Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Taking the High Road Sucks #writing #selflove

I have never liked cheaters. Back in high school, the valedictorian at graduation was a girl who prided herself on the ability to cheat. Then out in the "real world" I had a co-worker sabotage me with the boss by setting me up for something I didn't do...and wouldn't have dreamed of doing. As a widowed single mom, I witnessed boys with dads get positions on teams just because their fathers were buddies with coaches. I endured other parents--often with more money than I had--buy their kids' way out of trouble, which only led to their kids being bullies who knew they could do no wrong because mommy and daddy had money. Now, as an author, I witness wannabes buy themselves reviews, join subscription reader services just to swap reviews with other authors, calling themselves USA Bestselling authors because of cheating their way onto a list with a box set of other no-names, all for a chance to cheat the system while the rest of us put in the hard work.



adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.
the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished

Yet despite all of this happening around me, I don't succumb to the temptation to become a cheater. I'm not a saint, not at all, but I do believe in integrity. I want to look myself in the mirror and know I have done my best, no matter what, and that I have nothing to be ashamed of at the end of the day. Perhaps playing it straight means I occasionally fail or that I endure frustration more times than not. I have come to peace with that because at least it's honest.

I value things like the USA Today Bestseller list or the NY Times because I want to earn my way onto it through good old fashioned hard work--which involves a lot of rejection and failure and tears and screams. Slapping the title onto my book cover any other way would feel fraudulent. So I suck it up when I see it happening all around me in this publishing world, but it's hard to stay quiet or to remain above the fray.

There's a saying that goes, "good guys finish last." Maybe that's true, but at least I can stroll across the finish line of life with my head held high knowing I ran a good race. Maybe there is no such thing as Karma or maybe integrity is old-fashioned in the age of quick fixes and delusional social media posts, but it is important for me to respect myself, my work, and my journey on this earth.

Self-love is tied to self-respect. I respect myself enough to love myself with my flaws and my simple life. I can only imagine that those who cheat don't believe in themselves enough to trudge through the real challenges life presents--which is a symptom of self-loathing. 

Like I said, I'm not perfect. I get angry. I am sometimes lazy. I love junk food. I enjoy day drinking with friends. I am sometimes reckless. I get distracted. I have turned procrastination into an art form. I know I'm not perfect and am not saying I am here. But I don't cheat. I will never cheat.

What joy does a cheater get from false success? That's what I don't understand. How can they bask in the glow of an "accomplishment" if it isn't earned?

I am glad I don't understand. I don't want to be like them.

A lot of our culture seems to reward the cheaters. It's troubling but common. People buy their way into things all the time and we all shrug and accept it as normal. Oh, well, if they're doing it, why not me?--seems to be the attitude.

Taking the high road sucks, it really does. It means biting my lip more often than not. It means watching someone who writes like shit call themselves a USA Today Bestseller when it's all based on cheating they system. It means grinning at some aspiring author questioning my twenty-nine years of experience because someone else has told her about an easier way...a less ethical way. It means shrugging off the frustration so I can keep living my life on my terms despite the criticism or judgment that may come my way. It means being courageous enough to distance myself from the cheaters so I am not dragged into their mess, even if I end up having a very small circle of trusted people in my life. It means sitting at my computer every day putting in the hard work with the faith that playing by the rules is still cool in the eyes of Karma.

I have taught my kids to take the high road, too, even though it's the harder path. At the end of our lives, we will all be faced with judgment of some kind. Perhaps the judgment will be from a higher power or maybe it will simply be from ourselves as we look back at how we chose to live. Will you be happy with your choices in those last moments of your life? I know I will have regrets, but none of them will be because I lied or lived a life of illusion. No, my regrets will be because I didn't take certain opportunities out of fear or from not loving enough. Perhaps I am over-estimating the cheaters--maybe they will have no regret. I can only speak for myself when I say that I may never be the richest person or the most successful, but I will be content in how I've chosen to live authentically and with integrity.

Self-love is tied to self-respect. I respect myself enough to love myself with my flaws and my simple life. I can only imagine that those who cheat don't believe in themselves enough to trudge through the real challenges life presents--which is a symptom of self-loathing. For this alone, I have pity for them, but I still don't want to associate with them.

Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of romantic thrillers, contemporary romance, women's fiction, and nonfiction. She also works as a professional editor and creativity coach, takes road trips with her dogs whenever the mood strikes, and advocates for suicide awareness. Her life motto is: Imagine, Create, Become. No matter what challenges life tosses her way, she gathers the pieces to create something weird and wonderful. Find out more about her books by visiting her website at

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