Ready To Share Her Story With The World! A Special Conversation With Amazon Best-Selling Author Carrington Smith
Q: Tell us a bit about your background and upbringing. What has made you the strong woman you are today?
CS: I am the great-great granddaughter of the founder of International Paper Company. Traded on the NYSE, it is the largest pulp and paper company in the world. I was born into a high society family after the bulk of the wealth was gone. My family was wrapped up in who they used to be, clinging to social status, and full of resentment. It was a family short on love, compassion, and support. We were more a collection of people competing for resources, attention, accolades, and love, than a family looking out for one another. I was supposed to live up to the lofty expectations of my family, but I was on my own to make that happen. Their lack of confidence in me is what propelled me to academic and professional success. I became determined to prove everyone wrong.
The daughter of a narcissistic and abusive father, I was filled with self-loathing and never felt like I was worthy of love. My father would constantly compare me to my sister, and I would never measure up. As I learned to pursue things away from the shadow of my sister. I began to build self-esteem based on my own unique achievements. Ultimately, it is when I ended my relationship with my father that I really began to bloom. I had to get rid of my father’s voice in my head – that is negative self-talk—and replace it with a new internal dialogue – one of self-love and support.
Q: What inspired you to share your story with the world?
CS: The pandemic. I had written short stories over the years but never knew what to do with them. I wondered who would care. When the pandemic hit – an event universally traumatic to everyone – I realized that it was my very ordinariness that made my stories compelling. They were stories that everyone could relate to because they discuss universal experiences. I suddenly felt compelled to share how life has taught me to view times like these as full of growth and opportunity. I believe that people learn through stories, and it is my hope that through sharing my story people may take away some of the wisdom I learned from the trauma, messes, and difficulties in life.
Q: If you could tell your younger self anything, what would it be?
CS: I would tell my younger self that you are worthy of love without doing anything. I used to joke that like the movie, The Matrix, I would shape-shift myself to please others and make them happy. I did this to the point that I lacked any real identity. I became who I thought others wanted me to be. It wasn’t until later in life that I learned that I was lovable for simply being and that I didn’t have to do anything to be lovable. I took the time to discover who I was and learned that maintaining a separate identity was critical to the success of my relationships.
Q: What is a quote or saying you live by?
CS: “With Adversity Comes Opportunity.” I embrace this quote fully. In life, when something bad happens, I first honor the adversity – I feel the pain, grieve the loss, allow myself to get angry – but then I start to look for the opportunity, the gift, the growth, the silver lining, because life’s challenges serve as fertilizer, and it is the fertilizer that enables us to bloom into our greatness.
Q: What does it mean to live authentically?
CS: Living authentically means that how you behave on the outside matches who you are on the inside. Your character and values are in alignment with your behavior. It also means admitting when you are wrong, owning your blunders, inadequacies, and failures. It means not pretending that your life is Instagram perfect. It does not mean oversharing or sharing inappropriate things. It does mean being vulnerable and responding with empathy. It means not hiding behind a façade. It means letting go of perfectionism and learning to love yourself and others as they are without expectation of change.
Q: How can women bloom from adversity?
CS: Women can bloom from adversity by taking what was done to them and by shifting their mindset turning that trauma into something that serves them now. By claiming and repurposing life’s adversities, we can use the wisdom, strengths, and character traits that emerge from them to propel us through life. In turn, our adversities stop being taps that drain us, but instead become the mettle we need to catapult us to greatness.
Q: What's the greatest fear you've had to overcome to get where you are today?
CS: Standing out. As women we spend our lives trying to fit in. As a society, we like things that are the same, fit, and line up. Fitting in and staying out of the limelight is safe, but to get where I am today, I had to find my voice, step into the light, and dare to be different.
Q: Can you tell our audience one of your most memorable moments your career?
CS: When I was a young lawyer, I was being sexually harassed by a former Texas Supreme Court justice. My firm refused to do anything about it, so my only option was to leave the firm. I called a client to ask them for a reference and he replied that wherever I was going, he was going with me. Along with two other associates, we ended up leaving the firm and starting our own law firm. This was a pivotal moment for me for two reasons: (1) I took my power back and voted with my feet, and (2) I gained tremendous self-confidence in my abilities as a lawyer.
Q: What’s one lesson you’ve learned in your career that you can share with our audience?
CS: Always be different. As the great Coco Chanel said, “In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.” I realized early on in life that it instead of following the crowd, greater success could be achieved by charting a separate course, or swimming in the opposite direction.
Q: What would be the title of your autobiography?
CS: Funny you should ask, I just published my memoir, Blooming: Finding Gifts in the Sh*t of Life. In the book, I take the reader on a treasure hunt to discover the gifts in my failures, trauma, and difficulties in life. I take the reader on my journey to take what was “done” to me and repurpose it into something that was “given” to me. How I learned to reshape my trauma from something that drains me into something that serves me now and propels me through life.
Six Things About Carrington Smith
1. If you could share a meal with any 4 individuals, living or dead, who would they be?
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, RuPaul, Andy Cohen, and Dominick Dunne – how much fun would that meal be? With my upbringing, I learned all about the importance of seating arrangements and place cards. Getting the right mix of people at a table is a skill.
2. What celebrity would you like to meet at Starbucks for a cup of coffee?
Kelly Ripa. Love her and feel like we would be great friends.
3. What’s your favorite quote or saying?
“Learn to laugh at yourself and you’ll be entertained for life!”
4. Favorite Dessert?
5. Which of the five senses would you say is your strongest?
My sixth sense is my strongest – that is intuition. Like Helen Keller developed a heightened sense of touch to compensate for her lack of sight and hearing, I developed a heightened sense of intuition to navigate my childhood.
6. What were you like in high school?
For years, I was “the smartest girl in the class.” I was a total book worm. When I transferred to public school as a junior, I participated in student government and planned a prom fashion show.