Progress Report: The “If I Can Do It, You Can Too” Speech

It is with barely repressed *squee* ing that I am thrilled to announce that I’ve been hired on as the new Assistant Editor for Brazen Life!

As you may know, I already do bi-monthly posts for Brazen, but now I’ll be getting my hands into the behind-the-scenes stuff:  editing posts, contacting media affiliates, moderating comments, coordinating FB and Twitter updates.  It’s an awesome opportunity to take on a bigger role at a big-time blog—and, equally awesome, it means I am *this* much closer to being able to negotiate a permanent part-time schedule at the day job!

The next bend in the road is in sight.  Until that bend, I will be hustling my pretty little panda tail off, as this new position adds 10 hours a week to my already-packed side hustle schedule.  But it will so (so) be worth it once the scale finally tips and this can become my main hustle, with the day job becoming (I grin like a fool as I type this) “the side job.”

I am giving myself a 3 week trial run.

If I can manage to balance the day job as-is plus this new responsibility (using an impressive mix of hustle and impeccable time management), then I will keep my 4-day-a-week schedule at the day job so I can sensibly build up a little savings fund for when I make the part-time leap.

If I can’t—if I find myself getting spread too thin and not giving my side hustle the attention it deserves—then I will make the leap in three weeks, trusting in Providence and a universe that has so far taken very good care of me to make sure that the extra time devoted to my side hustle will bring me new opportunities to help the scale tip even further.

As it is, this new position can pretty much cover the difference if I made the leap right now.  But I owe it to the husband to be as logical about the decision as I can.  He’s supportively along for the ride on this mad journey of mine, but he deserves me to handle it as conservatively as I can since this is both our lives I’m experimenting with.

 Where I Came From vs. Where I’ve Come To

I like to take stock when I hit mileposts like this, and my phone call with the Brazen editor I’ll be working under made me take very black and white stock of just how far I’ve come since making the decision to go for my dreams and starting this blog.  She was impressed, and I have to admit (if it’s possible to do so unbraggingly) that I kinda was, too.  I’ve come a hell of a long way from the girl who thought she’d squandered her chance at everything she’d ever wanted out of life.

So I thought I’d share with you, in brief bullet points, where a little moxie and hustle has gotten me.  It’s a tad longish, but I think easy to digest, and I’d love it if you followed it from beginning to end.  Because (I will say it, even though it’s clichéd), I believe that it’s proof that if I can get this far, you can, too.  Seriously.  Just look at my de-evolution, and the contrast to how things are now:

High School Cordelia

  • Had a long career of writing, then assistant editing, then editor-in-chiefing for my high school paper.
  • Launched an underground paper with my revolutionary-minded friends when the faculty supervisors refused to let us publish what we wanted to in the school paper.  Never let on that I was behind the underground paper.  Don’t think anyone from the official staff knows to this day.
  • Devotedly participated in creative writing club, writing oodles and oodles of emo poetry, in addition to the fiction and copious journal entries I also kept up during this period.  (It just came out.  I couldn’t stop it.)
  • Dropped out of AP English midway through senior year to take a semester’s poetry class by the creative writing club leader we all worshipped like O Captain My Captain.
  • Was begged by AP English teacher and guidance counselor to continue following the rest of the class by meeting with the teacher on my lunch breaks.  Did so.  Kicked AP English’s tail.
  • Kicked the tail of about half a dozen other AP classes.
  • Got a perfect score on the verbal section of the SAT’s.
  • Graduated in the top 11 (10 was this close!) of my class.
  • Got a three-quarters scholarship to study English in college.  (And religious studies, because religion interested me, so why the hell not do a dual major?  You know, just for the fun of it.)
  • Believed with everything in me that I was destined to be a writer.  It was a given.  There was no question.

College Cordelia

  • Made barely no friends.  Became a recluse for all intents and purposes.
  • Skipped classes like a punk, but somehow still managed to turn in two senior honors theses and graduate summa cum laude. (I’m too much of an OCD perfectionist to allow myself to flunk out, so I mustered up the strength for that much, but that was all I had in me.)
  • Did nothing else beyond making it to class regularly enough to not break the attendance policy.  No clubs.  No internships.  No writing except for some pretty nasty manic-depressive journal entries I prefer not to look back at.
  • Graduated with no plans for my future, no resume of having done anything over the past 4 years with my education to advance my career goals, and a pretty sad little picture of Sarah Lawrence cut out from a grad school packet I’d requested, then tossed knowing there wasn’t a snowball’s shot in hell of my ever making it in.
  • Went to work full-time for the law firm I’d been clerking for during school.  Because there was nothing else I could see to do.

