I love the scene in Girl, Interrupted where Susanna is discussing her future with an administrator at her school and the woman says, “May I ask what you plan to do?” When Susanna responds with, “I plan to write”, the lady gives her the most obnoxious side-eye and (with an unnecessary amount of sass) says, “But what do you plan to do”. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that.
If you’re pursuing a career as a writer, musician, artist, filmmaker, or anything else that doesn’t provide the promise of a steady paycheck, you’re going to get a lot of shit for it. Our passions are often brushed off as hobbies and people make assumptions about our “grasp on reality” or the probability of making a lucrative living.
You can only chase these types of dreams if you want them badly. And what sets you apart from everyone else that claims to do what you do is your willingness to struggle for it. Your willingness to fail a thousand times and be underestimated but still go after it with the same level of passion. Even though in the moment it’s hard to see past the frustration or that lust for success, that type of discipline and that type of work is shaping you into a stronger and more resilient person.
No matter what your career choice is, if you’re serious about it, it’s going to require a lot of work. You have to hone your skills to not only become great at what you do, but to become in demand in your field. There’s a lot to be said about the strength and willpower that it takes to go after something and not know how it’ll end.
We’re not working to become doctors or lawyers. There’s no map or outline for what we do. There’s no set end game. It’s a lot of taking blows and adapting from them. We have to be malleable. We have to learn to roll with the punches.
I didn’t know I liked writing until senior year of high school. I didn’t know I loved it until college. Though I have experienced more disappointment pursuing my career than any of my corporate or medically trained friends, it’s been a rush. Those small victories of seeing something you produced out in the world make it worth it.
The beauty of what we do is that there is no set end game. The end game is whatever the hell you make it.