In your mid-20s, social settings aren’t all that different from when you were an undergrad.
Meeting new people still revolves around that basic, introductory conversation where you each reveal what you do or where you're from.
Regardless of which stage you're in, right off the bat, you are expected to present yourself in terms of what your tangible goals are. College’s version of this painstakingly stale chat was, of course, "So what’s your major?"
It was an even more peculiar arena than the average 20-something dinner party, because in theory, everyone starts college stripped of his or her class and previous accomplishments and abilities. That was the point of being there, and of mingling with all those other 18-year-olds who were concocting adult lives from scratch.
The act of choosing a major is a true manifestation of the sudden independence you’re thrust into upon starting what a lot of people call, "the best years of your life."
Each path, no matter how different, appears to have a respectable or logical end point, but if your path seems open-ended, committing yourself to a creative life can often make those around you uncomfortable.
Your parents may ask you if you're sure (more than once) and your friends studying pre-law or medicine give the illusion that they've got it all figured out.
That’s because the triumphs and roadblocks of more traditional pursuits are easier to measure; those goals are rooted in concrete intentions. It’s noble and can no doubt be gratifying, but it’s simply not how everyone is hardwired.
Your biggest challenge, then, will be maintaining that fire. You must chase it, fuel it and not succumb to the judgments of those ready to say, "I told you so."
Balance is key here, as it is in many endeavors. You’ll hopefully find a job to pay all your bills and one that satisfies you enough so showing up each day isn’t a sincere source of agony. Though, of course, part of the fun of being an adult is complaining on Gchat to your old college friends about how "over it" you are.
Once you’ve got that job, the next step is to develop a secondary job of sorts: a dedication to your craft(s). It should be a daily routine that you show up to just as you do for work. Maintaining said routine is far easier said than done, and if anyone has a foolproof way of doing so, please feel free to help a girl out.
Procrastination is my enemy; it leads to inconsistent work patterns and lack of inspiration. It’s a general bummer, but one that everyone will encounter. The key is to anticipate it, stand up tall to it and don’t let it be the end of your efforts.
The unattractive truth is that sometimes you’ll have to sacrifice a night out, a day of drinking at the beach or a Netflix marathon to get sh*t done.
A lot of people will judge you for doing so, but that’s okay, as long as you remember to never take it personally. We’re all guilty of this kind of insidious judgment, even those of us who are so often on the receiving end of it.
Figuring out how to live a creative life takes years, and part of that process is deciding that, despite the rational hesitancy of those around you, your creativity is not a shameful thing. You begin to lose as soon as you start apologizing for it.
No, I don’t know exactly what my accomplishments will look like, but I have passions I intend to pursue and ways I intend to feel it out along the way. I will tell stories with words and through acting and art, as long as doing so makes me feel like my authentic self.
That’s the only thing I want out of my adult life: to hold down the creative fort no matter how harsh the winds of practicality shake my foundation. That means defending that fire from anyone who tries to extinguish it, even if his or her intentions are good.
Some gravitate towards paths that are universally respected and understood, while others clumsily make their own path as they go along.
In my experience, taking the creative route results in a unique and natural existence that should be equally celebrated, not perceived as a source of embarrassment or unworthiness.
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