I haven’t decided yet if I’ll dedicate all of my books to my husband George, but so far that’s the trend. He’s wonderful, he’s delightfully ridiculous, he’s the LOML (love of my life) and I’ll never get tired of sharing his amazingness with people (even though, for the record, he winces at any form of public gushing.)
Yet, while I’m beyond grateful to have him, he makes up just one piece of my support network, the group of people who hold me up, cheer me on, and reinforce my worth at key points in my creative and professional life.
Which, yes, I realize, makes me incredibly fortunate. And also very much in the mood to say thank you to them by acknowledging what they mean to me.
When I think about the other people who are by my side, not only on this creative writing journey, but in my broader mother/professor/author hybrid existence as well, I think of four vital roles that they play.
1.) They cheerlead.
On the road to creative output, everybody needs some unabashed fans. These people don’t cheer you on because what you produce is perfect, but because they’ve been following your journey and you simply DID what you set out to do. They celebrate the accomplishment, the goal met, the willingness to put yourself out there. They acknowledge the time and the toiling and the turmoil that goes into any kind of creative or professional endeavor, and they celebrate you, flaws and all.
2.) They comfort.
It’s been my experience that any kind of goal-seeking comes packaged with a whole heap of vulnerability. People or processes will disappoint and discourage you along the way. Others will let you down, or cause you to doubt yourself or your worth. Your true supporters, though fangirls at heart, won’t simply discount these experiences simply because they happen to love you. They’ll express empathy, sympathy, and share hugs (in real life or virtually.) And when the time comes, they’ll help pick you up and strategize next steps and Plan Bs.
3.) They rage.
There’s a time for cheering, a time for comfort, and then, every so often, there’s a time to rage on behalf of someone you love. I’m fortunate that this hasn’t come up often for me in my creative or professional journeys, but when it has, my support network has been quick to don their Mama Bear armor and to rage on my behalf. Sometimes circumstances are just shitty, or encounters are just heart wrenching, and a stronger supportive stance is necessary. To say “No, you’re right to be mad,” to have your anger acknowledged, is a powerful gift at certain times. (And the “burn it all down” gifs help, too.) At least until…..
4.) They put things into perspective and remind you of the bigger picture.
At the end of the day, whether it’s my creative work or my professional trajectory, many of these day-to-day moments are mere blips in the story of my life — a life that’s rich with many other experiences related to my family, my community, my education, my politics, and my spirit. My creative goal chasing should be fun and challenging, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of my health, my marriage, my relationships, or my day job. My support system reminds me of this on those occasions that I *might* tend to be spiraling over some little micro-situation. They help me ask the “will this still matter in five years?” questions and tailor my reactions accordingly.
Support networks come in all sorts of shapes and forms. Mine happens to be comprised largely of beautiful, glowing, sun goddesses, and I would be lost without them. And I can say with 100% certainty that it’s one of the great honors of my life to offer these support services right back to them. My hope for you all, with whatever goals you might set for yourself, is that on your journey, you develop the same kind of well-rounded support community that you can be whole with.