Illustrations by Monique Aimee.

Ten years ago, I was in college in New York City, zipping along Manhattan streets, making good use of a fake ID, developing a hearty appreciation for theater and frequently fretting about finances and the future.

I wish I’d known then to worry a little less, savor a little more and have faith that in the years to come I’d find my footing. We asked several accomplished women — from authors to playwrights, actresses to athletes — where they were a decade ago. Their responses are honest, relatable and hopeful. Many of their dreams came true.

Nneka McGuire, Lily multiplatform editor

Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

(Heather Weston)
(Heather Weston)

Susan Choi is the author of “Trust Exercise” and “American Woman,” among other books.

Q: Where were you living and what were you doing for work?

A: I was living in Brooklyn for the first half of the year in a rental and for the second half in the home I still live in today. It was a big year, moving-wise. I was teaching creative writing at Princeton, and trying to write my fourth book.

Q: What were you struggling with?

A: Trying to write my fourth book. It was going horribly. I owed it to my publisher — I think my due date might have been January 1, 2010. I had nothing.

Q: What was the best part of your day?

A: Being at the playground with my kids. They were little, and we played outside every day it wasn’t freezing cold or drenching rain.

Q: What were you hoping to accomplish?

A: I was pretty laser focused on that book I was struggling with so much. My first two books, I’d written before I had kids. My third book, I wrote when I had one kid. Now — in 2010 — I had two kids. I loved having kids so much, but I was afraid I’d never finish another book again.

Q: What were you afraid of?

A: Looks like I just answered that question above! But I think that fear of never finishing another book never goes away, no matter what else is happening in life. I have the same fear now, but a little bit more confidence that the fear is just part of the process, maybe even a necessary part. We’ll see in ten years, I guess.

(Courtesy of Showtime)
(Courtesy of Showtime)

Marja-Lewis Ryan is the creator and executive producer of “The L Word: Generation Q.”

Q: Where were you living and what were you doing for work?

A: I was 25, living in Los Angeles and working a few part-time jobs. I tutored math and English all over the city through a government-assisted program that served students in failing schools. I also temped doing all kinds of things: I filed insurance certificates for a property management company, answered phones for Land Rover Encino, did shipping and receiving for a construction company, and in the summer, I stuck paper ads on windshields for $10 an hour.

Q: What were you struggling with?

A: I was so poor it hurt. I was dating a woman who I loved and I didn’t want to mess it up. (We’re married now.) And cigarettes. I smoked like a crazy person in 2010.

Q: What was the best part of your day?

A: I tutored three sisters: Britney, 7; Josie, 6; and Daisy, 5. I loved going to see them. Their whole family took me under their wing. Their mom always found an extra $20 to throw me for gas. No matter what was going on in my life, I always looked forward to seeing them. (I still see them. Britney just graduated high school. They are still the best part of any day.)

Q: What were you hoping to accomplish?

A: Exactly ten years ago, my first movie premiered at Slamdance [Film Festival]. By summer, it was all over the festival circuit and I wanted it to blow up big. (It didn’t.) I also had just written a play that I wanted to make. (I did.)

Q: What were you afraid of?

A: I don’t remember being afraid of anything. I think that’s how I got to where I am now. Just taking the next thing that came up. I never thought much about failing early on. I think much more about it now that I have something to lose. But in the beginning, everything seemed impossible and therefore somehow … possible.

(Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for Hallmark Channel)
(Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for Hallmark Channel)

Vivica A. Fox is an actress whose movies include “Arkansas” and “Kill Bill: Vol. 1.”

Q: Where were you living and what were you doing for work?

A: Ten years ago, I was trying to downsize and moved from a large home to a condo. I was still acting but I was also transitioning into producing more film projects of my own and branching out into self-branding to create the Vivica A. Fox Hair Collection.

Q: What were you struggling with?

A: I was struggling with my ticking clock and trying to decide whether or not I was going to start a family.

Q: What was the best part of your day?

A: The best part of my day then is the best part of my day today: When I get to escape to the spa for daily rejuvenation, do my water workouts, steam my skin and take a little me time.

Q: What were you hoping to accomplish?

A: Ten years ago, I made the decision to be more self-accountable for my actions and committed to loving myself more.

Q: What were you afraid of?

A: I was afraid that I would not have children and what the next chapter would look like without children. Thankfully, now I have six godchildren who light up my life!

(ISI Photos)
(ISI Photos)

Carli Lloyd is a member of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team and a two-time FIFA World Cup Champion.

Q: Where were you living and what were you doing for work?

A: I was living in Mount Laurel, N.J., and playing for the U.S. Women’s National Team as well as in the National Women’s Soccer League for Sky Blue FC in New Jersey.

Q: What were you struggling with?

A: I broke my ankle while playing soccer and it was a tough period. I really wasn’t back to feeling like myself until five to six months later.

Q: What was the best part of your day?