Post-College, Way-Things-Are Cordelia

  • Kicked myself every day for letting such a seemingly promising potential fizzle away into the same shitty 9-5 drone life I’d always sworn vehemently I would NEVER allow myself to live.
  • Rented a depressing basement apartment that I came home to every night to fall promptly asleep in front of the TV because it was the only way to not think about what I hadn’t done with my life.
  • Stuck the Sarah Lawrence picture up on my sad little fridge in my tiny little kitchen—I must imagine as a masochistic way to punish myself, because it certainly didn’t inspire me.
  • Met an amazing boy, got married—the one bright spot of this awful period.
  • Accumulated a shit-ton of debt, making the 9-5 feel even more inescapable because it was the only job that paid well enough to keep my head above water.
  • Decided all those promising signs that I was destined to be a writer were bullshit.  I had no real talent—or at least I certainly didn’t have it in me to ever bring that talent out.  I was a fraud.  I was a joke.  I was just like everyone else who throws away their childish dreams to trudge through a life that saps their soul.
  • Began to consider running my car off the thruway when I drove in to work in the mornings.  Never did it, but the impulses were strong enough to scare me shitless.
  • Decided something—everything—needed to change immediately.  Because I couldn’t allow myself to consider the “or else.”

Cordelia of Fall 2010-Present

  • Started this blog.  Learned as I went along.  Acted from day one like I knew what I was doing and had an audience of hundreds instead of just my husband and my mom.
  • Wrote like something would come of this.  Halfway dreamed it would, halfway was positive it wouldn’t.
  • Was picked as a WordPress “Freshly Pressed” blog (out of 450,000 current WP blogs) two times within my first month of blogging.  Started to think I was onto something.
  • Networked even though I had no reason to believe I was worthy of connecting with “real” bloggers.  Made some pretty cool friends.  Started getting offers to guest post.
  • Guest posted all over the place.  Got onto some “best of” lists.  Traffic to the blog slowly but steadily grew.
  • Was asked to guest post for Brazen.  First post got a ton of awesome feedback.  Was shortly offered a regular contributor position.
  • Continued the 9-5, but became more and more frustrated with it as this secret parallel life of mine started to take off.  Contemplated making a little leap.
  • Took a what-the-hell chance and put up a Hire Me page, the same day my new BFF J. Money happened to post a lovely line in his blog telling people to check me out.  A certain busy PR exec saw his post, checked out my new Hire Me page, and shortly thereafter became my very first freelance client.  (The universe responds when you put yourself out there.  Call me hippy-dippy-trippy if you will, I believe this with all my being.)
  • Became a regular contributor to Lifehack and several other blogs.
  • Realized where my passion was at and honed my offerings down to blogging specifically.
  • Got the Brazen editorial position.  (Three weeks away from another leap?!)
  • Currently working on applications for two other regular paid blogging positions.
  • Taking the goddess Ash Ambirge’s copywriting course in the dreams of scoring one of her coveted new copywriting subcontractor positions, which would tip the scales so far they’d smash into a dozen glorious pieces.  This is a far shot, I know, but why the hell shouldn’t I secretly hope for it?  If you’d told me in Fall 2010 that this much would have happened in a year and a half, I would have promptly fainted dead away like a frail Victorian heroine.  There are days I just feel overwhelmed and exhausted, when the day job/side hustle demands are too much and I think I’m insane for trying all this, but then I remember this point.  And I keep moving.

The Speechy Bit

  • It is never too late to start over.
  • You never have to accept setbacks.  They are not permanent or irrevocable unless you tell yourself they are.
  • If you believe you have the potential to do something, you owe it to yourself to pursue it.
  • Never underestimate the power of perseverance, hard work, a healthy dose of unrealistic optimism, and a vicious refusal to let your life slip into mundanity.
  • If I could bring my sorry ass to this point in a year and a half, then you can do whatever-it-is-you-secretly-wish-you-could-try-doing, too.  I had nothing left of my dream after college except regret.  I had no platform, no credentials, no reason for anyone (myself included) to ever believe I could “be a writer” like I used to assume was a given.  And here I am now.  Three weeks away from another milestone in a series of milestones.

Mic, dropped.


Image: Flickr

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  • Stephanie at Visible and Real

    First, HUGE congratulations! This is super exciting.
    Second, as a new reader, and someone in a very similar boat… thank you for the encouragement.

