It’s a very intimate premise to write about, but something that everyone really needs to think about if they’re trying to make something of themselves. Firstly, no one really wants to ask a question like this, because it means weighing your pros and cons, your quality and progress of your learning, and analyzing yourself as unbiased as you can; which is downright impossible. Secondly, when you do analyze yourself, how do you know your bias isn’t leaning you to be overcritical, and how do you know what the truth really is? But here I am, making the effort, just because. If anything, I’d like to think this qualifies me as brave.
Let’s start from the beginning. I miss being a kid. I miss not having to worry about what my future had in store, and just going around being happy with my games and friends and family. Now that I think about it, I don’t really remember when I crossed this line. When did I decide that the future was important and I had to stop slacking off? Certainly not in highschool (oh god that makes me feel old). Probably somewhere amidst the sleepless nights with nothing to do; but I hate how vague the transition was. It’s not something you really expect, you know?
As a kid, you see older people and think they’re a completely different species. You think they’re mature and grown-up, and you just assume they’ve always been a grown-up. You don’t realize that there was a point in their lives too, when they were just carefree kids like you are now. And as you age, you understand that it’s not the number of years that makes you different. It’s you. It’s you coming to realization with the fact that the world isn’t the safe haven your parents made it out to be, and if you don’t buck up now, you’re going to be a loser.
So why do I feel so empty sometimes? Why do I feel wrong and stupid when no one’s calling me these things? On one hand, I should be happy that I came to this realization earlier than most people, but on the other hand, did I really? Other people who walked this path and succeeded… how far along were they when they were my age? Am I already too late to catch up? I guess these are silly things to worry about at 20 from the perspective of older people, but please understand that for someone who’s 20 years old, 20 is the oldest I’ve ever been, and every day I live is another day I’ll never get back. 20 is 20 times older than my earliest memory.
And it’s not just about the age. I mean, even at this point and probably even several years younger, aspiring authors were probably already pushing out quality work (and this goes for any “dream” profession, whether it be music or what have you). How do I know I’m on track, quality-wise? How do I know I should keep trying, and that I even have a fair shot at this?
You can go to fanfiction or fictionpress, or any other writing website out there, and you can literally see hundreds of thousands of individual works, all made by people who have the same dreams as I. I don’t see how that doesn’t intimidate someone. To believe that you’re going to rise above every other person out there trying to do it is absurdly optimistic and maybe even arrogant, and it’s just not me. I hate belittling others, and to base my life around a career where I have to keep pushing myself and believe that I can be better than everyone else is destroying who I am. But I have to do it… right? If you don’t believe in yourself, why should anyone else?
But it’s a hard front to pull off. It’s hard to be confident when you don’t know what others really think of your work. You either have friends who want to make you happy, even unknowingly, or you have anons who would criticize the writing from a page of Harry Potter if you changed the names and told them it was yours (I did this once, and it was hilarious).
I don’t know. I guess, I just don’t want to be a failure. For every J.K. Rowling out there who got rejected a dozen times and then published the book that made her the richest author in the world, there are probably a million authors out there who got rejected a dozen times, and then once more. How do you know you’re not one of the million? Sometimes I feel like the world’s closing in on me, and the only way out is to just accept it.
I love my book, I really do, but I’m sure every writer feels this way. Sometimes I wonder if I should’ve done something safer with my life, like gone to business school or IT, but then I know I would never be happy. But I’d rather be unhappy than starving in some back alley working as a barista.
Looking back at this post, I did nothing I said I would in the first paragraph. I guess I wasn’t so brave after all… but, when the first thing I’m going to do after this is keep working on my book, I’d like to think that constitutes me as braver than a lot of people. What keeps me going is knowing that published authors were just like me at some point, and that maybe someday I’ll see my book on the bookshelves and on the best seller lists, and if I’m extremely lucky, I’ll see it on the big screen. God… that would be nice.