The Cyber Consultant

I always wanted to be an author. Cliche, I know. However, I was always too afraid to take that leap. Despite getting high praise for my writing throughout my schooling, I never thought that I was a good writer. It’s hard to believe that I’m saying that after being published twice before I graduated undergrad, but it’s truly how I felt. 

It Was Fate

So when Professor Koester contacted me on Linkedin in February 2020 about the chance to write a book, I wasn’t sure how to feel. But honestly it felt like fate. No one knows this, but on January 1, 2020, I sat down with my new life planner, and one of the first goals I set for myself was to “write a book.” 

I had a story that I was working on turning into a novel. The problem was that it had been sitting on my hard drive for over 4 years. I didn’t have the guts to finish it. All that time, I was pondering on how to set up the opening scene. Should she walk up to the door of her new employer, or should we start the story at the end and do a flashback? I would run through all of the different scenarios in my mind until I got tired and closed the Word document. 

I had an essay published during my Freshman year of college in a W.W. Norton English textbook for my University. I was extremely excited to be given that opportunity, even though I didn’t feel like my work deserved that type of recognition. I told my English Professor that I thought the essay was mediocre compared to my other writing, however it connected with people in a way I never imagined it would. I was told my writing was funny, engaging, witty, but I was just being myself and telling my story. 

It All Turned Upside Down

When I first got the Linkedin message, I didn’t think much of it. I thought that I was going to be pursuing a business analyst internship that Summer, so I didn’t think it was good timing. Until the world stopped due to a crisis, and my plans came tumbling down with it. In mid-March, my University dismissed us from campus, and we transitioned to virtual learning. As a technical support assistant for the University, I had to help facilitate that transition. Between my job and school, I was plenty busy. 

It was the beginning of April when I got an email from my prospective employer telling me that they were cancelling their Summer internship program. I was devastated. After wiping away my tears, I knew I needed to make a plan. So, I went on Linkedin to search for new opportunities. It seemed like every post was related to the world crisis – people were being let go from their jobs and internships were being cancelled left and right. 

There’s no way I’ll get another internship with all of this going on, I thought.

Turning Fear into Opportunity 

I moved on to my inbox and there it was, the message from Professor Koester. I looked at his page and he said he wanted to do a program this Summer to help everyone who had lost opportunities. This sounded like an amazing opportunity, so I took the leap and messaged him back. What could it hurt right?

I scheduled a phone call with him where we discussed my ideas and interests. I told him that I had a book concept already, but I didn’t know if I should run with it. Writing fiction and stories is my comfort zone. Even if I don’t always believe that I’m a good writer, I know that I can craft an interesting story. However, that is why I didn’t want to do it. I wanted to push myself outside of my comfort zone where I couldn’t hide behind plot twists and engaging dialogue. 

I wanted to explore a topic that I was passionate about, raise awareness, and help people by making the information clear and easy to understand. After much pondering and debates with myself, I decided to write a non-fiction book about cyber privacy. I wanted to focus on the privacy paradox, a theory that I learned about in one of my cyber criminology classes. 

However, I was terrified at the thought of writing a book, especially when I had just become old enough to drink. Who would listen to me? Why would they listen to me? I don’t know as much as the experts. I haven’t even graduated from college yet. I’m just a girl from a small town in North Mississippi, I’m nothing special. However, I knew that I had to do it. 

When I talked to my supervisor about the book, he was excited for me. When I began talking about the topic, cybersecurity and privacy, he chuckled and told me, “Privacy is already dead. All of our information is already out there.” Although I disagreed with his sentiment, I couldn’t explain why at the time. So I just chuckled back and said, “Yeah that’s why I want to write this book, to educate people about their privacy and security.” 

While preparing to begin researching for my book in June, I got an email from a non-profit called Cyberweek.org telling me that I was selected to be a cyber policy and partnerships intern for them. I was excited for the opportunity, but I already had my job which would be expecting more hours from me in the Summer along with prepping to write a book. Despite knowing that it would be a challenge, I took another leap of faith and signed on.

My 3 Tips for Setting and Achieving Big Goals

  1. You Don’t Have to be Perfect, but You Must be Passionate.
  2. Dream Big.
  3. Leave Your Comfort Zone.

 

Sometimes you just have to leap. No matter how afraid you are, how uncertain you are, or how busy you are. If you’re passionate about something, it will grow. It will grow beyond your wildest dreams. I used to let fear stifle me from doing the things I wanted to do, but I’ve realized that that gets you nowhere. It certainly won’t get you to your dreams. I would set mediocre goals, because I knew that I could achieve them. Never leaving your comfort zone will allow you to be comfortable, but it won’t allow you to flourish. Last year, I chose to flourish and push beyond the fear and finally let it go.   

Over the next several weeks, I’m going to be sharing excerpts and stories from my book, (the Amazon Bestseller) Cyber Curiosity: A Beginner’s Guide to Cybersecurity – How to Protect Yourself in the Modern World in this article series. Cyber Curiosity launched on May 1 on Amazon, here is the link to buy it on Amazon! The eBook is $0.99 for a limited time, so don’t miss out!

If you want to connect, you can reach me here via email contact@lakeidrasmith.com or connect with me on social media: Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin.