About a week or so ago, I received a postcard from one of my best friends, Barby, who decided rather abruptly that she was going to live in New York City. She worked briefly in retail before settling into a job and then another in her field of choice (Interior Design!) and is getting along swimmingly with the city.
I’m writing this because, as many people who have known me for a while know, it is one of my biggest dreams to live in New York. You could say it’s one of the biggest clichés that I want, too. But I still want it, unabashedly. The desire is there all the same.
Whenever I receive postcards, I usually expect a brief report on the place of origin and a few how-are-yous. However, this one was special, not only because it came from someone who I sorely miss, but also because it forced me to confront a few issues that I keep burying in my brain because “I have no time” to think about it.
Barby asked me two questions:
— “What makes you happiest these days?”
— “What are you most afraid of, that keeps you from pursuing your dream?”
To answer the first question, I am happiest when I work on things I believe in. And I don’t mean causes, though those things are noble in their own way, but I just mean when the things I do are just in sync with what I feel compelled to do and feel excited to do. When the project is a collaboration, rather than a super-edited version of what it was supposed to be. I am happiest when things fall into place, specifically when it concerns “things I do,” aka my “career,” aka “things I do for a living.”
I think that this area of my life is largely tied to my emotions and my feelings of fulfillment as human being, because when I make things… the outcome shines brightest when it is something that is personally meaningful to me. I am happy when I make something with meaning—even if it is just something silly or funny. If what I make means something to me, in whatever way, there is something there that puts it a notch above things I make for money.
To address the second question—the answer is, predictably, linked to the first one.
The main answer is the usual suspect—Will I be good enough to make it there? I think that the idea of failure is what ultimately holds me back, and I feel like that thought haunts me, even here and now. The process to just try is tedious because of all the paperwork and the legwork, and it doesn’t help if there are important people in your life who don’t support you and help you make that leap. I don’t know. I’m scared of a lot of things, but I think that the fear of failing myself reach my dreams is the pervasive feeling here and it clouds everything I do.
An even scarier thing is that I feel like I have accepted the possible thing that I am afraid of as the truth. And that is what has kept me from pursuing anything else other than what I know and what is comfortable.
So, there. I don’t know what to do. I don’t have epiphanies or realizations and I certainly haven’t found a new way to “be successful.” I don’t have a magic bean to take me to where I want to go. But I think that now that I have at least faced some of the questions I’ve been wanting to ask myself for a while, the path is a little clearer and I have a bit more energy for that extra push.