I’m sitting in bed next to my boyfriend while he studies for his finals in his second year of law school. I scroll through my Facebook feed on my laptop, seeing updates of my friends’ post-grad successes, like a form of voyeurism that will only make me hate myself in comparison. Jody is attending another law school mixer. Angelica will be free to talk to me on Wednesday when she has a day off from her grad school classes at USC. Nikki just posted a picture of the Christmas tree in her apartment in New York City. Every day I see another person from my graduating class adding their new job to their Facebook profile, or Instagram a picture of their freshly-printed business cards tagged at the company they’re working for (usually something hip like a startup in San Francisco—yeah, we know you have a fun job, thanks for rubbing it in everyone’s faces).
Meanwhile, I procrastinate and read every article about race or feminism that pops up on my feed, or hell, even watch a video recapping the latest episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians. I instant message chat with my nine-year-old sister. I go through the photos on my Google Drive to free up more storage space. I’ll do anything I possibly can to avoid facing my fears and actually revive the blogs I’ve built (and gradually abandoned) over the past two years, like I told everyone I would after I finished college.
It’ll be better when I won’t have to focus on school and I’ll have so much time to write.
I’d have more time to write if I didn’t have to wake up at 5am for a part time job that makes me exhausted and miserable.
I’ve been making up these excuses for months about why I can’t write and how life gets in the way, and I see myself slipping into a 9 to 5 job that doesn’t suit me—and in turn, to mediocrity—because I’m afraid that if I actually try to make it as a professional writer, I will fail.
Trying to make a living off of my creative skill is a privilege, yet incredibly terrifying.
Don’t get me wrong—I know I’m not an utter failure (yet). I graduated from college in four years, which is probably more than most people my age can say for themselves, and I’m fortunate enough not be in debt either (loved ones remind me of this repeatedly when I break down about how unhappy I am with my life, and this is my mantra to keep myself from spiraling into depression). I’m grateful to have the luxury of pursuing my passion even though I don’t know if I’ll make any money.
But the stakes are still high. I’m scared that nobody will care about what I have to say—or worse, that they’ll think I’m either too shallow or too radical based on my content, and I freeze up, too anxious to write at all. I’m scared that I’ll become the broken link in a chain of four generations of journalists, the end of a legacy. I’m scared that I don’t have what it takes to follow in my dad’s footsteps, that I don’t have the drive to work for myself. I’m scared that I’ll fall so far behind and watch everyone else in my life excel professionally while I chase a dream that may never come true.
But what scares me even more is regret—that I’ll let my excuses and fears control me, and that I’ll wake up one day stuck at a job I hate, wondering how my life would have turned out if I’d only taken a few hours a day to push myself into writing again, instead of comparing myself to the appearance of success my friends had online.
I often have to remind myself that no matter what people post about on social media, or what path they take professionally, nobody really knows what they’re doing at 22. We’re all just trying to figure out who we are, and I owe it to myself to listen to my gut and take advantage of the opportunity I’ve been given to take the risk of following my dreams, to be brave and at least try.