"When you're a kid, everyone encourages you to follow your dreams. But when you're older, somehow they act offended if you even try"
Looking back, I think my problems started when I was about four years old. See, I believed my parents, and grandparents, and teachers, and all the other adults who told me I could be anything I wanted to be.
I’ve never been able to shake that self-belief, which has led me to lofty ambitions that will take crazy amounts of time and hard work to accomplish. But for some reason I can’t quite explain, I wholeheartedly believe I can accomplish great things, as long as I let go of my fear and go after my dreams.
Sadly, not everyone agrees. In fact, most people don’t. When you come from a little suburban town like I do, it’s encouraged to play it safe. Get a steady paycheck, a decent place to live, and everything else is supposed to fall into place. But what does that leave for people like me, who find the idea of doing the same job and living in the same place for the next fifty years to be beyond suffocating? What does the cookie cutter image of what I’m supposed to do offer someone like me, who wants none of it?
I don’t dream about getting engaged, or having babies. I dream about my first byline, getting my first book published, writing my first script. I’m definitely not knocking people who want the more traditional path- everyone has goals, and no one person’s goals are better than another’s. If your dream is to be a wife and mother, I encourage you to go after that with reckless abandon. If your dream is something a bit more out-there, like mine, I say there’s no time like the present. Stop waiting or you’ll always wonder.
My family has my best interests at heart when they subtly and politely discourage my big dreams. All they want is for me to be happy and safe. What I can’t seem to express to them, however, is that happiness is never going to reach me from a 9-5 in a tiny town. For plenty of people that’s enough, and I often wish it were enough for me, too. It would certainly be easier. But it’s not, and that’s why I’m determined to go after the things I want, even if I’m the only one backing me up.
People are going to tell you what you should do with your life. They’re going to tell you to take the first job with a decent paycheck. But those people don’t have to live with your choices, you do. So if you feel stifled by your surroundings, change them. If you want to pursue a career that seems unconventional and off the safely beaten path, do it if it’s what gives you life. It may take years of sleep deprivation and rejection, but doing what you love will be worth it. If you want to pack up and move and live paycheck to paycheck because you just know, in your heart, that one day it will pay off- do it. Because it’s far better to try and fail than to wake up in twenty years trapped in a life too small for you.