I was reflecting one day on my career and some of the people and places I’ve done work for. I’ve been writing since early childhood, and editing and consulting professionally since 2005. After interning for over a year for two of LA’s prominent literary professionals, my first paid editing project was for Dr. Dre’s mother, Verna Griffin, on her book Privileged to Live: A Mother’s Story of Survival. My [now longtime] colleague, Alanna Boutin, and I edited her book together. What a bomb way to begin my paid days! I was in the process of working on publishing my first novel and writing my second one. I came into the literary game with a solid foundation in the gene pool, passed down to me from my grandmother, her sister, and my mother, each of whom had a passion and talent for the English language and writing. My grandmother had five daughters, each of them highly intelligent and super articulate, just like her. These are the women I spent my entire life surrounded by, which means I not only got the gene directly from my mother but also from the rest of the Simpson women. I was set up for success long before I ever knew it.
I started my editing and consulting business on January 13, 2006. I resigned from my 14-year state job with the Department of Corrections [and Rehabilitation] at the end of that year, when it was apparent that my 9-5 work was making my life’s work difficult for me to carry out.
Somewhere around mid-2013, after almost a decade into my career, here’s what happened. I was doing some editing and proofreading temp work for different companies. Business was a little slow at the time. But here’s the thing: I had a lot of clients and experience under my belt that these companies didn’t have a clue about. All they knew was I was a qualified editor. (I’m gonna come back to that point in a minute. Hold tight!) So, I had been on this one job for about a week, maybe not even that long. I was being trained by a woman whose face I can still see clearly, but I can’t remember her name. Let me first say that this work wasn’t ideal for me; it was very technical and didn’t allow me to use the true breadth of my skills and experience. So, for me, it was fine that it wasn’t gonna be a long-term thing. One day during training, Homechick (we’ll call her that since her name still escapes me, lol) was trying to explain how to do something specific in the system. As a literary and creative consultant, my wheels were turning as I was watching her try to figure out how to move through a glitch and get me to take heed as she did it. I saw a much easier way to do it, so in true creative-minded mode, meaning absolutely no disrespect, only trying to help wrap up the issue, I innocently asked her why she couldn’t do it the way I noticed. I may not remember her name, but I remember her response. There was a slight pause, and then she threw out a snippy “I don’t know,” while not even looking my direction, eyes fixed on the computer screen. And, no, she never used my suggestion. She had a fonky attitude with me for the rest of the day, but prior to that moment, she was fine with me.
The next day, when I reported to work, I was told it would be my last day. Apparently, I just wasn’t “working out.” I knew exactly what the issue was. Homechick didn’t like that I, who was supposed to be getting trained and not know anything about anything, had an idea that [would have probably] worked, that she didn’t think of. She was supposed to be doing all the teaching and helping. How dare I try to help her do her job. Well, she couldn’t have that up under her all day, now could she? So, she got me fired. Can I prove it? Nope. Do I know it though? Yup.
I lost the gig and some good money, but now let’s get back to what I said about the companies only knowing I was a qualified editor, and let’s get to why this story is for somebody out there. Part one is this: when your skill, talent, and experience cup runneth over and you’re thrust into situations with others who are clueless about who you really are, all that you can do, and who think you’re beneath them on some level, and then you show them you’re really not, things will often go sideways really fast. If you’re not secure in who you are and what you can do, the hate and sometimes loss you’ll endure because of people’s resentment and ego will often have you feeling like you were the dead weight, when it was really them. You have got to tap in to your greatness and then own it, walk in it, and not be afraid to show it, even if it means you sometimes ruffle feathers and get dismissed, figuratively and literally. If I hadn’t been solid in myself, that experience would have had a completely different effect on me. That wasn’t the only time someone snubbed me because they weren’t prepared to experience more of me than they thought there was, and it may not be the last.
Part two is this: learn to be okay with letting go of situations (and people) that don’t allow you to flex, be you fully, and who don’t appreciate your indispensability. Earlier I said that the job wasn’t really best suited for me and my skill set, so I wasn’t really diggin’ it. I was gonna ride it out, though, since it was only gonna be a short-term gig. The money was right, and I had bills to pay. I coulda been mad at Homechick for gettin’ me booted; I mean, it was foul. But in reality, I wasn’t. I would have rather left than spent X amount of time working with someone who resented me for being me.
As you move through your days, pay close attention to the things you do well, things you love and do well, and the ways you help people that make you feel good and make them feel like you’re the one who does it best, with the most care, with the most passion. Know your greatest traits and things that are most important to you. Embrace them. Show up ready to showcase them in any and all scenarios that require it. There will always be people underestimating you because they haven’t been properly prepped about your greatness or they haven’t done their homework on you. And when they see that they have misjudged you, their reaction might be adverse. Try not to let it make you question your station in life. And if they take something from you or keep you from getting it, then not only are you dodging a bullet but also making room for better situations fit for you to shine and be applauded for it. You’re here to flourish, not shrink and/or be stepped on.
The world may not know who you are, but you make damn sure you do.