The beginning of a new year always gets me feeling Some Kind of Way, thinking about dreams and goals and failures and successes, and about things not going the way I had planned. As you may or may not know, the past few years have gone in a lot of wild directions for me. Plans changed, rugs got pulled out from under me, dreams got postponed and altered and put on hold.
It’s taken me a long time to start to come to terms with the fact that you can’t count on your life going just the way you planned it. And even more importantly, that you don’t need your life to go just as planned in order to feel happy and challenged and fulfilled. I have spent a lot of time putting off plans or dreams or ambitions because the time wasn’t right yet. If I just had more money, more security, a more flexible job, more education, more confidence, if I lived in the right city, knew the right people, and had enough social media followers, then I could do The Thing and Make Great Art. I just had to wait for the stars to align. But the stars don’t always align. And you don’t need them to. That’s really just an excuse.
Everyone’s life is going to be full of setbacks and challenges and circumstances they didn’t expect and can’t control. The thing to do is not to hinge your dream and your art on a narrow set of circumstances that are outside your control. Can you not move to a big city right now? Did you not get into grad school? Are you stuck in a job that you don’t like and you feel trapped? That sucks. But it’s going to be okay. You’ve got to do what you can with what you have where you are. Make your art even if it’s not as glamorous as you thought it was going to be. You’re still a writer even if you’re just writing for your own blog. You’re still an actor even if you’re just making your own films from your bedroom with a camera you bought online. It’s scary to make your art when you don’t feel ready and it might not come out perfect, but it’s so much scarier to never make it at all. Because putting your dreams on hold hurts, and too often it turns into putting your dreams away and abandoning them. I don’t want that for me, and I don’t want it for you. I’d rather be nervous than sad, and I’d rather feel insecure than hopeless. So I encourage you this year to do that thing you’ve been waiting to do. Even if you don’t feel ready yet.