"You have all you need to succeed!"
You can say it as many times as you want, but I still won't believe it.
A fellow writer commented on my last post about leading an unconventional career path. It got me thinking.
You want it, you will have it. You have all you need to lead [an] unconventional life.
I have it all? That’s nice to hear. I don't believe it. It still felt good to hear.
Why? I want validation that what I am doing is possible. I want validation that I will be able to make enough money to live a life that I want to live while creating impact. I’m struggling with that.
I’m a person that feels pretty confident in their abilities. I recognize my value and my weaknesses. And I think I have a solid mental model for what I’m capable of. Nonetheless, I’m not immune to feeling that I can’t achieve my dreams of an independent career — one in which I live where I want with the people I love and help individuals flourish on my own terms.
Sometimes, I feel like an impostor. I feel like I don't deserve attention for my writing. I don't deserve to "hit" the algorithm. When I look at people who have made it big on YouTube, Medium, and other creator outlets, I feel distant from the dream. Like it could never be me who lives out my aspirations of my favorite creators. I can’t help but ask it —
Why not me?
I’ve been asking myself that question a lot recently. I think it’s a sign that I’m breaking down the barriers that used to hold me in. A sign that I am adapting my worldview to reality. A sign that I’m heading in the right direction. Still, it's hard enough to look yourself in the mirror and believe you can do it — never mind saying it to others. I'm not going to hide anymore.
Ordinary courage is about putting our vulnerability on the line. In today’s world, that’s pretty extraordinary - Brene Brown
To be honest, it's really scary for me to tell the world my plan. To tell the world that I want to be a creator. Even writing that last sentence made me cringe — I had a weird feeling in my stomach that I get whenever I feel exposed. There was a point in my life when I would have run away from that feeling. Now I chase it.
As I think about this aspirational life, I keep returning to an idea that I wish I had proven to myself before heading to college: that I could have made a living doing what I love without a college degree. I wish I was more prepared.
The other night, I went to an interview with co-founder of GrubHub, Mike Evans. "All the classes you take, people you meet, podcasts you listen to — everything you do to prepare. That's 49% of success," he told us. "The other 51%? It's getting started."
I'll never feel prepared. But if I wait for that certainty, I'll never get started. Today, I am writing for the people who feel like me — the people that feel uncertain about chasing their dream. So, here are the three lessons I'm carrying with me on my journey.
It's worth fighting for
The first is that although I feel (hell, I know) that I could make enough money by doing what I love, I struggle to believe it. This is the first time I’ve admitted to myself that I could make enough money doing what I love.
I may be wrong, but this is an idea that I believe in so much that I’d rather fail trying to actualize it than "succeed" by avoiding it.
The second is that so many of us keep chasing what we think is “enough” without ever defining it. In The Pathless Path, author Paul Millerd describes how he set out to define what was “enough.”
Enough is knowing that no amount in my bank account will ever satisfy my deepest fears. It’s knowing that I have enough friends that would gladly open their door and share a meal if I was ever in need… enough is having meaningful conversations with people that inspire me, people that I love, or people that support me.
There comes a point when we realize that it's a human feature to never stop wanting. You won't suddenly be happy when you achieve X. You won't be satisfied once you finish Y. If we don't define what's enough, it won't exist. I am still working on determining my "enough", but I think Millerd’s definition gives us a good starting point.
You need the right mindset
The third is that I don’t have the right mindset. There’s a letter from Seneca in which he jokingly calls out the people who go on vacation to ease their nerves only to be just as anxious. His reasoning: you can’t escape your own mind. While you can look towards a distant future and think how comfortable you’ll be, I can tell you that you won’t be.
Mindset is everything. And if I don’t have a mindset in which I am comfortable of the ups and downs of college, I won’t be comfortable in the real world trying to keep up with my expenses.
For my whole life, I didn’t need to think about the logistics of my life. My parents took care of that for me. Now, I’m looking it right in the face. So many people have looked at this discomfort in the face and ran away from it. Not me. Because in this moment, I’m deciding that I’m leading my own life — one in which I make a living doing what I love. I know it’s possible. Seriously — why not me? And I hope, by now, you're asking yourself this same question.