You know those people who seem to have it all together all of the time? The ones who know exactly where they are going and every step they need to get there?
Yeah, I'm not one of those people either.
It's kind of weird though because even if I don't know what I ought to do with my life, other people think they know. Apparently, their lives are so good, they've taken up planning other people's? Since they know the secrets to the universe, let's what they have to say:
I ought to be a school teacher.
(Ah haha. No. If only 'the system' was an entity I could strangle.)
I ought to find my true love and live happily ever after.
(Seriously? Do I look like a Disney Princess?)
I ought to stay home, wait for my true love to find me, then live happily ever after in my family's backyard.
Some people sincerely believe they know your success ought to look like. They look you in the eye and say such and such is you're calling.
While they predicting your supposed future, you gape at them and think, "Do I know you? Because you obviously don't know me."
It's a little frustrating. It's easy to let other people define our success for us. Marriage. A stable/steady job. A permanent house. Etc. Etc. It sounds safe. Realistic. Highly probable. Smart. And if anything, they do seem to know what they're talking. Who doesn't want stability? Who doesn't want job security?
So here are the problems:
1) Life is unpredictable. Stability is an illusion.
You'll go places you never thought of, do things you never dreamed of, if you keep yourself open to it. People seem to think they have to do one thing with their life, for their whole lives. That is their idea of success (which is fine).
One of my favorite examples of a full life is my clogging instructor. She was in a rock band, acted in film and theater, videoed for film and theater, taught music at a school, wrote books and songs, and of course taught clogging. She also moved from New Zealand to the US. She did a lot of things in different areas throughout her lifetime.
So don't feel like you have to box yourself in to doing one thing your whole life. If that's what you want to do, excellent. But don't believe the common lie that it's the only way to live. One day life might throw you a curve ball and you'll find yourself somewhere very different than you would've thought when you were twelve.
2) Success looks different for everyone.
As mentioned before, some people view job security as success. For some people, it's driving a mobile library around the countryside. Some don't even view success as a career decision, maybe it's volunteering, maybe it's raising a family, owning their own private library, etc and so forth.
You define your success. Find out what you want to do. You can give other people's thoughts consideration, but ultimately it's up to you. After all, you're the one who must take the steps necessary to live it out.
And don't let others' opinions hold you back. It's really easy to do that. Shooting for the stars is much more risky and precarious than staying down on earth.
Writing, my friends, is not exactly the most stable job. Some will think you're famous and rich, or going to be. Others think you'll be taking orders at the local McDonald' by next month.
So here's the thing. I talk about how I do what I want. That's because last year I realized I was letting people's opinions limit me. A lot of people don't think I can do things on my own. When people are with me, I'll let them do all the talking. I let them lead. I let them make the decisions,
and if they make stupid decisions I don't follow them and wait around until they figure out what a dumb idea they had.
But people don't see me when I'm alone (obviously). They don't realize that I am braver alone. They don't see me go out alone. Talk to people alone. Drive long distances alone. Talk on the phone. Make my own decisions,
yeah, even stupid ones.
The only limits you and I have are the limits we put on ourselves. The box we make ourselves fit into. If it wasn't for that, the world would be open to us.
So, yes, I talk about how I do what I want. It's half joking sass, half Loki reference, and all reminding myself not to let other people's opinions drag me down.
Not that I'm saying you should blow off advice. Seriously, consider advice from the right people. Advice is good. Give it a think. Basically, you have to know you.
You have to define your success. Not somebody else. Go out and make life your own. It's hard and it's scary, even if you are going for that stability that everyone wants. It's still scary. But YOU GOT THIS!
From my Christian stand point, (glad to hear you wanted to hear that), God has this. God defines me. He knows my past, my present, and my future. He is the only one with adequate knowledge to define me. As long as I go where He's leading me, I will be in a stable place. Life is turbulent, but God is my stability. He is the rock I stand on. His opinion is the only one that matters and it's the only opinion that will be true.
So here's what my 'success' looks like.
1) I want to be a freelance editor specifically geared toward indie authors. That might sound weird, and I can and probably will edit for people who are not looking to be independent authors. That's cool. But indie authors need editors. Indie authors are out there going it alone. Their stories are good, yet they need editing help. (They also need to either realize they need editing help or be motivated to spend money on editing help, but post for another day).
I want to be that editing help. I love editing and helping other people with their stories. I always see so much potential like a hidden diamond. I love helping people dig it up, polish it, and set it so it shines for everyone to see. I enjoy it almost as much as I do writing my own work.
2) I want to be an indie author. Yes, it does scare me. I'm not a business person. I have no idea how to market. Anything that has to do with finances, paperwork, and tedious administrative work bores me to death.
But being independently published got stuck in my head a couple years back. Learning how to do it myself. Collaborating with awesome designers for cover art. Having an editor look at my work for mistakes and suggestions (yes, I need someone else's professional help too; I'm not an idiot). I've envisioned it for so long I can't see myself doing it differently. The indie book industry has a bad rep for poorly written books. I want to change that both with my own writing and with helping others authors. I want to provide excellent books and give indie authors a good name.
Also, independently publishing will be more satisfying for me personally. I'll be more pleased with myself if I can be heavily involved in the creation of my novel.
True, I know I will probably need to get part time jobs and such, here and there. I'm not a Disney princess, remember? I'm realistic about this.
In conclusion, I have no conclusion. So here's a Loki and Thor from pinterest, because you know. . . *smirks*
What does YOUR success look like? What do you want to do? Do you have any strange stories of what people expect you to do with your future?