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Aidan Donnelley Rowley Says Insecurities Can Be Your Greatest Asset

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This week’s Office Hours featured Aidan Donnelley Rowley, author of the novel Life After Yes and the blog, Ivy League Insecurities. After rejecting a well-respected and secure career in law, Rowley decided to pursue her real passion: writing and being a mother. And though she knew she had insecurities and found herself wandering a bit, these are the things that actually helped find her path in life.

Like many people, Aidan still found herself confused about what she really wanted to do after she completed her formal, and very impressive education (Yale undergrad and Columbia for her law degree.) She had loved learning (calling herself “the consumate school girl”) and she enjoyed her job at a prestigious law firm, but she just realized that this was not what she wanted her story to be. Though she had people telling her to stay at least two years at the firm, Aidan knew she needed to leave now to chase her dream of writing a book.

Of course, just sitting down and writing a book was far easier said then done, Aidan found. But the “wandering” period between leaving her job and publishing her first book was very helpful in making her into the person she is today, and she recommends that everyone create and embrace their own wandering story. She encourages that everyone should take the time to ask what kind of life you want to live and to learn from your insecurities. “I think to be able to look at insecurities is immensely helpful. I think we should not try to get rid of our insecurities, but look at them differently. Insecurities are what reunite us. They are what makes us human.”

Here are some other great pieces of advice shared by Aidan:

1) No one wants to live a boring story so don’t! Get out there and do what you want and figure it out.

2) Ask yourself the big questions. We aren’t in a great philosophy class with a professor anymore. We have to ask ourselves those big thinking questions. Are you happy? Are you inspired? Are you anxious?

3) Don’t edit yourself as you go along. In the words of Ernest Hemingway, “The first draft of anything is shit.” But you still have a lot to work with from the creation of that draft. Aidan stresses that you need to allow yourself to create a full first draft to build the foundation for a beautiful final product.

4) Mistakes are really important. Typos are part of the process! They are important and inevitable. And, Aidan has found, your imperfections and your vulnerability can be a great strength. “To pretend that we are not works in progress is just unfortunate. We are all human beings. We will ultimately find the most success doing something that matters to us,” she said.

Watch the Office Hours video to learn the rest of Aidan’s 10 tips!

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