A: While the injury was tough, it gave me the opportunity to be home more and take some time away from the game for a mental and physical break.

Q: What were you hoping to accomplish?

A: I was hoping to enjoy finally being back home playing in New Jersey, but my injury caused me to miss the majority of the season.

Q: What were you afraid of?

A: Not being able to return to how I was as a player before the injury.

(Art Streiber/AUGUST)
(Art Streiber/AUGUST)

Carmen Maria Machado is the author of “In the Dream House” and “Her Body and Other Parties.”

Q: Where were you living and what were you doing for work?

A: I was living in the Bay Area and working as an administrator in social services. I’d just found out that I’d been accepted to an MFA program and was planning my move.

Q: What were you struggling with?

A: I’d just broken up with a serious boyfriend, I was struggling financially and I hated my job. I just wanted to leave California.

Q: What was the best part of your day?

A: When I thought about the new life that was waiting for me.

Q: What were you hoping to accomplish?

A: I was hoping to restart my life, both personally and professionally.

Q: What were you afraid of?

A: Failing as a writer, running out of money, being alone.

(Courtesy of June Diane Raphael)
(Courtesy of June Diane Raphael)

June Diane Raphael stars in “Grace and Frankie” and is co-founder of the Jane Club.

Q: Where were you living and what were you doing for work?

A: Ten years ago, I was living in L.A. with my husband, Paul Scheer, in a lovely little apartment not too far from where we live now. I was auditioning and writing and at that point no longer working a day job to support myself, which was big!

Q: What were you struggling with?

A: I was more financially secure than I was in my late 20s because I was able to count on writing pilots and screenplays. I had done a season of a show but was desperate to act full time.

I was also struggling with the sudden loss of my mother a few years earlier and still in the early stages of my grief. I think back on that time and just remember sort of hovering above reality. I had started my indie film, “Ass Backwards,” that would end up going to Sundance but at that time we were frantically raising money to actually finish a mostly finished film.

Q: What was the best part of your day?

A: The best part of my days were drinking coffee in the morning and going for very long walks with my husband. Now that we have two small children, I really miss the leisure of our mornings. Our mornings now start like we are being shot out of a cannon.

Q: What were you hoping to accomplish?

A: I was hoping to book a wonderful starring role in a network show during pilot season! That was the thing I wanted more than anything. At 30, I wasn’t really thinking about kids yet or really much of anything other than eating, living and breathing comedy, and acting.

Q: What were you afraid of?

A: So much! I think I lived in a constant state of fear until about last year. At 30, I was afraid of not fulfilling my potential and of missing out on crucial opportunities. I was afraid that all of my uber-talented friends would skyrocket to huge careers and I would be left with nothing. I was afraid of no one noticing me or seeing me. And I was terrified of any and all auditions.

(Alejandra López)
(Alejandra López)

Samanta Schweblin is the author of “Little Eyes,” “Fever Dream” and “Mouthful of Birds.”

Q: Where were you living and what were you doing for work?

A: I was living in Buenos Aires and I was earning a living with creative writing workshops. I had to do five workshops a week in order to survive financially, which encroached on my own creative writing space quite a bit.

Q: What were you struggling with?

A: I was struggling with time, which I used up in the daily effort of working to barely cover the cost of the basic things at home. I was struggling with how expensive it was — and still is — to buy enough free time to write in Argentina.

Q: What was the best part of your day?

A: The afternoons, when I used to go running in Chacabuco Park.

Q: What were you hoping to accomplish?

A: Although it seemed far too ambitious a dream, because I couldn’t do very much about it, I really wanted to travel, to live abroad, to get away from Buenos Aires. Also, I was obsessed with finding a space and a routine that would serve my writing, because I felt that the enthusiasm and ideas melted away during the day too quickly. I could see clearly that, without enough time and without a routine, my strength of purpose was wasted on useless things, instead of focusing on what I wanted to write.

Q: What were you afraid of?

A: To be honest, I was a little scared of other people’s lives. I was surrounded by very fine people, but they had very different lives from the one I wanted, and it oppressed me to think that happiness, or at least the romantic idea that I had about what happiness is, was obviously something that wasn’t intended for me.

(Blaine Davis)
(Blaine Davis)

Young Jean Lee is a playwright and director whose plays include “Straight White Men,” “Untitled Feminist Show” and “The Shipment.”

Q: Where were you living and what were you doing for work?

A: I was living in Brooklyn and preparing to tour my show, “The Shipment,” to the Vienna Festival and the Sydney Opera House. I was living mostly off of grants and commissions.

Q: What were you struggling with?

A: My father had recently passed away after a long battle with cancer.

Q: What was the best part of your day?

A: Doing anything creative.

Q: What were you hoping to accomplish?

A: I was in the very earliest stages of working on my new play, “Straight White Men.”

Q: What were you afraid of?

A: That my mother wasn’t going to be okay after my dad’s passing. Fortunately, eventually she was.

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