I Have No Idea What I’m Doing

Motivation & Inspiration

This seems to be a disturbing trend of my twenties and even though those who are older and wiser have told me that being scared and confused is what your twenties is all about…I just can’t accept it. I need to be in control. I need my plans to pan out. I need to know myself and what I want. And I don’t. Not completely.

For the past five years I’ve been driven by dreams and by my relentless fear of having an ordinary life. I thought school was the answer. I thought writing was the answer. I thought money was the answer. But none of those things have given me the kind of success or security I’d hoped for. And for a long time I decided to just wait it out, to work in another job that didn’t fulfill me spiritually and didn’t pay me what I deserved, and to just write as much as I possibly could until one day something stuck. But I’m six novels in and I’m still not earning enough to make writing my full-time career. And I’m tired of waiting.

Maybe I’m not supposed to have all the answers in my twenties but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be proactive about finding them. My dream is to be a novelist but from now on I won’t allow that to be my only dream. I am smart and I am capable and I am ready for a new challenge. I’m ready for a new life. So, while I’ll still write every day, I’ve also decided to go back to school to get my master’s degree in education. I love books and there is so much more I can be doing in this world to contribute to the spread of literacy and love of reading. Great stories save and our young people need that now more than ever. They need righteous examples of faith and strong will. They need to be exposed to ideas that both inspire and challenge. They need to read. They need to write. To organize their thoughts and analyze their emotions and form opinions that can’t be easily swayed. Reading breeds empathy but writing breeds independence and teens in today’s world desperately need both.

I’ve always tried to write with these things in mind and to approach each story as a means of making my readers feel connected and acknowledged but there is only so much I can do from behind my keyboard. Even with access to the internet the reach of my novels is still limited. If I really want to make a difference then I’m going to have to step outside my comfort zone and join the fight for literacy on the front lines. I’m not sure if I’ll be a great teacher, or even a good one, but I know I’ve got the passion to try. I know I’m meant to make a difference in the lives of young people, and whether that’s through my novels or through teaching, that’s exactly what I plan to do.

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The Optimist

Mental Health

I’ve always considered my unwavering optimism to be something of a superpower (along with my strangely perceptive sense of smell–not necessarily something to brag about, though it has saved my life in a dive bar or two) but the older I get the harder it is to maintain. The harder it is to believe, to hope, and even worse to dream. My dreams are everything to me. They’re not just desires but promises, promises I’ve made to myself and promises I always knew I’d keep because no one ever told me otherwise. I never doubted myself. I never had any reason to. But when you’re a teenager that feeling of “immortality” is sort of unshakeable. Fast forward a few years though and not only do you realize how very very wrong you’ve been about death and life and success and happiness and responsibility and fear and the future but you also realize how very wrong you’ve been about yourself. One day you will wake up and realize that you don’t know you. Or at least not anymore. And one day you will be terrified.

Today I am terrified. Because today I have decided to stop living in the anticipation of my dreams, I have decided to do the grown-up thing and be responsible. And it sucks. Because it’s unfamiliar. Because it’s kind of scary. I don’t want to be responsible. I don’t want to have to choose between working and living. I don’t want to have to choose anything at all if it isn’t writing. But today I’ve seen the first glimpse of the adult I’m becoming and that adult knows that passion can only take you so far and that passion at the expense of responsibility is pointless and selfish and wrong. And as much as I want to maintain my signature optimism, I can’t help but feel like it’s just another remnant from my childhood that I’ll eventually have to shed for good. Or maybe it’ll be stripped away. Stolen. And not all at once, but even worse, in pieces. In small, almost imperceptible pieces that I won’t even realize I’ve lost until it’s too late.

Walking The Walk

Self Publishing

So I did it. I quit my day job. Unfortunately it wasn’t because my books are selling like hot cakes and I’m suddenly a millionaire. That’s still in the works. But the real reason I had to quit my job is because I’m moving. Again. After almost two years of living in Florida I’ll be moving back to Texas this summer and I can’t exactly pack up my cubicle and take it with me. Not that I’d want to. Besides, it’s time for a change.

In fact, the big unknown that’s been hovering on my horizon feels sort of prophetic all of the sudden.

I’m not sure what it is. That I’m older. That I’m, in a sense, going home (well, six hours east of home). That I don’t have to spend my days analyzing data any more. That I can breathe.

Of course, some days, there’s a part of me that’s still terrified of the unknown. But most days it’s all I have to look forward to. Because even though it’s not the new start I’d been hoping for—you know making the switch to being a full time writer—it’s still a new beginning nonetheless. And that’s exciting. Because even though I’ve always believed that I’m in control of my own destiny, that everything I do today is taking me one step closer to the future I want, to the future I deserve, something about moving, about starting over in a new place, gives that philosophy a whole new fervency.

And so I’ve decided…I’m going to give myself some time. Before I look for another job, I’m going to spend a few months trying out that whole full-time author gig. Because I want to. Because I’m young. Because it’s time to be brave and walk the walk. Because I’ve been saving my money from every birthday and Christmas over the past decade for nothing in particular. And now that I finally have a reason to use it, it feels like this huge gift. The commitment I’ve made to this dream of mine, to myself, it’s a gift. Truly. And that’s how I know it’s right. Because my soul is happy and because nothing is more important than the gift’s we give ourselves.

So I’ll spend the next four months in front of my laptop, at some desk in an apartment I haven’t found yet, or in some random coffee shop, or the public library, and in the midst of swatting away every fear—that I’m wasting my time, that I’m wasting my money, that I’m selfish, that I suck—I’ll be writing. Every day. All day. I’ll be writing. And even with the risk, that still sounds absolutely perfect.

22

Motivation & Inspiration

Yesterday was my 22nd birthday and it was supposed to be different. I was supposed to have fun, indulge a little, go on an adventure. But then my radiator busted and my battery died and I almost had a heart attack swiping my debit card to pay the bill. And I realized something. Even with moving to a new place, with being young and still slightly hopeful despite all life’s thrown at me, this was not the year of having an adventure. Screw my expectations. This was not the year of having the time of my life. This was the year of growing up. So to mark such a special occasion here is the culmination of my twenty-one-year-old insights–from the cheesy to the over-dramatic to the disappointingly true.

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