Monday, April 29, 2013

You've Changed

Me at my first Ladies' Night Out, American Fork Deseret Book
April 2003
Back when I was first published (yes, check out the picture of me ... little baby author Tristi) I had one main goal.

You see, when I got my contract, a friend of my mother's said to me, "I hope you don't change now that you're going to be published. An author lives in our ward, and as soon as she got published, she became totally different. She won't give us the time of day anymore."

Other people said pretty much the same thing. "I hope that when you're rich and famous, you'll still have time for us."  "Well, it was nice knowing you." "You'll be different now, I guess."

These comments all really bothered me. Why would getting a publishing contract mean that I would change? Why couldn't I be a published author and still be myself - wasn't there a way to be both? And so I set a goal, the main goal I mentioned in the first paragraph: I was not going to change. I would always be me.

My plan seemed to work. No matter how many book signings I did or classes I presented or book clubs I did, I was careful that I was always myself. I never put on any airs or acted stuck up or pretended to know stuff I didn't know. I didn't name-drop ... even though I actually know some really amazing, highly famous people ... and I tried to stay pretty low-key about some of the awesome experiences I had. I didn't want people to look at me and say, "She's changed. She got published and now she's a totally different person." I was going to fight that tooth and nail.

But then I realized something. I had changed.

I was more confident.

I was more educated.

I was more outgoing.

I was finding new talents to share.

I was becoming an expert in my field.

I was funnier.

I was more popular.

I was learning how to respect myself more.

I was making money.  (Not a lot, but some. Still working on that.)

I was sought after.

I was viewed as a mentor.

I was stronger mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Oh, no. I broke my promise ... I had promised not to change, and then I went and did it.

Almost ten years later, Storymakers Conference
2012. Photo credit Erin Summerill.
When I look at who I was back then and who I am today, I can't say that I regret breaking that promise. The fundamentals of who I am have not changed. I'm still friendly and approachable and helpful and as cute as a button, but I'm also wiser and stronger and more able to hold my own. I have learned so much, and everything I've learned has shaped me. I'm a far, far better person than I was ten years ago.

And have I lost friends along the way? I'm sorry to say that I have. Some didn't realize that I wasn't going to dump them and they dumped me first, thinking they'd take it upon themselves. And some, even though I rarely even mentioned my writing, felt that I talked about it too much and thought I was bragging. What I've come to realize is this -the people who said "Don't change" were really saying "Don't leave us behind. Um, no, we aren't going to pursue our own dreams - that's too hard - so you stay back here with us so we can be more comfortable."

I don't like to think about the relationships that were left behind - it makes me sad. But a real friendship, a real relationship, doesn't punish you for growing as a person, and I learned that the hard way.

Being an author does change you, whether you want it to or not. Every experience you have in life should change you - that's what life is for. If your life isn't changing you, you aren't living it right. We should not leave this planet the same people we were as when we stepped on it. We should be stronger. We should be smarter. We should be more compassionate, more aware, more giving.

I like who I am now. I know I'm not everyone's cup of tea - a little Tristi goes a long way - but I'm proud of the progress I've made. I still have a lot to do - weaknesses I want to turn into strengths, character flaws I'm not too crazy about - and, unfortunately, I know that growth will hurt. That's just part of it. But what it all boils down to is this - I've changed. I've changed for the better, for the smarter, for the wiser, and no one should ask you to stay the same either.

Experiences that don't change you aren't worth having.


Kimberly VanderHorst said...

Tristi, this is beautiful in oh so many ways. And you really do exemplify all the best ways in which success can effect a person.

Plus, you really ARE as cute as a button. Can't wait to see you next week!

Tristi Pinkston said...

A week ... squeal!!!!!! Can't wait either!!!

Monique said...

What Kimberly said. :) --and I'll echo your sentiment that life is about learning and growing and inviting others along the journey and letting them choose whether they want to go the distance with you or not.

Sometimes change is hard and scary. And often when it's done been hard and scary, it is extremely rewarding and uplifting.

Rainbows come after the storm, not before. So seek your rainbows, and if you don't mind, I'll tag along. :) I love who you are. I'm looking forward to seeing you next week as well. :)

Tapper said...

Thanks for giving this thought a voice. I loved reading it. It hit home!

Jadie Jones said...

I loved this post. Thank you for giving it voice.

Karen Hoover said...

Brilliant, as always. :) I'm certainly grateful for the changes, and have benefited in so many ways because of it. I would never have been published if not for your kindness, support, and wisdom. You're my hero, Tristi. (((HUGS)))

Karen Jones Gowen said...

Beautiful post, Tristi, and almost too profound for comment. Thank you for expressing so much so well.

Norma said...

Thank you for this post. I needed to read it.

Shanda Cottam said...

Beautiful post by a beautiful person. Love you, Tristi-girl!

Mr. said...


Part of the problem is that, culturally, we don't have a good way to talk about our accomplishments. And some fields---writing is one---with their perception of glamour are particularly taboo. Wishing to be a writer is okay. Actually be[com]ing a writer is a tad cocky.

It's a shame we can't all just be happy for each other. Your successes do not lessen me. When will I get that through my thick skull and stiff neck and hard heart?

Kaylee Baldwin said...

Perfectly put!

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