It’s been weird “growing up.” I mean, it always is, but one thing in particular has been a point of disappointment over the years. When I was younger, a lot of my friends wanted to be actors, singers, artists, writers, etc etc. Some? Totally doing that. I’ve got friends with fashion labels and music on Netflix shows and I see people I know pop up on the screen more often than you’d think. Still, that’s a select few. A lot of people hit their late teens, or maybe their early twenties, and those dreams? Not really a thing anymore. They weren’t actually going to sing. They weren’t actually going to become an author. They weren’t actually going to follow that thing they wanted. It was a kid thing. It was an unreal thing. It was a not-paying-the-bills thing. It was a hard thing. So, they settled down, quieted down, dimmed down, and they did something else. That bummed me out. It took a little, tiny bit of fire away from the universe. I started looking around, and the scores of people who were once on a similar path...weren't.
I get it. LA, especially, is an expensive place. There are a lot of shitty people out there who do not want you to succeed, who will take any chance they get to tell you that you most definitely will not. They might even do it with a pleasant smile. Sometimes you don’t want to do the thing you wanted to do when you were fifteen. For some people, hobbies really do the trick.
I have never been that person. I figured out that I wanted to write fiction and be an author when I was thirteen. Actually, I didn’t just figure it out. I started doing it, and then it just seemed like the logical thing to keep doing it. I made some of my other friends feel weird years later—weird that they didn’t know what they wanted to do yet, even though they were in their late teens. In reality, I was the weird one. Or maybe I wasn’t. Maybe they did know, but something in them, or outside of them, made them second-guess what they really wanted. I don’t know.
So, now, as I sit here, almost twenty-seven (I truly do not know how that happened), still resistant to anything I don’t really want to do, with bills growing, survival ominously waiting to eat me whole, with the idea of agents and publishing houses and self-publishing and rights and-and-and looming, I start to understand how you fall off the path. Still, I haven’t wavered. Much. It’s not easy, but I’m not looking away anytime soon, despite what some might prefer. I can’t fail my thirteen-year-old self, now can I?
It turns out, maybe I was right. Maybe I am the weird one. It’s not that I found my “thing” early on. No, it’s that I’m still intending to do it. I’m still writing near every day. I’m still thinking I can get away with mostly just doing THE THING and not all the other things that get in the way. Sure, I’m gonna have to do some other stuff until my career is a career-career, but I’m still on the road. Yeah, the flowers on the side look pretty sometimes. The grass looks soft and safe. But I’m still looking off in the distance, still imagining what I could put there.
And you know what? It’s scary. It’s scarier to do what you love than it is to do something you tolerate. Who cares if you fail doing something you never really cared about?
Now, I’m not saying you’re a chicken. I’m not saying you didn’t make the right choice. Your bills are paid, hopefully. You’re alive, relatively speaking. You grew up. It happens.
But I have one question: Is that “dream” still there? And how are you going to feel if you never pursue it? Sorry, that was two questions, but you get the point.
I think I’d feel pretty shit if I gave up. Actually, I know I would. But hey, that’s just me. Maybe I never grew up, or maybe I just realized the only difference between being a kid with a dream and an adult with a dream is that you’ve got more bills to pay, so you can’t just play pretend. You’ve got to play for real.