On Taking Risks and the Fear of Falling

I want to be a writer.

I know there are only a handful who make it, but they do. I like to believe that nothing is impossible; and that the world needs writers. New ideas. New perspectives. A constantly expanding cultural body of thought. Could I possibly be one of these people? After all, there’s only one way to find out.

“You can make it!”a small yet determined voice whispers to me in my sleep. It’s a voice that keeps me going, that gives what I do purpose, that pushes me towards new goals and achievements. “It won’t be easy but it’ll be worth it.” I keep repeating this to myself like a personal mantra. Nothing is impossible.

I keep reminding myself that I have opportunities. As a writer, the internet seems to open so many doors every day. All I have to do is take hold of what is right in front of me, right? But then I realise that what is easily there for me, is also there for everyone.

The truth is I’m scared. What if the idealism, the belief and the determination aren’t enough in the end? How could I possibly be one of these few people that will make it through this great sea of voices and thoughts? There are just so many of them –so many great minds with dreams and ideas just like me. Isn’t it arrogant to believe that I am any better than everyone else, that I could actually stick out? I don’t pretend to know more about this world than the rest of us. In fact, I still have a million things to learn.

Returning home from university, I open my laptop. Facebook tells me that Anna started an internship at yet another renowned news agency, and that Laura made the shortlist for one of the few coveted literary scholarships in the country. How do they do it?

As I absentmindedly scroll down my news feed, I compile a list of my own achievements in my head. Am I trying hard enough?

Just as my mind is about to tumble, a hushed voice reassuringly calms me down: “You want to be a writer. You knew it wasn’t going to be easy.”

I do want to be a writer.

Although sometimes, I wish I didn’t. Sometimes, I wish I’d seek a secured 9 to 5 job like most of the people I know. Then I look at all those around me: my family, friends, the strangers on the daily commute and I try to picture what their lives look like. I gaze at the man in the grey suit sitting across from me on the train, staring through the smudgy window as the last rays of sunshine blur into the cloudy sky above Hamburg. I wonder if he is happy, if he finds satisfaction in what he does every day. I wonder who he goes home to. If he has a wife and kids waiting for him when he gets there. I imagine what he will say to his daughter when she grows up. What about his ideals? Have they changed over the years? Maybe he wanted to be a soccer player when he was little, or a doctor, or an astronaut. Or maybe he wanted to be a writer, like me.

We have so many big dreams and ideas when we are young. But there comes a time when it’s no longer cute wanting to be a princess or a soccer star. A time when it’s no longer admirable wanting to be a writer. It’s a time when puerile ideas are expected to turn into responsible thinking and deliberation.

The thing is, no one ever tells you about this time or when it comes, it just does at some point. It’s when we realise that adults start giving us a knowing wink instead of the enthusiastic smile we used to get when we were little. “Well, do you have a Plan B then? Surely you realise that a literary career is a very risky industry to set foot in?”

Why do we do that? Why do we suddenly walk all over each other’s dreams like they’re no longer worth seeking? And why are most of us willing to give up on them so easily? I know that we live in a world in which not everyone can be a princess, or a famous soccer player, or a movie star, an astronaut, a doctor, or a writer. But there are some people that do make it.

So instead of doubting and holding each other back, why not start encouraging one another to follow our passions and bring out the best in each other? We have so much potential, our futures don’t have to be all black and white. We can do anything.

I still want to be a writer.

I need the uncertainty, as much as the triumph of knowing that I accomplish something every day. I know it won’t be easy, but I’m trying nonetheless. Because after all, nothing is impossible.

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  1. I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was 10 years old. And I was. Because I wrote. A lot of junk, a lot of garbled teenage angst, a lot of insecure 20-year-old stuff, a lot of honing my writing voice in my 30’s, a lot of disciplined, break-the-rules work in my 40’s, and in my 50’s, I’m published (and will be again soon). I wrote, and most of my work is unpublished because I lacked the confidence and, sometimes, even the hope of being any good. I put the notebook and pen aside for almost five years, frustrated that I was lacking the drive to keep going. It’s a heartbreaking path, full of disappointments and discouragement. But you do it because you love it and can’t imagine not doing it. And it pays off for some in terms of sales, but more important, it pays off that voice in your head that says you want to be a writer. And then you realize you ARE! All the very best of luck. If it’s in your heart to write, then write, and still that voice that makes you only wish you could. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your story – your words put a smile on my face right now. I’m so excited to be able to go on this beautiful journey of words and to find out where it will take me 🙂

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