Do you find yourself always saying no to new experiences? Are you consistently avoiding new situations because you fear you have nothing to offer or are unworthy of an experience? Let me tell you that you’re not alone. Sidestepping new adventures that throw us far out of our comfort zone is a defense mechanism. It’s meant to protect us when it really just holds us back from the awesomeness and love of the world we live in. It keeps us on the sidelines of personal growth and prevents us from being who we are wholly meant to be.

I’m not preaching from the pulpit. Trust me! I get it. I love to say no. Or, at least, I used to. Lately, I find that the more I say yes to things that seemed too far fetched the more interesting my life becomes. Saying yes has opened my eyes to what the the divine creator of this universe wants me to do.

Back in early fall, I was contacted by a couple of high schools in my area. These schools asked me to present to their contemporary literature students, which roughly turned out being between 150–350 high school students — teenagers! Let me tell you. I don’t mind public speaking. In fact, I may love it a little too much. Sometimes I forget that I’m not a stand-up comedian and, let me tell you this, when I act like I am one it always ends badly.

So, public speaking? Not a big deal. Standing in front of a bunch of teenagers that’s a HUGE deal and quite terrifying.

I don’t care how old you are. You can’t fool teenagers. They strip you down, seek out your vulnerability, and know when you’re full of SHIT. Not only did I worry I wouldn’t be relevant (I hardly write YA), I was certain I wouldn’t have anything worthy to contribute to these young writers and readers.

True confession? Even up to a day before the presentation I considered backing out. That damn work ethic drilled into me by my husband stopped me though. That and the guilt that I would let someone down. Damn guilt. It rides my back like a diaper-wearing monkey at a carnival. Yet, I’m moving away from point.

What do you do when you’re terrified? You dive in and you hope your survival instincts will kick in. You know what, though? I was completely self-centered the entire time I was considering saying no to this awesome opportunity. I quickly learned that my being there wasn’t entirely about what I could bring of worth to these students, but the value that they gifted me.

A New Direction . . .

I realized that I love meeting young writers. I love feeling that connectivity with other creative minds and it makes me remember what it was like when I was 16 just trying to get the words to make sense on paper after they tumbled from imagination. Whether you’re 15 or 39, a writer is a writer is a writer. It’s that simple.

What these students don’t know — well, now they do if they’re reading this — is that they inspired me to be open the creative flow that pulsates around all of us at every second of the day. To accept the possibilities of new opportunities.

The new year is a clichéd time to start new projects, but that’s okay. January 1 represents a fresh start for us all. This year because I said yes to those students I feel the universe tugging me in the direction toward guiding young writers on their creative journeys. Whether you write novels, create clever tweets, write heart-stopping lyrics or haven’t quite found the best way to express yourself, I hope you know that I feel you. Let’s go on this awe-inspiring, scary journey together.

2017 is going to be an amazing year. A year where we say no less and yes a little more. A year where we discover more of the creative magic around us.

Originally published at on January 8, 2017.

Originally published at