Your Path is Yours

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Writing was always my thing. My dad is a writer and our family’s own in-house comedian, who secretly and quietly taught me everything I know. He introduced me to The Three Stooges and Peter Sellers and made up stories at bedtime. He showed me what tenacity looks like; even more importantly, what it looks like when people tell you that you can’t do something. He pursued his dream of writing graphic novels well into adulthood, working tirelessly on book proposals and other projects after putting in an 8 hour day at a desk job to take care of his family.

To say that his attitude toward creative work had an impression on me would be an understatement.

In school, writing was my strong suit. My essays were held up in English class while my Math grades suffered even through endless tutoring. I won the Literature & Writing award at my 6th-grade graduation and brought in my short stories for my teachers to read and critique.

Despite all this, I decided to study business at a local liberal arts college. That confusing pursuit quickly lost momentum, expedited once I joined my school’s theatre club and started performing in productions. I switched to an arts major and pursued a performing career; after all, I could always sing and act, loved entertaining, and it satisfied my creative needs.

In college and after, I had some noteworthy performances, but I felt like casting directors never really knew what to do with me. I continued telling myself that I had to be better, thinner, belt-ier. That I had to make people take me seriously as a performer.

Through my sad attempts to make it to Broadway, I started blogging (the first time any of my writing was put into public view), and everything sort of clicked right into place.

I began pitching my work to online magazines and eventually, one of them published me. Then another, then another. I wrote and wrote and pitched and pitched day in and day out, all while working a miserable day job at a paper production company. I started taking improv classes and loved that this kind of performance allowed me to be whoever I wanted, casting directors be damned. 

Within a couple of years, I had taken on my first staff writing job, while continuing to grow my freelance portfolio. Now, I work full time in marketing, and my side hustle is strong. By day, I write copy and manage brand projects, and by night, I write articles for various publications, post about beauty products on Instagram, write and shoot sketch videos with my friends, perform improv, sing covers with my boyfriend, and any and all creative pursuits that spark my interest.

I feel so much more liberated now than I did when I was acting, but the industry can be tough. It's easy to equate my worth with how much work I'm able to produce or how many of my pitches are rejected. I wonder if I should go back to staff writing. I get nostalgic for my theater days.

A couple years ago, I asked my parents what advice they would give themselves at my age and my dad said, "Your path is yours. And it will look different from anyone else's." I come back to these words time and time again, and they always bring me reassurance. I think that with social media especially, there's a certain pressure to accomplish things by a certain age or to be a "girlboss." But I think we need to expand that definition; to me, a "girlboss" is anyone who trusts themselves and their path, whatever that might look like.

To learn more about Catherine, you can follow her on Instagram and read her blog here.

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