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I’ve been reaching some milestones in my life of late, and it had me thinking I ought to share some of that with you the reader.
So in the spirit of Death waiting for no one, let’s get on with it:
June 2014, five years ago I received my very last student loan, to help me pay school tuition, bringing my outstanding debt to a nice, round twenty-thundo.
I know everything is relative – to some $20k seems like SO MUCH debt, while others may envy anything below triple digits – but that was enough to put a serious cramp in my life.
But guess what?
In August of this year, I finally paid off *all* my student loan debt.
YAY for archie 😀
That is sort of surreal… You mean I get to keep the money I’m paid?
November 2015, four years ago, I made the first real step of becoming a writer, by you know, writing something.
Calling it a story might be generous… It had a title, it had dialogue and characters, a few too many run-on sentences – but it was beautiful.
What’s more, the story I wrote back then wasn’t nearly as important to the real-life story of me beginning to actually regard myself as a writer, giving myself permission to write and to write badly, and to keep trying again the next day.
Every journey begins with a first step, every masterpiece begins with a bad short story, right?
A little over three decades ago I was born, which is another way of saying I turned 30.
Growing up on ’90s sitcoms, I always equated thirty to old people with old-people problems (who may or may not be living in NYC). Everyone was sad or mad about being thirty, and me getting to that point seemed as real as becoming an astronaut.
But having got there now, what’s most surprising is how much I really enjoy it.
I struggled a lot in my early twenties, and in my teens, trying to first fit in with people at school and then trying to find out who the hell I really am inside.
Perhaps that wasn’t all in vain, though, if it contributed to forcing me to find other ways to connect with what I want, with what makes me feel fulfilled, with who inspires me.
And maybe I can still visit space somehow?
In late 2017, two years ago, I finally began the habit of regular free-writing.
That looked like me committing to filling 3 blank pages by hand, writing messy and writing messier thoughts, all with the sole intent of building up a writing routine.
Now the goal is to write 3 pages daily (I absolutely did not do that, sometimes letting weeks and months go by before writing again), but I have kept returning to the practice and am currently writing more consistently than ever!
I recently read through some of my oldest journals, and then got the pleasure to burn them, and it was really bitter-sweet to read my feelings and thoughts and worries and plans and funny comments about things on day-to-day living.
That’s the kind of stuff that really gets away from us, those little details of life unless we make an effort to slow down and write down some of ourselves before we change again.
My first draft.
I have written a few drafts of different short stories, but this was the first real attempt on my part to write a long story and in particular a story that I have been working on for some time now.
I had wanted to complete this first draft before my 30th birthday and then had given up on that goal before I even really started trying. Wanting to get a head start by writing on it for months in advance of my birthday-month did not happen and it bummed me out.
My best friend, however, saved the day by casually asking that I try to write a few pages of the draft for every day in September – which would be about 60 pages by my birthday.
And I did it!
[Hold for applause]
I wrote almost every day that month (plus wrote 3 pages of freewriting), and the days I didn’t do it were made up the following day by working extra.
Two realizations came of me meeting this major milestone in my writing career:
- It was so much easier than I expected.
Especially with freewriting on the side to help, I found that after the first few days I was actually eager to write and accomplish what I knew I could do because the first draft of anything is shit and yet is perfect precisely because it exists.
You know what is much harder than writing that first draft?
Spending years kicking yourself and putting yourself down because you think you are not “enough” to try and tell your story, whatever that may be.
- After finishing, I still felt the feelings I felt before I started.
As in, completing that first draft did not cure my anxiety or my dissatisfactions in life, because those problems are never going to be fixed by external factors – like whether a goal gets completed or not.
The only zen you will find at the top of a mountain is the zen you bring there.
However – that doesn’t mean there weren’t new feelings that came as a result of me achieving this long-desired goal. I felt a boost of confidence in my capacity to accomplish things I actually wanted to try, and it reminded me that sometimes in life our biggest obstacle to overcome is our own self-doubt.
Now you try: consider that maybe a life-goal of yours isn’t going to be the happily-ever-after solution you want it to be – and see if that perspective shift actually helps you achieve those very same goals you deserve to achieve.
As always, thanks for reading.