I’ve been thinking a lot lately about following dreams and not just because I’ve had a wack of really weird dreams lately – that’s another post…
Following one’s dream is a tricky business – like walking through a bog – your feet ever searching for something solid. Often all they find is a seeping, sucking hole of primordial ick. Terra firma becomes the most elusive of things.
Following your dream involves risks and sacrifices; the journey never occurs without consequences to yourself and the ones around you – especially loved ones. Personally, I’ve encountered the same resistance, the same questions about writing nearly my entire life. The questions go something like this: Why would you want to do this? Why don’t you do something less risky? Wouldn’t it be better to be more secure? Isn’t safe better? And the real kickers: How do you know you’re any good? What if you fail?
In the past, I would stick my toe in the sticky, oozy mud but I always allowed the naysayers, the doubters, and the “voices of reason” to pull me out. I’m in the bog again, determined to find my own way out this time.
Guilt hides around every corner in this bog. Self-doubt trips me up like a thousand submerged tree roots. The choice I’ve made to pursue writing before all else affects everything I do. My decision has affected my family in a big way – especially financially. Their doubts about the wisdom of what I do permeates the air like a moist blanket sometimes. A fog in the bog, if you’ll pardon me. Gosh, if you could ask for anything when slogging through a bog, wouldn’t it be an absence of fog?
I don’t know what my greatest fear is: disappointing those who believe in me or hearing the “I told you so’s” from those who don’t. It’s not easy to be accused of not pulling my weight or contributing to the bottom line. It’s not easy to hear those close to you call you crazy or worse, selfish.
Ah, selfish. There’s an interesting word. Word on the street is that no one else can make you happy. This leads to the obvious conclusion that only I can make myself happy. Ergo, my happiness is my responsiblity. Then, lo and behold, making myself happy makes me..selfish.
Can a wee banshee catch a break here?
Pursing one’s dream in the foggy bog is scary and lonely. I have spent night after night staring into the murky water around me wondering if I’m going in the right direction. No one else can help me. Even when I’m feeling supported and encouraged, I realize that I am the writer. No one can help me form the words. It’s a solitary process. Loved ones often feel excluded or shut out. Feelings of exclusion lead to resentment which leads to recriminations and accusations of…you guessed it…selfishness.
Part of the problem with writing is that writing anything (even a blog) takes time. Writers toil in their respective bogs with no assurances that all of their hard work will ever be published or read by anyone other than an unnaturally literate cat. (Eventually you find out the cat wasn’t interested at all; he was just trying to get warm).
So when I hear the oft-repeated question of WHY? I can’t answer it although I ask myself that very question. Writing has become of paramount importance to me. I truly feel that nothing, save my heart ceasing to beat, can stop me. This type of focus is unfamiliar and scary to me. My passion has made me brave (or foolhardy); I have stood up to doubters. I have declared my intentions with uncharacteristic clarity – and put everything I love at risk. My behaviour makes no sense to those who stand on higher ground with money in something called a retirement account. My refusal to leave the bog causes universal confusion and consternation.
I will find success here in the bog if I have to grow webbed feet to do it. I will be happy in my choices because I know they are best for me. If I allow someone else to dictate my choices, I am no longer…myself. I can’t do that anymore. The air is thick and foul here in the bog. Sometimes it’s hard to breathe. Yet, I know that if I just keep feeling my way, one tiny step at a time, firmer ground is out there somewhere.