I am constantly afraid.
No, not of cancer or car crashes. Not of spiders or drugs or angry men with guns. All of these are scary for different reasons, and I’ve had my conversations with death and decided that it’s scary, but not that scary.
What I fear most is this: the unhappy life.
Working 17 hour days, so exhausted I cry myself to sleep. Never being able to catch up with the bills. Never being able to have those amenities that make my life perfect in small ways; not just my iPod and internet access, but being able to watch television, or eat a meal with friends, or lay around for an hour just because I can. A life where the only thing keeping me going is hope. I can’t survive that. I won’t, even as others do it every single day. As an atheist, its the closest thing I have to the idea of hell.
I have a strong family support system, a university education and a bright future, so these fears are only nipping at my heels as I run as fast as I can towards the future, hoping to catch a train that I always fear might leave the station without me.
If I am not a strong enough writer, it will leave without me.
If I do not stay financially stable, it will leave without me.
If I am not charming and lovable, it will leave without me.
If I do not work harder and faster every year than I did the year before, it will leave without me.
If I don’t earn my ticket, it will leave without me.
I know none of these things are true. I know that the system I’m working in, in Toronto, is much less competitive than the one I dream of attacking in Los Angeles. I know that ‘being amazing’ is not the bar for survival; surviving is the bar for survival. And I know that I’m adaptable, and that if one arena won’t have me, I’ll go for another. Ditch TV for video games; ditch video games for iPod apps, and so on. But still, I can’t fight the feeling that there’s a train about to leave, and I won’t know if I’m going to catch it until I’m in the station watching it pull away. And it could leave in five, seven, ten years; for all I know it will never leave at all. But I’m still running.
This is one reason why I’m constantly inventing new ‘big’ ideas, trying to innovate and try new things, and constantly planning more than I could reasonably do even if I were focused enough to spend all of my time productively. It’s also the reason why I’m constantly thinking of ways to get my name out there: webseries, conferences, websites, groups, etc. Why I’m desperate to build a community to be a part of in our little student corner of the industry. Because we can’t do this alone. At least, I can’t.
Is this where ambition comes from? The drive to innovate, to bash away the old and invent the new? There’s joy in it too, the joy of creation, but right now it’s inextricably tied to the fear of not surviving. It’s thrilling and scary and exhausting. Maybe its because I’m young, but I have to believe this feeling doesn’t just belong to me.
How about you?