Small Successes, Big Impact (by guest Tracy Riggs Frontz)

Maybe it’s because I have perfectionist tendencies, maybe it’s because I’m a people-pleaser, or maybe it’s because nothing but being #1 is good enough. But I often feel like a failure.

This is contrary to what others say about me. I am actually pretty accomplished. I have had over 250 articles and around 1,000 photos published. Several of my short stories have been published in three books. 

I have interviewed and/or photographed some big names such as Darcy Lynn, America’s Got Talent winner; Ginger Duggar Vuolo of 19 Kids and Counting; Michael Jr., headlining comedian; Francine Rivers, best-selling author; and Jon Erwin, producer/director of American Underdog and many other high-grossing movies.

Photo by Tracy Riggs Frontz

I’ve covered major events like the K-Love Fan Awards weekend, major and minor sports leagues, IndyCar and NASCAR, and the 2019 Southern Baptist National Convention. 

Even with all of these plus many other successes in my 55-year life, I STILL feel like a failure most of the time.

One thing I’m trying hard to learn is that the biggest successes can come out of little things, especially if you have mental and/or physical issues to overcome.

Here are some examples:

– I try to attend a monthly meeting, which is a networking and sharing event for women. It’s on the second floor of an office building, and stairs are the only way to access the meeting room. 

I have a phobia about stairs. It’s even worse if they are open stairs. Add to that, the stairs are outdoors where rain or dew makes them even scarier.

The first time I went to this meeting, it took EVERYTHING in me to get up those stairs. I somehow made it, but I shook for half of the meeting.

Photo by Tracy Riggs Frontz

That’s a success.

(It’s getting easier after attending several times, but it’s still rough.)

– Because of having Bipolar Disorder, Type 2, there are days I have a hard time not talking. I cannot stop even when I want to. Then there are other days I have a hard time talking at all.

In the past, I have tried to hide this struggle. Lately, I decided to be more transparent about my illness.

In a place where it seems everyone in attendance has everything together except for me, sharing something that can be considered a significant defect is difficult. However, the first time I did, many approached me afterward and congratulated me on being vulnerable and authentic.

That’s another success.

– I am very overweight. It’s something I’ve tried to correct my entire life. Finally, I decided it couldn’t be changed for whatever reason, so I’ve attempted to find peace with it.

I know I still need to eat healthier, even if I never lose a pound, but like most women, I sometimes crave chocolate. As a food addict, it’s especially hard to avoid giving in when I crave something.

Photo by Tracy Riggs Frontz

One of my favorite ways to indulge is a Smoky Mountain Fudge milkshake from Jack’s (a fast-food chain in the South). In the past, the majority of times I have passed a Jack’s, I fight the urge to pull into the drive-through.

Lately, when craving one of those wonderful milkshakes, I would just about be drooling when I got to Jack’s, only to discover a long line in the drive-through. Instead of getting in line, I would drive on by, deciding it wasn’t worth it.

Now, that might be a normal response for one who doesn’t deal with food addiction, but for me, it was huge. That is not what I would typically do. 

The scenario with the long line happened the next few times. Now, I drive past Jack’s either without thinking about the milkshake or dismissing the thought without the fight.

This is DEFINITELY a success.

In each of these scenarios, I felt like a total failure the first time when I tried to change. But these small successes actually impact my life more than the big ones (e.g., awards, published photos and articles, etc.) 

Let’s celebrate all successes, even the ones that may seem insignificant at the time.

Tracy Riggs Frontz is an award-winning photographer with a freelance photography business (www.novelphotos.com.) In addition to her photography, she loves writing and has published hundreds of articles and photos. She is passionate about mental health and is an advocate for those with invisible illnesses. Her blog “Spotlight on Stigma: Welcomed but Not Accepted” (www.SpotlightonStigma.com) is dedicated to this cause. Tracy and her husband, Travis, met while shooting and are pursuing learning sign language.  

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Karen Allen


  1. J.D. Wininger on May 28, 2024 at 7:57 pm

    So enjoyed meeting, and being encouraged by you, Ms. Tracy. Thank you ma’am. I was “challenged” with many of those same thoughts for years ma’am. Then I learn that FAIL was actually an acronym (First Attempt Is Learning). God’s blessings, ladies.

    • Karen Allen on May 29, 2024 at 11:40 pm

      I love that acronym, J.D. I’ve never heard that before.

  2. Sandi Herron on June 11, 2024 at 12:32 pm

    Tracy, I always love seeing you at the Southern Christian Writers’ Conference. You do such an amazing job taking photos of conference activities and sessions. This article, so authentic, is what is needed in a world where social media can paint a perfect picture of life and can make us question ourselves even though we have small successes that have a huge impact on others. You have quite an impressive list of successes that are anything but small! Thank you for being so real and open about your struggles. I’m sure many, like me, are encouraged as they read your story. Thank you!

    • Karen Allen on June 11, 2024 at 10:51 pm

      I am sure Tracy appreciates your response. Thank you, Sandi.

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