Forging My Own Path and Giving Myself the Power of Permission


Last year I realized I can give myself permission to forge my own path. 

I have spent my whole life wanting others to give me permission to follow my dreams of becoming a writer and making a living doing it. I have needed my dream to be acknowledged as a serious endeavor and not just a whimsical child’s dream.

As a child, the main person I wanted permission from was my dad. A practical and business-savvy man, he often cautioned that writing was, well, impractical. Insecure at best. How would writing pay the bills? Take care of student loans? Contribute to a family’s income? These were valid questions. And truthfully, I owe a great debt to my dad for posing them to me so that I never lost sight of the importance of financial planning and security. He taught me good business-sense which has been invaluable.

girl, child on adult's shoulders

It was crushing to feel that he didn’t want me to follow this dream because, beyond worrying about my wallet, he didn’t think it was worthy of my attention. Or that my dream of writing was frivolous and unrespectable. Or, worse, I wasn’t a good enough writer to make it a lucrative career.

Writing is such an innate part of me, so attached to my self-worth and sense of my own capability, that not having it taken seriously as a passion – and dare I say, a calling – meant that I felt as though I was not worthy of being taken seriously. I felt like my dream and my person was a joke.

I perceived my dad didn’t think I could become a writer, and what I internalized became my reality. I carried around this opinion as well as the idea that someone else – someone important to me and clearly successful (like my dad) – had to give me permission to follow my own path.  

Being stubborn and also unable to shake the “writing itch,” I kept one leg, one hand, one eye, and half my brain on the path to writing. Half my soul belonged to that dream. I dreamed all the way to college where I chose creative writing as one of my majors. I dreamed my way out of my parents’ house, and now had the room to choose my own path and make my own way.

It wasn’t that simple though. That half of me that was constantly on the writing path didn’t suddenly become whole just because I was in college and out of my childhood home.

Instead, that half constantly looked for someone else who might finally say to me, “Go for it with all your heart,” and grant me permission to follow my own path. And the other half of me stayed focused on the practical paths, the ones with a higher return on investment. One half of me worked on a degree in psychology with a plan for graduate school, a license, a booming practice, and enough money to pay bills and loans and the costs of the hypothetical future children. While the other half sought validation and permission to become a writer.  

figure cross legged reading

Now, for those following me – here on BurlingtonVTMomsBlog or on any of my social media or my own personal blog – you know that these themes of “choosing writing” and “being a dreamer”  have been ongoing battles for me. And that while going through a separation and then divorce, I came to get reacquainted with the part of myself that knew writing was me – my core.

When I finally came back to that understanding that my own path leads me to write, I thought about how old I was when I recognized that undeniable truth. How old I was when no one else’s ideas about my future and what I should be or do mattered to me because I was a kid with a dream and kids are given permission to dream and to follow those dreams in a way adults are not granted.

The first time I remember wanting to be a writer, I was five. Barely able to read or write, but I loved books and was ahead of my classmates in being able to sound out words and read out loud. And while my spelling was originally atrocious, I liked using journal time to write stories. By twelve, I knew I wanted to be a writer more than anything else. But by twelve, I also understood that writing might not be a practical career path. Somewhere between five and twelve, I lost the single-minded fixation on my dream, and started feeling pushed to pick something more “practical.”

It wasn’t until January 2018, only a couple months after moving into my own space and filing divorce papers, that I decided enough was enough. I was done waiting for anyone else’s permission.

I didn’t need anyone to give me permission to follow my own path. If my choices made me feel good, that was all I needed. And rising out of that dark corner of my life, I desperately needed to feel good and like myself. Leaving my relationship meant that for the first time, I had no one to wait on or to get permission from.

I worked on my author website – something I had been envisioning for years. I wrote regularly. I made business cards. I blogged. I joined this team to write which I was too scared to do the year before because I didn’t think I would “have anything to say.” And I started to feel strong. Real. Enlightened. Empowered. Those dreams I had as a little girl of living the writer’s life came rushing back. This was the start of a very BIG year of giving myself permission to create and follow my own path.

The more momentum I gained following my bliss, the more I started to understand myself, and my life ambitions differently.

woman giving a speech
Photo courtesy of Carolyn Bates

I asked myself questions about who I wanted to be and what I wanted to do – careful to not confuse them. I listened to my heart and intuition more and tried to drown out my overanalyzing and doubting mind. When things went south in my day job, I was open to accepting what the universe may have in store for me next.

Through yet another ebb in my journey, I came to recognize I was not cut out for the 9-5. I realized I was capable of more than I had allowed myself to imagine. I read. I listened to podcasts. I talked with friends. And I had faith that something greater than me knew what it was doing and I just needed to allow it to flow. Not fight it. Not question it.

Boom. Boom. Boom. Strikes of lightning. The right person, the right conversation, the right connection and I was rushing into self-employment, small business ownership, and entrepreneurship faster than the speed of light. I left my day job to work on my own business full time in April 2019, just a little over a year after giving myself permission to write and to follow my own path.

That was it. So simple and, yet not so, given the number of years I couldn’t and didn’t seek out what I most needed. Once I told myself I could have a website, that I could write regularly if I wanted, and that I could pursue writing, it was like a door opened. The rest took care of itself.

I’m getting paid to write. I’m writing every day. I’m a writer. It’s practical. It’s lucrative. More than I ever realized. And I’m happier than I’ve ever been and feel like I’m exactly where I belong.

Since jumping on this mompreneur journey, I have had incredible opportunities to connect with other women through local networking groups and events, online dialogues via social media, and the training program I joined in the fall. I have had incredible access to smart, brilliant, brave, supportive women near (here in VT) and far (all the way to Germany). What I hear over and over again are stories about permission and about worth.

I’m not alone in having needed or sought permission to be able to follow my own path and pursue my dreams. I believe that in having given myself permission to turn my passion into my living, I’ve stepped into my true essence and moved toward self-actualization.

woman presenting to an audience
Photo courtesy of Jerry Johnson

This has powerful ripple effects in my closer circle. When I show up for myself and my energy changes, the world starts to align with my dreams, and I prove to others what’s possible. My happiness and positive energy are catching.

I was looking for my dad’s permission to make writing my living, but he was looking for me to find the strength to determine my own path. Now I have. He’s one of my biggest fans and so very proud of me.

Do you seek permission from others when really you just need it from yourself? How do you go about discovering and following your own path?

career success and personal satisfaction; how I gave myself permission to follow my own path



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