made up for something as an adult that you could not have as a kid? I am not saying my parents were “mean” to me, not at all. They were strict and raised me right. Unlike the majority of the newer generation out there, it seems many of the kids are glued to all of the technology easily accessible to them. Everywhere I go, I usually come across a toddler, not even walking yet, playing on a phone or tablet. The closest ting I had to that was an Etch A Sketch. Remember those? The classic red plastic frame with a white board and two knobs at the bottom to create your own sketch from your pure imagination. There was no touch screen or cute characters all over the screen singing songs. We used our imagination. A $20 Etch A Sketch has now been replaced with a $600 phone or $300 tablet. I cannot even imagine what my life would have been like had the iPhone been invented a decade earlier.

Society has evolved since the iPhone came out. I was raised to walk up straight with my head facing ahead so I could see what is in front of me at all times. Now, many people walk with their heads down looking at their phones and their children are mirroring their moves. As I said earlier, I did no get everything I wanted. Even when I wanted a smart phone I had to wait until I could afford one on my own. I begged my parents for one to be like my friends, but they just gave me a simple flip phone. Thinking about it, I am glad that they did that because I know the differences between what I want and what I need.

Even as an adult, I struggle with the things I want versus the things I need. I remind myself that my hard earned money should be spent on necessities to live on rather than something that will distract me from living my life to the fullest.  I know a dog is not a necessity to my parents. However, because I never got a dog as a kid, I am going to make up for it by rescuing one and making it part of my family. I do not know what type of dog it will be or where I will find him/her, but when the day comes, I will remember that I waited long for this day to come and I will be helping an animal in need of a home.

28 years and many struggles later

The following is a guest post written by Danny Knoblock. He was born with Spina Bifida and chose to share his life experience with us here.

This is the story of my experiences in hospitals the past 28 years. With the approximately 30+ surgeries and a ton IV pokes, blood works and medicine injections. The hospital is not the greatest place in the world but I’ve been there to live.

I’ve never liked hospitals, they usually end up with me having surgery. My experience starts off at the emergency room registration and then getting triage with a nurse. While the nurse asks me why I arrived and other questions which seem to be rhetorical because the answers are all on the computer. After the long dreadful questions, I get sent back to the lobby and wait till another nurse calls me into a room. While in the patient room I feel clustered because my wheelchair doesn’t fit in as much. I always go to the hospital with someone, it’s usually my mom since she knows my medical history quite well. My hospital experience began at birth and my first surgery was at 12 hours of birth to place a shunt in my head through my neck to my stomach; while in the hospital I had a stroke as an infant.

As a child, I never liked needles and injections.  That included IV when the nurse would tell me they would have to start an IV on me and I would freak out. During my childhood, I would go back and forth to the hospital because of the shunt breaking and causing me to have the worst headaches ever, and the only way to cure those headaches was to open me up and replace the shunt. During my time at the hospital as a child doctors would post “Latex Allergy” all over my room to inform others of my allergies but nurses and doctors never paid attention and still grabbed the latex gloves. While in the hospital, to pass the time I would request for video games and they would let me, my favorite game was “The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” or other video games. In the hospital my least favorite food was their green beans, on the other hand, I love requesting ginger ale or sprite to drink. Those were the things I do in my hospital room as a child.

When it came to going to have tests done, the hallways were always long and icy cold. I would shiver and cover up with at least two blankets. While in route I’d stay quiet and observe the halls until I got to the destination. When it came to having an X-ray done or an MRI I needed a soft padded pillow for my back because I have a bump on my lower back, and if I don’t have a soft pad my bump can open and have an open sore. After I arrive to my room from a test, a skin and wound specialist would be there waiting for me. I would feel weird, but the majority of the time I mostly had back problem was after surgery because of the hard table.

The most recent experiences in the hospital that involved surgery was a few years ago. They were both hernia related, but the first one included a gallbladder removed. I had a mesh that had a rough material which still today bothers me and causes me to have abdominal pain. During my stay in the hospital, there were was a rude nurse, whom I had not only asking for pain medication but I told her if I could I’d beg her for it, the nurse was rude and insulting me by calling me “a human science experiment” and she just left until her shift ended. The last surgery was a brief hernia repair. I went home the same day but was sore for a whole month. This time the mesh was made with a softer material.

This past month I was in the emergency room four times due to abdominal pain and they find anything wrong. The hospital here in Nogales, Arizona makes me feel like they think I’m faking or I just want attention even though I’m in constant pain.

