So here's the thing: for the past four years, I've wanted to be a writer. As in make a career as a writer. As in get paid for writing. And for the past four years, I've held jobs that covered my expenses but weren't always conducive to churning out the words. After deciding in 2015 that I wanted to leave my job in 2016, I went ahead and pursued other non-writing jobs that would cover my expenses but not necessarily be conducive to churning out words. Because I'm reasonably smart and thoroughly schooled in the real-world demands of paying for shit in order to live. Who's got two thumbs and 50k in student debt? This kid.
Essentially I planned to trade one job for another while basically maintaining the status quo: work full-time and keep writing on the side. Even though I knew it wasn't working out so well, I saw it as my only option. But when the new job I was banking on fell through, and I found myself boomeranging back home and making only a quarter of my previous income (which wasn't so great to start with), I finally took the karmic hints and saw the situation for what it was:
As an educated, formerly fully employed adult used to living on her own, moving back in with my parents is my definition of rock bottom. I realize that may sound like unforgivable privilege compared to what many people go through, but it was a big life change for me and it felt like a step backward. Or, more accurately, like I was some poor sucker halfway to the top on Snakes and Ladders and had just slid down all the way to the bottom. It was a loss of progress and that hurt. I was desperate to find a ladder to climb, one that would bring me not to the top, but just back up to where I had been. I found myself chasing the status quo I'd been dying to get away from.
I took a second part-time job on top of my main part-time job, purely for the money. This job turned out to be incompatible with an old injury, and I found myself facing the same problem again: get a job, make some money, then maybe eventually be in a position to bankroll the thing I truly want to do. Keep putting my life on hold until that mythical someday, when all the stars align and the angels sing and dreams can finally come true. But as I was compiling my list of potential jobs that would eat up my time and never move me closer to my goal, I had a little a-ha moment.
What the hell am I waiting for?
As already confessed, I'm currently living in my parent's basement. Paying rent, mind you, but my expenses are far less than what they used to be. My part-time job pays enough to cover my basic needs, and the hours are very reasonable. I had exactly what I'd wanted all along: money to live and time to write. It didn't look the way I'd thought it would, but my dream had come true.
And yet I couldn't shake this feeling of being a failure, of copping out on real life to pursue some airy-fairy nonsense that would never amount to anything. I had an idea for an online course that I thought would be profitable and that I was actually qualified to provide, based on my education and work experience. I'll do this course first, I thought, and then when it's making money I can afford to write. But that was just another excuse.
I think what it boils down to is this: I am scared as hell that if I put 100% of my time, energy, and effort into the thing I love most and I fail, the world will end. Or at least my world will end. As long as I can keep saying someday, the dream is safe. As long as I have something to blame my failure on, the dream is safe. Oh, it didn't work out because I was doing this other thing too and I just didn't have the time or energy to devote to writing. But if I go after my dream and I'm just straight up not good enough, then there's nothing left after that. Nothing worth working so hard for ever again.
Which is obviously a horrible way to live your life.
I can't remember when or where I first stumbled across this article, but this piece over at oliveremberton.com really made me think then, and it's helping me think now. Imagine your ideas are bumblebees buzzing around inside a beach ball. They're all moving in different directions. In order to move the beach ball where you want it to go, you have to get the bumblebees working together, or at least get the ones who aren't helping to stop hindering. I've got so many ideas of I could do this or I could do that, and I can't keep chasing the shiny lights (or the shiny money) when it's compromising my ultimate goal. I have to get out of my own way.
When you invest 100% of yourself into something, you're inevitably setting yourself up to fail. Spectacularly. But you're also giving yourself your best chance at success. And that's a risk I'm trying to get comfortable with. I hate failure. I hate uncertainties. But when you're living in your parent's basement, there's nowhere to go but up. And in the meantime it's nice having home-cooked meals again.