My Letter to Fear
by Patricia Steffy
Have you ever noticed how difficult it is to get a woman to admit that she is beautiful? Seriously. Give it a try. Ask five of your friends right now if they are beautiful. You might get their best two minute stand-up routine on why they are "FINE," but a quiet moment of admission is rare—even from women who are held up by society as being examples of physical perfection.
Do we demur because we're afraid that an admission of beauty makes us shallow, vain or arrogant? Or do we deny so that we can beat others to it? Ask a woman what she loves about her looks, and you'll see her searching for an answer. Is she looking for an acceptable answer, or is she genuinely searching for something that she wouldn't change?
Now ask a woman what she hates about her looks. Watch her not even pause ...
Pieces from My Letter to Fear were featured in a one-night only special showcase event. The showcase was directed by Danielle Turchiano and featured readings from Nikki DeLoach (Awkward.), Lesley Fera (Pretty Little Liars), Stevie Lynn Jones (Crisis), Jen Lilley (Days of Our Lives), Roma Maffia (Pretty Little Liars), Dennisha Pratt (The Sunny Side Up Show), and Carla Renata (Hart of Dixie). You can see excerpts from the readings here: http://www.patriciasteffy.com/showcase/
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In April of 2011, I decided to take life in a radically new direction. After nearly 17 years of working as an analyst for a major corporate law firm, I quit. The economy was terrible. I had no job waiting for me. The only thing I really had, other than some savings, was the absolute certainty that my life would not be what I wanted it to be if I stayed.
Now, I don't want this to seem as though I made this decision over margaritas during happy hour. It had been months, if not years, in the making. Changes, big and small, had happened at work to make me truly understand that the work was not going to improve. So, I began to plan. And because I am not one for big leaps, I also began to stall. I kept playing those “if they xxx, then I will stay” games. But when your gut knows that things have run their course, they are over. In the end, it took me eight months to make the jump.
I'd love to say that it has been wine and roses ever since. It hasn't. I'd love to say that I immediately knew I wanted to be a writer, and started submitting things and getting paid for my work from day one. I didn't. But it was a start, and that decision will impact the rest of my life.
My life looks nothing like it did then. My health has improved. My love life is different (for instance, I have time to have one now). And I frequently go through phases of downright hopefulness because I'm actually invested in the work I'm doing. Do I miss Christmas bonuses? Oh, wow, yes! But on balance, I like the life I've chosen. And I'm working on embracing and learning from the new challenges that a freelance life offers.
Would I change anything? If I could go back with perfect awareness of the results of some of my decisions, I would definitely change them. I would focus faster. I would say yes to opportunities sooner. I would get out of time-consuming and emotionally damaging situations when my gut first told me to get out. But those experiences and stumbles have continued to shape me and to inform my work.
I'm more than five years out now, and I have a lot to show for the leap. Am I satisfied? Of course, not! I'm never satisfied. There is so much more that I want to do. I want to connect with a broader audience for “My Letter to Fear.” I have written a film script that I love, and I want to see it get made. I'm starting to write a new comedy, and I have a web series that I'd love to get off the ground. But I'm grateful for what I have. I have wonderful people in my life. And I can honestly say that I'm looking forward to each day.