I wasn't an abused child by any stretch of the imagination, but it has always been so much easier to believe the teachers or coaches who said I wasn't quite good enough or those Mean Girls who lived to make other people's life he!!. Self-esteem is a funny thing, and yet even in the midst of the not-good-enoughs I was still doing my own thing. Still kind of oblivious, thanks to the love and support of a core group of people. At 16 I got a job at a local radio station, by 18 I had my own show on Sunday mornings and that led me to be a news director and then a television reporter and now a freelance writer and aspiring romance novelist.
I think the key is surrounding yourself with people who believe in you. Not 'Yes People' because they can do more damage than good. People who will shoot straight with you, who encourage you to do more, be more, who listen when you're down and help build you back up when something isn't quite right. I've been lucky to have several people like that in my life. People who will make the Thank You list when I sell that first book: my mom, who doesn't like all the sex in my books but still encourages me to go for my dreams. My first writing teacher, who is still a professor at my university. My friends Jen and D'Ann, who are always around to talk or vent or hold my hand. My CPs, who push me to go farther and do more with my writing. My husband who, every day, says this is the day I'm going to sell...The list goes on.
It is still easier to believe the bad stuff -- that the rejections I receive mean I'm horrible, that a crit group that has broken up is my fault or that I didn't get That Job because I haven't got a clue about anything. And yet I still have my moments: I placed first in my category in a contest at Savvy Authors this summer and got some amazing feedback -- the kind that leaves you flying high for weeks. I've had 3 full manuscripts requested this year (that's a record for me) and only 1 rejection...and even that rejection was good, encouraging and left me feeling good about my chosen profession. Along the way, my support group has held my hand, told me I could do better and basically pushed me to go for it. That is the validation that counts with me. The contests are great, but the people who believe in me make it easier to believe the good stuff and stuff the bad back in the closet.