I was about ten years old when I decided that I wanted to lead a fairly difficult life. I was sitting in my school’s library at the time, listening to my librarian read to my class some story about a little girl who wanted to be a writer more than anything in the world, and it dawned on me then that that was something that a person could be. That at one point in their lives, J.K. Rowling and Stephen King were once sitting where I was sitting, listening to their librarian tell stories to their classes, and that someone somewhere would have to take their place someday. Why couldn’t that person be me? Why couldn’t I be the next great writer?
Twelves years has passed since then, and I think that it’s needless to say that a lot has changed. It’s a hell of a lot easier to say that you’d be willing to live on a diet of cold beans straight out of the can if it got you to a writing career eventually when you aren’t actually faced with it, when you’re ten years and still dependant on your parents to tell you if you can even leave the house. But twelve years of standing by the belief that I am going to be a writer, whether I like it or not, has strengthened my resolve quite a bit, and brought me to a place where I know that I absolutely cannot give up on it, come what may. Which is an amazing gift to have, because the twelve years that has passed since then have not gone by without an immense amount of fear and moments where I completely lacked any motivation.
I always knew that I wanted to be a writer. That was my goal, the thing to which I set my mind, that I was going to do. And there have been many points in the last twelve years where I found myself wondering why?
I found myself wondering why when people began pestering me about my progress – or, in many cases, lack thereof. “Have you submitted anything to be published yet?” “Have you set up a website for yourself yet?” “Have you talked to this person? How about that person?” “Do you really know what you’re doing?” No. I had no fucking clue what I was doing. I wasn’t born into a family of professional writers, I didn’t know anyone who had ever done this before, and more than that, when I was being asked these questions, I was either a) a teenager, or b) immensely, cripplingly depressed, either state of mind translating to the simple fact that I wasn’t emotionally ready. And not being emotionally ready and being constantly bombarded with questions of why haven’t you done this yet made me wonder if I really could do this. There was just so much, too much for me to do. It overwhelmed me. It made me wonder why bother, because I wasn’t doing anything, I would never do anything, and my dreams of being a writer would never amount to anything because I was such an utter and complete failure.
But I kept on writing, and in my own way, I kept on making my personal progress. Not because I was brave or because I was intentionally overcoming any fears or anything like that, but because when I was ten years old, I decided that I was going to be a writer, and so what else was I if not that?
And again, I found myself wondering why when my high school teachers questioned my choice constantly.
“So what do you want to be when you graduate?”
“Well, I’ve always wanted to be a writer.”
“That’s not very practical. You realize that, right? Writers don’t make a lot of money. Maybe you should consider something else, something like journalism, maybe?”
I had this conversation again and again, all throughout my high school career, and there were times where I could easily ignore it. Sometimes I’d tell my teachers that they were right and that I’d consider other career options, but I never really meant it – I only said it to make them stop pestering me. The truth was that I was going to be a writer. I was going to be broke and working another job for what would most likely turn out to be the rest of my life, but I was going to be a writer nonetheless. There were moments where I’d have confidence in that. And then there were moments, especially as my depression worsened and my motivation waned, where I seriously considered maybe giving writing up, maybe focusing my energy on something that would make me a bit more money in the long run. After all, that would make the most sense, right? We live in a society run by money, where nothing is available if you do not have it, not even food, so why would I choose not to do everything in my power to get it? That would be the logical thing, right? Why was I subjecting myself to such hardship when the option not to was available?
But still, I kept on writing. I kept writing because when I was ten, I decided that I was going to be a writer, and that thought was enough to keep me going. I pushed through, I forced myself to make progress, and little by little, I started to take steps forward. Though my fear tried to hold me back, to keep me stationary, I had one thought to keep in mind, one belief that I held so dear that I would not let anything keep me back from it. Not my depression. Not my lack of motivation. Not even my fear.
I was going to be a writer.
But not everyone has a belief that they hold that strong. Many people find themselves confronted with fear, and they have a very difficult time moving around it. Sometimes they can’t move around it. Sometimes they remain stationary for long periods of time, unable to overcome their fear, because they have nothing telling them that they should. But the thing is, people cannot live their lives that way. As human beings, we need to grow and learn and develop, and in order to do that, we need to accept change that is scary. We need to move forward.
And I get it – it is difficult to accept change sometimes, especially if we are not emotionally prepared. Sometimes, we do need to make our progress slowly, to take our lives at our own pace. But we still need to keep moving. Because if we stay where we are, then nothing ever changes. If we stay where we are, we can never grow. I can be a writer even if I only take tiny steps toward it every day, but I cannot be a writer if I never try.