July 8, 2021

Happy Birthday Elephant Journal & Thanks for helping me Find my Voice.

I wanted to be an author all my life but never figured out how to make that happen.

I still remember the day I received a message that said, “Yo dude, check out this Elephant Academy.”

My friend Jesse Barlow suggested that I should take this training, and I immediately signed up for it. I didn’t know what to expect, but I was excited about the idea to get published.

But, of course, I had no idea that participating in the Academy would change the course of my life.

I still remember the feeling when I wrote my first article. I will never forget the excitement when my first article went kind of viral. It was one of the best moments in my life.

“Hello, my name is Molly. I am here to help.”

I asked silly questions, struggled with technology, and almost gave up—but Molly always showed up and helped me to complete the training like nobody else.

But learning and growing is not a linear process—there are ups and downs.

I remember when my mentor Nicole sent me feedback and asked me to switch up a few things. First, I was furious that she didn’t like what I wrote, but today I know that she was 100 percent right. This was my first experience of actually working on my writing and not just spitting out endless rants about politics—and that’s when I started feeling like an author.

After completing the program, I applied for one of the jobs offered—but without success. I didn’t give up and continued writing. I actually wrote three books within two years after receiving my certificate.

Two years later, I signed up to become a mentor in the Academy. It was so much fun to share what I had learned with an amazing group of writers. I started connecting with other mentors and got to know Sukriti. We chatted about our experiences as mentors, writing in general, and of course, about dogs.

I applied what Waylon taught us in our weekly meetings and grew my Instagram to 12,000 followers at the peak. Before I signed up for the Academy, I never spent much time on social media—but I learned that being an author also includes promoting my work.

It reminded me of the times when I was playing in a band: not every show is sold out, and sometimes you got to play in front of five friends. Writing is pretty similar when it comes to that—if you are only doing it for external validation, it’s going to be frustrating. But I learned that consistency is what matters at the end of the day.

I started to understand that not every article would become a viral hit—and even more important is that it is perfectly fine.

As a yoga teacher, I learned that classes with only one person showing up still have the power to change that person’s life and create connections that last for a lifetime—and it’s exactly the same with writing.

Nobody ever said that it was easy to become a writer. Sharing our voice also comes with the danger that folks might disagree with what we have to say—and believe me, I probably hold the record for receiving the most insulting comments on my articles. I was called a Communist, Nazi, narcissist, idiot, and a few other things that I don’t want to write out here—but that didn’t stop me. I actually take it as a compliment, as these folks decide to spend time reading my work and then feel the urge to share their feelings with me.

In October 2020, exactly four years after completing the Academy, I was offered a job as an editor at Elephant Journal.

Being an editor is like being a writer: nobody said that it was easy. I was struggling. I almost gave up. But then I remembered the most important thing I learned in the Academy: vulnerability is not a weakness.

I shared my concerns and admitted my shortcomings. Not because anything was wrong, but because I wanted things to be even better—because I care so much about the future of Elephant Journal.

The Academy program helped me to find my voice. I will always be thankful for that. And I want as many motivated authors to get a similar experience that I got.

But again, nobody said that it was easy.

This is the 84th article I wrote in 2021. Some of them connected with a lot of readers, and others didn’t. If someone told me five years ago that I could be a professional writer, I would have laughed at them—but here I am.

The next time you feel down because your article didn’t get as many reads as you were hoping, remind yourself that being an author is not about having one big hit; it’s about something else.

It is about that one word that Waylon keeps using over and over. It’s what makes the difference between trying and succeeding, and it can be applied to every area of our lives.

Consistency: if we keep showing up, if we keep trying, if we keep learning—then we can make anything happen. 

In my case, it was becoming an author.

Dear Waylon, thank you for creating this community. Thank you for helping me find my voice. Thank you for hiring all these amazing folks I get to work with every day. And most importantly, thanks to all of you who are part of this.

Happy birthday Elephant Journal.

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