Sappy story nonsense ahead, so Tl;dr- I've improved both as a writer and a person

Howdy. I am 21 years old. Seven Months ago, my favorite horror podcast that my partner at the time got me into published my first story. This is my first fiction publication where I received money. While it is a small victory, it means a lot to me for reasons I will discuss below.


Now, I haven't been on this forum for a while, and this is because I had to take a break. Long story short, I was bratty, emotionally insecure, and in desperate need of validation. At the age of 19, I was terrified that I hadn't been published yet. I had this image in my brain of a fat, cheeto-stenched basement dweller. My grandfather is a purple heart holder who fought in the Vietnam War, and I felt I would never match him. I thought not being published made me a failure, and this insecurity bled into my interactions. I said dumb things. I lashed out at literary agents for "shutting down my dreams." I am not proud of who I was, but I've grown.

My entire worldview had a toxic cloud surrounding it, and ever since I've slowly but surely been getting more healthy. Despite having finally been published now, it wasn't until after I recognized publication isn't the end all be all that I actually succeeded as a writer. I now write stories I enjoy, which is why I started in the first place. I no longer define myself by publication, but at the same time, getting a story published feels like the final blow to my former insecurities. It proves all those doubts I had before about being useless were stupid. This too, has bled into my interactions, just as my negative attitude had. I am one of the leaders for my campus "Spoken Word" collective, and my poems and performances have gotten more pointed, confident, and explosive. My friend came up to my after one performance and said "dude, that was fire." Like Camus said, "In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible Summer."

I've dealt with some of the worst years of my life in my early college period, fighting Anxiety, Depression, self harm, and a turbulent love life. Now, for the first time I can remember in literally years, I feel fantastic.