Constructive Criticism – who doesn’t love it? Or, in my case, hate it. Recently, someone very close to me (*cough cough* my best friend) told me I should start publishing my short stories. Hearing her say this, I immediately tuned out and went about my day (watching Netflix and eating Oreos). After she realized I hadn’t quite been listening, she patiently waited for me to pay attention before dropping the biggest truth bomb on me. She told me I always do this; I shy away from criticism when it comes to my writing.

I couldn’t disagree because I knew she was right. So after I finished the episode of “How I Met Your Mother” I was on, I got my laptop and started researching where I could send my stories and who I should them to. I was mesmerized by all the options I had as a writer. I picked two places and got envelopes, stamps and general supplies for using the mailing system. After failing to properly address an envelope and feeling rather ashamed that at 20, I had to use four envelopes before I got it right (I haven’t mailed a letter since 4th grade), I put my printed stories inside and just like that, they were gone. Well, maybe not JUST like that because I had to first put them in the mailbox, but once that happened — BAM — they were gone.

I felt almost liberated after sending them in, like the weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders. Don’t get me wrong; I was terrified of receiving a response, but it felt nice to know that at least I tried, regardless of whether or not they got published. I knew going into it that I would not hear a response right way. The shortest wait time was 90 days and the longest was six months. I sometimes visualize the way they give a person the news. Like, is it formal with the usual “We are happy to inform you…” or “We regret to inform you…?” Or is it more casual, like, “Yay! You are one of the chosen ones…” or “You have failed this city…?” I am internally hoping it is like the second example, because that would be amazing.

Being a person who hates people reading my writing (I know, the irony is strong with this one), I am greatly appreciative of my best friend for having zero filters and calling me out. She was right and I am doing something about it. Leaving your comfort zone can be challenging, but once you leave, you start to realize that there are so many more opportunities once you stop limiting yourself. Limiting myself to a box without striving for what I want in life is probably the biggest obstacle I will ever face in my life and this is the year I will start to change that. Here’s to 2017; may you be rewarding in many ways.