The day I published my book was a big day….for me. I think I expected champagne bottles to pop, fireworks to light up the sky, and a chorus of angels to sing. I was sadly mistaken. I would have even settled for one of those kiddie firecrackers where you pull the string and a few streamers come shooting out. Do you remember those? The streamers didn’t even fully unwind and spindles of wrapped paper just fell to the floor. Yeah, even that didn’t happen.

It was a Sunday afternoon and I was more frustrated than I had been in a long time. After A LOT of tinkering, I published my first book to Amazon. I was so excited but alone in my excitement. The dog didn’t even wake from his slumber although his legs did move rapidly. I like to pretend that was due to his enthusiasm that yours truly had just become a published author and not because he was dreaming of finally catching that squirrel he always chases. It has been a few weeks and I have sold 16 books. Not a large number but I will have a royalty check coming from Amazon soon, so that is exciting.

Tonight I delivered my first newsletter. This initial publication went to a whopping 22 people. I am actually very proud of my 22 subscribers and excited that they either think I have something wonderful to provide to their inbox, or love me so dearly that they will support me regardless of how ridiculous I might be. So I send my newsletter and still no angels or fireworks, but I was prepared this time. At least my newsletter service gave me a virtual high five.

Then, I wait. I received nothing (oh yeah, I forgot to mention that one of the 22 subscribers was me….please reserve your judgment for the end of this post). So I eventually check my spam mail, and there is my carefully crafted e-mail idly basking in all its glory. Sitting in the junk folder…hopefully that isn’t an omen. Over the course of the night I learn that it bounced from email servers, landed in spam mail, and only a few were delivered without issue. Crap. Quite a low blow for what was supposed to be an exciting evening. 

So what’s the lesson?

I subscribe to the notion that we can’t compare our beginning to someone else’s middle or end. I mean, how much happiness does that steal from our accomplishments? A whole heck of a lot. I have sold 16 books. That’s pretty cool. If I were to compare myself to the travel gurus of the world, selling 16 books would be incredibly deflating. They started somewhere too. This is my beginning and their middle should not be important to me except to use it as a lesson for success.

Furthermore, having 22 email subscribers (okay, really 21) is an accomplishment. I could compare myself to the bloggers who have 100,000 subscribers, but what good does that do? I need my first 21 before I can reach my first 100. I need my first 100 before I can reach my first 100,000. Comparing my 21 to a professional blogger’s 100,000 would only serve one purpose: to quash any joy that I am feeling. We need to celebrate our accomplishments and learn from the pain points. Case closed.

My first newsletter was both an accomplishment and a learning moment. The same thing was true for my first book. So while it may have stolen a little bit of my thunder, it shouldn’t have because I will be better next time. I am already making changes for book number two (yes there will be a second book and the dozen people who purchased the first one will be super excited) and for my next newsletter.

Life is a big learning experiment. Sometimes it will feel like a steep, daunting climb and other times you will be on top of the world. Enjoy the ride. Relish in your skills. Forgive your mistakes. And most importantly, don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Just be happy for the uniqueness that is you and the talents you possess. 

Oh and by the way, if I ever reach 100,000 subscribers or hit the New York Time’s Best Sellers List, I’m having a party. You are cordially invited but please RSVP in advance. It’s going to be awesome.


Kristin Streff Barnett

Hi, I'm Kristin. I am a feisty and frugal 30-something with a love for travel and adventure. My younger self pursued a career as an attorney, hated the practice of law and found myself unemployed during the Great Recession. Just bloody awesome. So I decided to take control and follow my true passions: traveling, writing (aka I’m not a millionaire), and making the world just a little bit smaller by encouraging other non-millionaires to travel to their heart’s content. My website and books (available on under “abroad awakening) are dedicated to this cause. In my spare time, wait….what spare time? Let me try that again….I spend all my time working my day job, enhancing and growing Abroad Awakening, traveling (obviously), and spending time with my husband and two four legged children: Scout and Mose (don’t ask). We live a simple life, explore the world, and always seek new experiences and challenges. I have been truly blessed.