“Life is about making an impact, not making an income.” – Kevin Kruse
Following your dreams isn’t always easy in a world that seems to revolve around money. Many people abandon their passions because they simply need to pay their bills. But what if your dreams turned into a way to pay your bills down the road? It’s impossible to predict unless you refuse to give up on what gives your heart joy and your soul purpose.
When I was a little kid I wrote diligently in diaries. I went through a lot of trauma early in life and the blank page became my therapist, friend, and savior. Eventually the diary entries turned into poetry. Then the poetry evolved into stories and screenplays when I entered college. What began as a diary entry led me to achieving my goal of a college and post-college education despite all of the adversity that could have easily led me astray.
As a college student, my choice to major in English was admired by some and laughed at by others. My peers couldn’t understand why I would choose a major that involved writing so many papers and reading so many novels and thick literary anthologies. They couldn’t understand that in those classes is where I was most at home and in my element. I looked forward to them and dreaded most of the other required courses.
Others asked over and over again “But what are you going to do with an English degree?” with concern wrinkling their brows. I smiled and said “I’m going to write”. This response elicited further wrinkling of their brows. I would defend my choice of major by listing all of the practical careers I could pursue like teaching or point out articles like this one about writing which states that “97 percent of executives rate strong writing skills as either absolutely essential or very important”. Most people would give a sympathetic nod and walk off with a shrug of their shoulders.
Those naysayers had a right to be concerned about my employment future. Writers, after all, are often referred to as starving artists despite the fact that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that freelance writers earn a median salary of approximately $55,000 per year. But despite the popular term of starving artist describing my future, I had things to say and a passion that could not be persuaded. Writing was everything and it pulled me up out of the mud growing up and eventually placed me in a cap and gown. I felt I was born to write, although I wasn’t sure how or where this would play out financially.
After graduate school, the naysayers got to me. Years of negative responses and doubts overshadowed my passion. I briefly abandoned writing. I worked at jobs that paid the bills and told myself I wasn’t meant to be a writer. I started to believe I wasn’t talented or good enough. When anyone asked why I wasn’t writing I would reply that I didn’t feel inspired and doubted anyone would care about what I had to say. Besides, I was busy with life and bills and living a life.
Eventually, I had so much built up inside of me that I needed to express that I turned to blogging. When I began the same doubts about anyone caring enough to read what I wrote in the already congested blog world remained front and center in my mind. After all, in 2013 alone there were an estimated 152 million blogs on the internet. But I was doing this for me and for the few who might care and need to hear what I had to say. Slowly but surely I gained a small following and received the kind of feedback that silenced the voice telling me I was wasting my time for good.
I have continued to write articles over the years and have branched out to many different kinds of sites that have featured my work. I am always honored that someone carves out a little space for what I wrote among their own writing. Very recently I was published on a site that was once a magazine I loved as a kid. I loved it so much as a kid that I wrote a letter to the editor asking how i could grow up and be one of their writers. Seeing my article on their site was truly a full circle moment. Shortly afterwards I found myself published on one of my dream sites- Huffington Post. I was so overwhelmed with happiness that I cried. It felt like that little girl with her stacks of diaries and poems was finally being acknowledged, validated, and celebrated.
I am by no means a famous or even mildly famous author. I am not wealthy but I make money doing what I love. Granted, it’s not much but it’s enough to make me smile when I hear the words starving artist. My passion in life to reach others through my writing is being fulfilled even if on a small scale. I find inspiration in women that bring about change through their work, like this list of amazing women. I might be a tiny fish compared to them but I’m living my dream nonetheless and this breaks my future wide open. Possibilities and hope are a beautiful thing.
So whatever it is that you love to do, whatever it is that ignites your soul- reach for it. Reach past the doubts of others and your own doubts. You deserve a life filled with meaning where money isn’t king. You deserve to make an impact in a way that would make that little kid you used to be look up from their guitar or notepad and smile.