The Accidental Editor         

Do you ever look at yourself and wonder how you got wherever you are today?

Are you anything like what you thought you’d be when you were a kid?

Are you as surprised some days as I am about your life and how it’s all going?

I am sure there are millions who knew from a very early age they’d be a doctor, scientist, astronaut, librarian, firefighter, teacher, parent – they just knew that’s what they would become. And for many, it turned out exactly like that.

But I’m betting many of us are often surprised – hopefully in a good way – about the face that greets us in the mirror, about the folks we work with or for, about the life we live now as adults. About the work we do. About the decisions we made or didn’t make that brought us here. About the reasons for them, if we can even remember.

As Søren Kierkegaard famously wrote:

Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.

If you look back, can you see the seeds being planted that would grow you into the current YOU?

Can you see how they were nurtured – or weren’t – and how that affected you?

Can you see how you were shaped, either by DNA or circumstances, or both?

What remains of your 10-year-old child, wondering about his or her future? What part of that child is still within you, marveling at the life you live now?

My 10-year-old was a brat, a loudmouth, one who would take her toys home if the other kids wouldn’t play the game her way. I was invited to birthday parties based on other kids’ mom being friends with my mom … rarely based on any friendship of ours. I never felt quite right about the conformity that was touted in the 1950s world, or with a mother who prized belonging to the “right” social groups above all else. But I never knew what to do about it.

I was adopted at birth, so I shared no genetics with either parent. I also had a far better environment to grow up in than my mother had, so I was a lot different than she was in all ways. My folks surrounded me with love, so as a little kid, I always felt 100% cared for, but as I grew, arguments about what was proper for young ladies grew more heated between my mother and me. I was a rebel without being able to articulate why, and it made for some tough times.

Fast-forward a few decades, and while I can still see that confused little girl, I am grateful for her strength then and during the years that followed, even though she had no idea what to do with it. I am grateful for the decisions she made, doing the best she could to find a way to be who she was without alienating her entire world.

Thanks to what I call lucky twists of fate – taking risks that many called crazy, leaping and THEN looking all too often – things turned out pretty darn well.

And when someone asks me what I do today, I answer “I’m an accidental editor,” because it’s nothing I ever planned for. And we laugh and discuss that odd label I’ve created.

All in all, my life has been remarkable for its near-total lack of planning. I often laugh when I realize how far I’ve come, how lucky I’ve been and still am, and how strange and wonderful it is to be so comfortable with myself – finally.

What about you and your life? Would your life now make sense to your own inner 10-year-old? Are you comfortable in your own skin – and is that something new or long-standing? How did you get from there to here?


Susan Rooks
Susan Rooks
With nearly 30 years’ experience as an international workshop leader, Susan Rooks is uniquely positioned to help people master the communication skills they need to succeed. In 1995, Susan formed Grammar Goddess Communication, creating and leading workshops in three main areas – American grammar, business writing, and interpersonal skills – to help business pros enhance their communication skills. She also leads one-hour LinkedIn workshops (Master the LinkedIn Profile Basics) via Zoom to help business pros anywhere maximize their LinkedIn experience, offering it to Chambers of Commerce and other civic organizations free of charge. As an editor, Susan has worked on business blogs, award-winning children’s books, best-selling business books, website content, and even corporate annual reports (with clients from half a dozen countries), ensuring that all material is professionally presented.

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  1. Susan, This is great. I have been lucky and seemed to find open doors and just walk through them. I have always been different versions of who I was as a child. I started life as a child on a farm and in my twilight years I have returned to the country. I have always been true to who I am and never really worried much about what could be. I found comfort in what was.

  2. I love this, Susan! What you call “lucky twists of fate,” I call Divine Breadcrumbs. But it’s all the same-it’s taking a risk even when you have no idea how it’s going to work out. It’s trusting that an invisible bridge will appear to get you to the other side. You’re right–it tends to work out pretty darned well!

  3. Oh, I really appreciate the honesty of your story, all the questions you’ve asked us, and the thoughtfulness in which this essay was written, Susan. You already know pieces and many parts of my story. And my inner ten year old would not EVER have imagined the life I now live. Heck, My 30 something year old would never have believed it, either. Yet, here I am –living so many long-held in a deep freezer dreams for my life including being a published author, being invited as a guest onto podcasts, waking up in the morning so excited for another day of life-even as I grieve the loss of my dog, both my parents, and miss my adult children-for life is often a mixed up blend of so many choices we’ve made, the practices we do, the person we’re becoming even now…there’s an unfolding that seems like a mixture of grace, gratitude, grit, choice, strength, resilience, passion, and perseverance-thankfully lots of joy filled moments along the way. Thank you so much for this essay-for the opportunity to reflect back and continue to Leap with Faith forward! Hugs to you, my friend!

  4. Good morning Susan.
    I’m grateful for who I am now. I’m not sure anything is accidental. It seems like it at times as we refer to what we feel is a mistake as an accident. Lol some things are just meant to be. As a 10 year old…I wanted to be a happy adult….well a lot of accidentals happened and through them I’ve found her…
    It’s through the reflections we see how far we’ve come and yet to learn. How much we can control in how we look at what is happening around us.
    I’ve learned that fate says “ It is what it is” and destiny says “I got this!”

    Thank yo7 for sharing this and invoking some more thoughts here. Fabulous writing too!

  5. Hi Susan. Love your honesty. I was an accidental “salesperson” often doubleminded in my approach to the career. Who WANTS to be in sales, really? One day the scripture in James 1:8 “Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do” came alive and I realized I had a choice. If I chose to continue to be in sales, I HAD to fully embrace it or forever live with doubt, anxiety and the host of other negative emotions that come along with incongruency of thought and action. Gratefully, once I said “yes” to God’s plan for my life, things improved. I’ve been a sales consultant since 2008, helping others overcome the same discomfort I once felt. To answer your question, my 10 year old made and sold craft projects in the neighborhood all on her own. She set the course for my life and would be very happy that I overcame my doubts and took the path to where I am today. 🙂