Whatever we choose to do with our lives, we will face challenges, obstacles and roadblocks. These are the opponents in our cage. 

We should long to do whatever we’ve chosen to the best of our ability, if it’s something we’re truly passionate about. Often the challenges we face have only one intent—to get us to tap out. 

Today I’m writing to myself—who I’ve been and who I want to be. In the process, I hope to write to you as well. What I have to say can apply to anyone—writer or not—in any line of work or season of life and to anyone who desires to stand on a higher level in their chosen profession or life focus. 

My passion is writing. I have made multiple decisions and choices over the past twenty years, as I’ve pursued that passion. Each of those led me to who I am now—an Indie Author who started her own Press to publish her work and co-written work now and others’ works in the future. 

With these decisions came many challenges. I thought I’d share a few of mine with you today, in the hope that my experiences can encourage you and urge you to keep holding on and fighting back against your challenge opponents. 

[Sidenote: If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m a fan of MMA.] 

If an opponent were easy to beat, why would we want to bother? 

I’ll never forget the months following Hurricane Katrina. At that time, I worked for The Mississippi Press. Our offices were completely flooded, so we worked out of the Mobile Press, our sister paper, for a while. It was an incredibly emotional time for anyone who lived along the Gulf Coast of the United States. This was my first fulltime job right after college. I was super green and struggling to figure out the whole adult thing on top of having an incredibly demanding job. That was before the massive hurricane disrupted our world. 

One day, all of the devastation and loss and hurt and confusion crashed over me like one of the waves the hurricane blew over land. I sat down with a couple of my colleagues and one of our editors. I voiced my concern that I wasn’t cut out for this after all. Although I can’t remember exactly what he said to us that day, I do remember the feeling of calm and assurance he cast over us and the encouragement he gave me to keep going. One day at a time; one story at a time. 

Journalism was a hard profession, no doubt; but I embraced the challenge of that truth that day. 

Often the worthiest undertakings are also the hardest. It’s up to us to choose whether to stick with them and push through or to give up and find another way to spend our time in this life. 

We can either let others’ doubts dominate us, or we can escape their hold and keep fighting. 

Journalism was a male-dominated profession for many years. I had the great opportunity to be hired by two outstanding editors who brought in three young women right out of college because they saw the talent in us, the fire in us and the potential in us. Those two men believed in us, so we believed in ourselves. 

Each reporter had his or her own beat. Part of mine included a local police station I needed to visit each day for their reports. The first day I walked in to meet with those detectives and the police chief, I was scared crazy and immediately noticed their smirks and uncertainty of having to work with me. But, I did my best not to let my feelings show and refused to let their lack of faith in my abilities get to me. I stood tall, gave firm handshakes, answered questions, asked my own and joked with them. 

Not long into my time at that newspaper, I had senior reporters compliment me on how well I had done in breaking in to that station and getting more detailed reports from them than some of my predecessors (who were male, I might add) had. 

My secret? I knew they were skeptical of the news media. I knew they were doubly skeptical of the abilities of a young woman. So, I chose to earn their trust and do my very best in reporting their news. As a result, I was the one they called for everything. Whenever anything happened, they called me first. I got information the bigger news outlets nearby didn’t get. This has happened in other jobs as well. 

I’ve seen the doubt and even condescension in the eyes of men or older, more experienced people when I’ve taken certain jobs. Instead of getting upset and bemoaning the fact that they would look at me that way, I pumped myself up to face the challenge and proved them wrong. Every. Single. Time. 

Often, it’s the fights we’d rather not take that teach us the most. 

When I moved and took a job in public relations instead of journalism, I found myself disheartened. That wasn’t the profession I wanted, but it was the one that opened up to me. From there, much of the work I did from home after the birth of my first child fell under the cloaks of PR or customer service. At times, I hated certain tasks. 

However, once I embarked on the journey toward becoming an Indie Author, I discovered something I hadn’t expected. Every job I’d ever had—many I’d never wanted and even complained about—had prepared me for this chosen profession. I had learned things and acquired skills I never would have had otherwise. 

A win or loss often gets decided within the fighter’s mind. 

Self-doubt, fear of failure or success, often crippling uncertainty of our worth or ability—these are real challenges. Most athletes embrace the fact that it’s the mental as much as the physical that determines their readiness to stand against an opponent. I found this article about MMA Mental Toughness Training to be fascinating and applicable across the divide between creative and physical pursuits. 

I first set out to pursue the title author back in 2010. Everything I did, I doubted. I was scared to death of failure, but even more of success. So, I put the pen away and gave up. 

I wasn’t mentally ready. 

In 2016, I decided to try again, but I first had to face—and dominate—the giant opponents of Fear and Self-doubt. Once I did, I found out I could be unstoppable—as long as I remember that is a step I will need to take over and over throughout my career as an author. 

When I work on a new story or prepare to release a blog post or gear up for the launch of a book or speak to a group, I will face these opponents. When they get me in a hold that feels irreversible, I’ve got to dig deep within my mind for this mental strength in order to evaluate my situation, recall my training and find a way to escape and reverse that opponent’s hold. 

You can face a self-proclaimed superior opponent—and not tap out. 

Though rare these days in the worldwide literary community, disdain for or condescension toward self-publishing still exists. My choice for that particular challenge? To be better. 

I resolved to show professionalism in all I do and to strive to set every aspect of my business up properly from the beginning, to make wise choices as I go and to produce my very best work at each stage. 

I desire to publish work as good as, if not better than, others’. I also choose to believe in my dreams and in my God-given abilities enough to work harder to achieve them than I’ve worked on anything else in my life. Instead of submitting to the few who aren’t so willing to consider an Indie Author, I choose to prove them wrong. 

How can this apply to you? 

Perhaps you’re not a writer, but you’ve chosen some path—parent, blogger, chef, architect, doctor. Whatever your choice, I’m sure you face challenges too. Perhaps it’s family who won’t support what you do. Maybe you have your eyes set on climbing the ladder, but it seems an awfully steep incline. Or it could be your choice that’s the problem. You may have not found your passion yet. 

Regardless of the challenge in the cage with you, I urge you to face it. Do the mental and physical preparation you need to face it. Don’t shy away from it. Believe in yourself and your training. Look for an opportunity to force its submission or go for the TKO. 

Fight on, my friend!

What challenges do you face? Have you faced and defeated other challenges in your past? Perhaps a look back can give you the motivation you need to press forward.

I’d love to hear about some creative ways you’ve forced a submission from the challenges in your life. Share away!

Do you think it’s harder to face an outside challenge—one coming at you from others—or an inner one? I think sometimes we’re our own worst enemies. I know I am mine!