Cheeks burning, eyes cast down, and a ringing in my ears, I waited as my classmates skipped over to their teams.
As my group dwindled, my anxiety grew.
The popular kids got picked first, of course – whether they were any good or not. Then everyone else.
And finally, the losers, weirdos, and loners. Those of us who had our noses in Oscar Wilde poems and created our own comic books.
We lingered, hoping we'd get picked, silently begging not to be left until last.
I didn't know enough back then to hold my head high. I didn't realise how things would change.
Even if I had, it wouldn't have mattered – because is there anything more painful than being a social reject? (Rhetorical question: unless your leg has come off, there isn't. Research has found the physical pain centres in our brains are activated when we feel lonely, rejected, and isolated.)
My 12-year-old self couldn't give two shites what my 40-year-old self now understands: that this, too, shall pass, and that a bunch of kids at school ultimately can't decide your fate (unless you let them).
The thing is, though, your 12-year-old self never really goes away. I realised this anew when watching the latest series of RuPaul's Drag Race. They do mini-challenges, and sometimes have two winners. Those two winners get to pick their teams for the main challenge from the rest of the contestants.
The nature of the thing means someone always gets picked last. Sometimes it's just the way it rolls; other times, it's because nobody wants that person on their team.
Either way, it's painful. You can see it on the queens' faces. They try to hide the pain and shame with cheesy grins and breezy overacting – just as we did when we were kids. But the pain oozes out of the cracks between the smiles anyway, and the 12-year-old self bubbles up from inside.
I wish I'd known then what I know now: if you get picked last, you can start your own damn team.
When you see competitors doing well, it feels kinda like getting picked last.
Why aren't they choosing me? Why them? What do they have that I don't? I know my products and services are better, so why am I picked last?
We look at those competitors and try to emulate what they're doing, but the problem with that is, we're still trying to get on their team. The hard truth is, their team doesn't want us. We don't fit.
So let me ask you: do you really want to be part of someone else's team? Really?
Start your own damn team.
It's the reason I write books for my business and for my clients' businesses. It's the reason I teach business owners like you to write your own book.
There is no better way to stamp your mark on the world and start your own team than by writing your book.
Declare to the world who you are and what you stand for, and give your people something to shout about. Gather your followers and start your movement.
You can do this. Even if it seems like a massive scary undertaking, I know you can do this, because I've done it and my clients have done it, so you can, too.
Take your first Tiny Beetle Step today and pre-order How The Hell Do You Write A Book, which takes you by the hand and leads you step by Tiny Beetle Step on your big author adventure.
p.s. I can't wait to see the book you write. Are you ready to start?
Start Writing Your Book Today
If you want to learn more about how to write, self-publish, and market a book for your business, snaffle yourself a copy of How The Hell Do You Write A Book? Then check out the blog and podcast for more articles and guides. If you want a little (or a lot) more help, find out how you can work with me.
Vicky Fraser is the founder of Moxie Books and author of How The Hell Do You Write A Book and Business For Superheroes. She helps business owners write books, connect with readers and new customers, and grow their businesses. When she's not doing that, she's hanging from a trapeze by her feet.