My friends, family and boyfriend all say that I’m a writer. Even when introducing me to new people, they sometimes introduce me as a writer. Of course, I take it as a wonderful compliment, but in my head, I’m shouting, “No, no, I’m not really a writer!” Why do I feel like I’m not a “real” writer, though? Is it because I don’t get paid to write? Because I’m not a well-known writer? Because no one has pointed me out in public as the girl who writes? For me, all of these are reasons that I don’t see myself as a real creator. But why? Why should money and fame be the deciding factors for my validity as a creator and a writer?
In my opinion, American society and culture are to blame. We put so much emphasis on success, but we never truly define success. The only real understanding we have of success comes from what we see in the media: celebrities, wealth and people of power. Money equals success. Fame equals success. Money and fame are our validation, our proof that we’re successful. So what happens when we do what makes us happy even if we don’t get paid for it? What happens when we pour our hearts and souls into what we love and don’t expect anything in return? What happens when our only form of payment is a thank-you from one of our readers?
In all honesty, happiness should equal success. I mean, sure, we all need money to survive, but does survival equal success? On a basic level, yes, but there’s so much more to life than surviving. Success doesn’t just come from making it through another day. (That’s not to say that you shouldn’t be proud of that.) Success comes from whatever we decide it comes from! For me, being able to share my thoughts with the world in an attempt to help others makes me happy, and as long as I'm able to keep doing what makes me happy, I'll always see myself as successful. While I do feel lost or stuck at times, I'm always lifted up by the supportive people in my life. If I'm lucky, a Facebook friend or Instagram follower will thank me for the things that I create and offer to the world. Those times are the best because they let me know that what I'm doing is making a difference. Even if I'm only able to reach and help a few people, that's enough for me to feel validated and successful.
Even though I don't get paid to write, I'm still successful. I may be an unpaid creator, but I love what I do. Doing something for free doesn't mean that it isn't valid, it just means that that thing is more important than any amount of money.