    • Thanks, Stephanie! Glad to have you on board and along for the journey–it’s gonna be an interesting one. 🙂

  • You are awesome, Miss Cordelia/Kelly. 😉 And I totally had an underground newspaper in high school too! Hah… I must be well on my way. Congrats on the new gig!!!

    • Thanks, Sarah!

      The hilarious thing was that both I and the head of photography for the school paper were involved, and I wound up having to collaborate with my assistant editor (of the official paper) to write an op ed piece condemning the underground one! Needless to say, I let her take the lead on writing that and just offered some vague feedback. 😀

      • hahaha! Mine was the result of our journalism teacher saying, “The school paper sucks and is boring. You don’t want to write for that. Start your own.” He was awesome.

  • Joseph D Rodriguez

    Great post Cordelia. This gives me a burst of encouragement.

    • I’m so glad! I know it was a long one, but I really wanted to detail how far I’ve come to show that you really can do whatever you determine with a vengeance to do. 🙂

  • Congrats!!! After our tweets back and forth last week I decided to throw myself out there and send queries to some local publications about submitting freelance articles to them! DREAMS- We be making them happen!

    • Damn straight, girl! Go us!!

      • By which I mean: Go you especially! Way to take the plunge! 🙂

  • Life [Comma] Etc

    ahhh super congrats! you + Brazen = even better (If possible, because Alexis is awesome!). Just wowee wow wow 🙂

    • You’re right; Alexis is pretty awesome. We shall be a dynamic duo! 🙂

      Super excited to be a part of the behind-the-scenes crew!

  • Alexis Grant

    Psyched to work with you! And love the lessons you draw from this.

    • Same here! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by the blog!

  • Hellz yea girlfriend!

  • Believe it yourself, homegirl! 😛 Because it’s true for you, too.

  • Melissa

    Whoot! GO YOU! *shakes pom-poms* Seriously, this is awesome, and I’m psyched for you! 🙂

    • Thanks, Melissa! I appreciate the pom-poms. 😀

  • Karen J

    and WayTaGo, Lady! :))

    • Thank you much! I’m super-excited.


  • I feel like they need to designate a session or course for future college grads to prepare you for that “life after college may just suck” reality. I’ve definitely been where you were a few years ago. I thought my sudden path change was seen as failure to everyone else, rather than I was doing something I loved to do. Then one day I decided to be more optimistic of exploring my love of writing through blogging. I’m so grateful for you starting this blog! It gave me hope that my random life path towards my goals totally makes sense. Congrats on your new job, I wish you the best of luck!!!

    • Aw, thanks, Keisha! I’m so glad I can help. I know a lot of people are going through similar struggles, and if sharing my journey can help, I find that freakin’ awesome.

      Good for you for going in the direction for your interests as well! Can’t wait to feature your Reader Quit. 🙂

  • Congratulations!!!!!! Woohoo! I’m so happy for you!

    • Thanks, Cara! You’ve been one of my own “If they can do it, I can too” inspirations. 🙂

  • Congrats on the new gig! Your bullet point story is so inspiring. I look back on my college experience with smiles…not because I grabbed any career dreams by the balls, but because college was fun (perhaps not the best use of student loans, but anyway…). I wish I’d known then what I wanted to do with my life. Hell, I wish I knew that now!

    • You’ll find it. I can attest to the fact that sometimes it finds you a little late, but it’s worth it when it does. 🙂

  • Tracy Schwartz

    Congratulations!!!!! This is an awesome post and so inspirational. You are a true rockstar!

    • Aww, thanks, Tracy! YOU are a rockstar too, you know. We all are.

  • Rachael

    Wow! I’ve just fallen in love with both you and Ashley Ambirge. You made my day, and I haven’t even had coffee yet. Is it weird that I keep getting crushes on bloggers?

    • Aww, thank you! I have blog crushes on so many people (the veritable Ash Amribe being foremost on the list). Glad to have you on board!

  • Asha T’nae

    Amazingly inspirational! I am literally devouring your blog, and gaining much-needed momentum. Kudos to you chica…doing that damn thing, and doing it oh-so-well!!! One less soul fueling the engine of strife makes the whole world more beautiful!!!

    • And your awesome comment makes this blog more beautiful! I can sense a kindred spirit when I see one. 🙂

  • Sasha

    As an aspiring blogger/journalist (really still a wannabe at this phase) in this CRAZY, technological world we live in, THANK YOU for the encouragement to just keep going with it, even when you’re not really quite sure how it’s all going to turn out 🙂 Now to just go start a blog…….