I don’t spend much time on Facebook these days, but I recently found myself wandering there to check up on some of my favorite writing pages. This question jumped out at me from the Word Nerds Unite Facebook page: “If given the chance, what advice would you give your younger writer self?”
It caught my attention because my younger writer self actually wrote more than my older “more responsible” self ever has.
When I think about days-gone-by and wonder where my starry-eyed dreams of the writer’s life went, I like to believe the “real world” stepped in and crushed them all. After all, it’s far easier to blame everything else around me for keeping me from my dreams than to actually do what it takes to follow them. Even worse, despite knowing better, I still perpetuate the very beliefs that distract me from pursuing my dreams.
Why don’t I drop everything and hit the reset button? There is a modicum of reality that is undeniable. I have a family and a mortgage and all the other responsibilities that come with. I willingly took on these responsibilities over the course of my life, and I have no intentions of abandoning them. They are now indelible parts of me. Sure, they can make pursuing dreams a bit more difficult, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.
Perhaps it would’ve been easier to set off on the writing journey as my younger self, unencumbered with middle-age responsibilities, but that is not the road I took. Instead, I listened to those well-intentioned people in my life who gave me directions down the “more responsible” paths of business and corporate careers; the routes with future and promise. Those roads do lead to fulfillment for some: I see many happy travelers cruising past me all the time. What those roads lack for me, however, is personal fulfillment.
What advice would I give my younger writer self? At the risk of an alternate existence, without the things I am grateful for now, there is not much I would say. I am thankful for all I have achieved and accomplished. There are things in my past I am less proud of, but so goes life. I am where I am because I chose to live through the decisions I made. Maybe I am in a better place to begin my writing journey now than I was in my younger days. Perhaps I needed wisdom and perspective to season the writer within me. I do believe the universe guides us to the opportunity to find our best life, so maybe I am here for a reason. I just need to recognize and seize the opportunity.
To answer the question, I would not give my younger writer self any advice. Instead, I would ask my younger writer self to occasionally visit my older writer self and help me keep the faith, to fan the flames of my passions, and to remind me not to take myself so seriously. After all, sometimes it is our older self that needs the advice.