Twelve years ago I graduated high school. Coming from a rural area there was not much emphasis on the creative as a means of income (apart from being a high school art teacher). I wanted to write stories and there wasn’t really much out there to help me do it. I had even gone to my guidance counsellor to help me get a real job.
But look at me now. I’m living in Scotland when I thought I’d never leave Australia. I had picked one of the more difficult life choices a person could make. The arts fields are always difficult to succeed in, let alone make money. But I’m slowing pushing out stories and I know it’s only a matter of time before I gain traction.
I think back to when I first finished school, I wonder how many people thought that I wouldn’t or couldn’t achieve my dreams. I also think about the life journeys my classmates (the ones I have kept track of) have made in the decade since. Some have become what they wanted, while others haven’t had their dreams materialise. Then there are those who have changed paths and become something completely different. But all are within the realm of real jobs and nothing that seems overly difficult.
The more I think about it, the more I can’t believe I’ve made it so far. I amaze myself. What would my life be if I never went to the counselor’s office or chosen to take a different path? Out of all the paths people could choose, I’m making headway in one that heads along a difficult trail.
Back in high school in grade eight, we had an assignment that included a thing about what we wanted to do with ourselves. It asked us what we wanted to be when we grow up? I think I thought a lot about it. But from memory I couldn’t think of anything else but to be a writer. I didn’t know anyone else who wanted to be like me either and growing up where I did it wasn’t considered a ‘real job’, but I continued to want to write.
Over the following decade I have seen my former school and university peers have children, enter a more professional work environment, buy a house, settle down as you will. But I didn’t follow that path. While I entered into a marriage, within months of that I had moved overseas to Scotland. It was both a big change and something I have taken in my stride.
To support myself, as I do not want to be dependant upon another person, I was able to get jobs in the hospitality industry. At 26 quiet a few people not in this industry might think it belittling or unworthy of their time to be working in such a place. But I have a job next to where I live and am able to live within my means, plus save up to be able to take holidays all over Europe 🙂 I am also able to work around the shifts I have to maintain my health and work on my books 🙂
In private my husband has been encouraging me to think about getting a higher paying job, but the industries put forward are places I would do poorly in. I would either financially destroy people without meaning to or I would endanger their health. Honesty I’m just not good in situations of high even moderate levels of stress. Not to mention that I can be extremely laid back (aka lazy) with things I don’t particularly care about. It’s just the person I am and choose to be through my actions.
I wonder what is the overall point of a high paying job anyway? I don’t spend a lot and I choose not to run with a crowd that values money or how much a person earns over other things. I’m pretty minimalist and if I’m not spending much money then what am I doing wasting hours and days of my life for the benefit of others while at the decline of my own creative ability? I didn’t do a degree in arts and creative writing to further myself just to put it aside and take out every second weekend. I did it to write. And to write often. At the end of the day I would regret limiting my writing for the sake of job that sucks up my time, energy and motivation.
I know in terms of my future people will wonder what about having a safety net? Well I have it. I live in first world country that provides for its citizens as they do for it. Overall I will be fine. I also do have savings and I’m not financially irresponsible. I have a good enough sense of ‘What if this bad thing happens’ and ‘This doesn’t seem like a good idea’ to mostly stop me from doing stupid things.
Some people will ask, ‘but do you want to do this for ever?’ And my answer is not entirely. I many work in this for years. Or I may end up somewhere else. I don’t know where life will take me. But I can guide it quite fine. I position myself in a way that means if I do get into strife then I wont be too affected. So it is not the path others do, expect or want to me to tread. It doesn’t matter. I am able to look after myself to the point where I can chase after my dream of being able to write.
But then why does it matter to other people?
A variety of reasons. They may think my actions will negatively affect them. They might not want me to become a burden to them, and I hope that I don’t. To be thought of as only someone else’s responsibility does not make me feel good about myself. Another might be that they never had the courage to diverge from the standard path themselves and it makes them feel jealous, worthless, threatened, or all of the above. It takes a special type of personality to have the balls to go after their dreams, especially if it doesn’t fit in with the status quo. And disrupting the status quo can really rub people the wrong way. That type of situation can be dangerous, people will try to put you down for having dreams, wanting to be something. Because having dreams makes you special, makes you stand out. If you come across people or situations like that run away if you can, and if you can’t find a way.