Good Things Come To Those Who Wait

Although I have submitted my writing several times to various magazines, most of them have all, “taken careful consideration,” after so many weeks and months…. but still passed on me. I have heard that in order to finally get published you basically have to hear every type of rejection like, “eh, I didn’t care for it,” to finally get your foot in the door.

For the past month, I have been working non-stop on my Applied Project to get my Master’s Degree. I have to say, it was not easy. 36 pages of just pure writing. I wrote my own thoughts out about the graduate program. I learned something about myself though… staring at my screen trying to find all my grammatical errors was not working for me. After contemplating, I decided to print out the whole project, twice! The first time, I went through my paper carefully with a purple marker to cross things out and write in the margins. After fixing those errors, I printed it again (the second time) and went through it looking for all those pesky errors I didn’t catch the first time. To my surprise, there were still many lingering in there.

My paper became my enemy for a bit. I didn’t want to look at it or think about it. I thought about hiring an editor to go through it for me. Instead, I worked with about 8 tutors… wait make that 10 tutors for the very last round. Yup, and of course every tutor gave me a different opinion of what my sentences should say. Once I fixed something, another tutor said, no it should be the other way. Needless to say, I became frustrated and even got some major neck and shoulder tension during the last couple of weeks.

I don’t mean to sound so cliche, but I was only a couple of weeks away from completing my Master’s Degree…. I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. But, I felt like my feet were tracking along a treadmill rather than on the real ground making progress with all the hours my fingertips punched those keys on my Macbook. After getting outrageous quotes from editing services, I decided to go through my paper on my own because I wanted to know that I earned my degree without the help of an “expert.”

Now I have been waiting several days to hear back on my submission. The waiting game, ugh! As a society, we hate to wait for anything that is accessible with the touch of our fingertip to our phone screen. We hate waiting in line, especially when there is only one person at the counter to help a line wrapped around the building. Oh yes, I used to be that person behind the counter, and it is usually because of poor management and lack of preparedness. So, I won’t say which company(s) it was. I will just say, as a graduate student, a lot of hard work goes into the final paper. But, it’s the waiting period afterward that makes you shake in your boots! It’s like watching a file taking forever to upload, a little percentage at a time.

I am hoping by the time I am finished with this post that my final score will be posted *crosses fingers*. On a lighter and more exciting note (one that will relate closely to the title of this post, graduation is next week! *claps* I am more than excited and I will be traveling to Phoenix to enjoy all of the festivities, 4 to be exact. Oh, and I will be making a move there sometime during this summer. That is probably the best news of yet. I have decided that So Cal is just not working out for me, at least not in my favor. No matter what experience I have or how many degrees I will get, it will never be enough.

Plus, this also means more opportunities for me.

Well, until next time, I wish all the graduates the best of their future endeavors. Congratulations!

Writer’s Biggest Fear


Writing is subjective! In school, seeing our teacher’s red pen marks and small comments scribbled into the margins were used as the warm-up. The more practice we got, the less red marks we saw in our papers.

But, what happens when we are done with school and trying to make a name for ourselves as a writer?Whether you are a writer, blogger, or student, we can all agree that our greatest fear is our work being judged and rejected. When we are ready to submit our book proposal or short essay to an edior//literary agent/publisher, we trust on our own writing skills and hope it’s good enough for publication.

We wait days, weeks, even months to hear back from them. In a way, it’s kind of like waiting to hear back from a job interview- they make you wait days to weeks for a simple yes or no. Meanwhile, our anxiety levels kick in and we start checking our spam folder every day for and a sign of hope.

I recently took a poll via Twitter.

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I offered four of the possible fears writer’s face. We can hire someone to help us edit, and write down ideas on paper to prevent writer’s block or staring at a blank screen. Someone, even your friends or family will eventually read your work and after some time, others will come across your writing either by word of mouth or accidentally.

As you can see, 80% of participants voted that Being Judged/Rejected is the scariest part of writing. It’s the one part of the writing process that we have no control over. Not everyone will gain interest in our book or ideas we want to share with the world. Most agents may reject us for various reasons, which may not make any sense to us. A difference of opinion. However, there’s a reason why there is more than one literary agent out there.

As Literary Agent J. Johnson-Blalock stated, “Just saw two great deals for books I passed on, so when I say it’s subjective and another agent may feel differently, I mean it.” This quote gave me some confidence from within. Although I am completing my graduate degree in less than 30 days, I find it reassuring that literary agents like herself encourage us to keep trying.

I will leave you with one last quote I saw in a classroom the other day.

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” – Wayne Gretzky

Don’t give up!