In my experience, we “creative” types aren’t always the most confident people. Most of the people in my little circle are prone to bouts of, “I made this thing! I’m really proud of it! Do you want to….no wait, nevermind. It’s awful. I’m sorry for taking up 37 seconds of your time.” And so, when someone like me decides they would like to possibly share their work with the world….it takes a VILLAGE to push that person over the threshold.
So I’ve told you about a few of the major players in my particular village.
My husband, who went from encouraging to begging to handing me a glass of red and standing over me sternly until I hit “Publish.”
My mother, also known as my editor- although she always insists “It’s perfect!”
My father, who is quite possibly the person I admire most in the world, and who is my first phone call whenever anything happens in my life.
My cousin Jacqi, who texted me once a week, “Haaaaave you started the blog?” until I actually did it.
My friends, who patiently sat through a photo journal about my dog for a couple of years while I was working on my writing style.
But have I told you about Uncle Tony?
No, I don’t believe I have.
So….let me tell you about my Uncle Tony.
Uncle Tony is a very successful professional. He has a long-standing reputation for being formidable on his job sites. No nonsense. No patience. No margin for error. No bullshit.
But when it comes to him and me, I’m the lucky winner of a completely different guy.
Uncle Tony has always been, and continues to be, the not-so-quiet voice in the back of my mind, telling me, “You’ve got this. Go for it.”
When I was a little girl, sitting atop his shoulders and having the time of my little life at the Meadowlands Fair, he never spoke to me like I was a four year old spitting cotton candy onto his head. We were old friends; he listened to my stories and my thoughts on life with truly engaged interest and patience.
When I was a teenager, driving with him to his condo in Vermont late one Friday night, he told me all about his plans to build a loft and asked for my opinion on his design ideas. When that loft was finished he told everyone that I was an instrumental part in bringing it to completion. That was a little generous- I can barely build a toddler Lego set- but hey, I’ll take it.
When I started modeling after college, he told me he was expecting to see my first major ad campaign on the side of a NYC bus (I was an art model for a local sculpture class, but who doesn’t dream of having THAT Carrie Bradshaw moment??)
When my first poem was published, he offered to take time off (which was UNHEARD of) and fly us to Florida for the weekend so I could read my entry at a conference.
He introduced me to his coworkers at his 60th birthday party as, “My beautiful niece, Catherine Rose. She is incredibly smart and has a very successful marketing career.” I worked for a food redistribution company writing newsletters about French fries and frozen fish…but people need to eat, right?
When Pat and I closed on our house, he told us how impressed he was that we had done it on our own, and that we should be very proud that we are completely self-made. I currently have $146 in my checking account and close to $100k in student loans, so I’m not so sure about that one.
My point is, he amplifies things. Magnifies them. Makes you believe that you’re already THERE when you feel like you have miles to go.
Now imagine having someone who has THAT much confidence in you; someone who has ten times the assurance about your future than you ever will.
That’s one of the first people you call when you publish your first piece.
And that’s just what I did.
And do you know what Uncle Tony said? (I bet you do)
“Well it’s about time! You are going to be famous, my dear. You have such a gift- and you have a reader in me.”
The other thing about Uncle Tony?
He keeps his word.
He reads every blog. He tells other people to read it. I once excitedly told him, “Someone in the Philippines keeps checking out my writing! I have an international follower!”
“Oh yeah that’s my friend Rod, he used to work with me. I told him and his wife they would enjoy it.”
When I landed my first paid writing job, I called him from the car. I could barely contain my excitement, but he just assured me, calmly, “Catherine Rose, I knew you could do it. It’s happening for you. I’m looking forward to watching you continue to succeed. I’m so proud of you.”
I called him in tears while I was holding my first freelance check. Same response. “I’m so proud of you. I knew you could do it. Now keep going.”
Having someone so staunchly in my corner for 35 years, never wavering, never doubting me, even when I not only doubted but completely gave up on myself (which I did, for many, many years)….it’s a feeling I’ll never be able to fully explain.
I push forward hoping that one day I’ll amount to 20% of the person he tells me I already am.
And when I’m hit with one of my frequent bouts of “You can’t do this, you’re never going to amount to anything,” I force myself to hear his voice in my mind.
“Now keep going.”
And so I do.
So it would be remiss of me to not let everyone know that there’s someone else sitting quietly behind the curtain, gently pushing me forward when I think it might be time to turn around and run.
Thank you, Uncle Tony.
Thank you for boosting my confidence and keeping me focused.
Thank you for letting me steal all the cheese off the top of your French onion soup from 1986-1995ish.
Thank you for shamelessly promoting me to your coworkers around the globe, and always being up for shooting a couple dozen raw clams by the pool with me.
Thank you for being so convincing that you actually make me want to believe in myself.
You keep pushing, and I’ll keep going.