It’s a question I’ve been facing a lot lately. The old fear that I’m becoming a burden to those around me by not bringing in enough money, by not cooking enough meals, or cleaning the house as regularly as I used to is piling up.
I’ve been writing. I’ve been writing a lot, but it isn’t bringing in money right now. I’m at that stage where I’m close to a new publication and people around me are asking why I’m doing this. Their faces are smiling, but their eyes are wondering when I’ll give up; when I’ll stop following this pipe dream and get a ‘real’ job.
It starts to grate. What were gentle scratches this time last year are beginning to dig deeper and become cuts. The only band-aid I have for them is…success.
But who defines that?
Who says that reaching a thousand likes on your latest fanfic, or successfully translating your last fanfic into a workable, and potentially publishable story isn’t a success? Right now, for me, it’s the bill payer.
Success takes time. It takes hard work, and it takes a lot of communication.
For my sister, success was a house, a family of her own (which means having a child) and a secure, high paying job. For my parents, too, success and happiness came hand in hand with achieving those goals. It was set and measurable goals that led them to their happiness and to long, fulfilling lives.
I look around me and see my friends getting married and having children. They ask me why I’m not angry at my partner for not ‘making an honest woman out of me’ yet and when I’m going to move out of that ‘ratty little flat of yours’, and into a ‘proper house’ with more than one bedroom? When am I going to fulfil my role as a woman and bring the next generation into the world?
My gut clenches and my lip sneers in annoyance whenever this conversation starts up. I don’t want what they want.
I never have.
I told my mother when I was thirteen that I wanted to have cats instead of kids, and over twenty years later, nothing has changed. I’m simply not maternal. I care deeply about people, but I have no desire to raise one of my own.
I don’t want a big house. A big house simply means more cleaning, more objects chaining me in place and more debts to pay off. It’s lovely to see the architectural marvels that people construct, and I adore watching home renovation programmes, but it’s not something that I want in my life.
And I don’t need a job that pays hundreds of thousands of pounds a year. Yes, I want enough to pay the bills, live comfortably and have some leftover for savings, but that’s all. Money brings with it a certain kind of freedom, I understand that, but when it becomes all you live for, it turns into a chain.
I’m never going to be that girl. I want to be the woman that pursues her own happiness, her own goals and her own desires. I want to be able to say that I chased my dreams and didn’t just do what the crowd told me to; because I don’t share their dreams. My sister does, and she has gone after them with a ferocity that I, quite frankly, envy.
It’s taken a long time for me to discover who I am and what I want out of my life, but damn if I’m not going to chase after it and give it everything I have. The voices around me will grow in volume as I get older; I know they will. I’m nearing the tipping point of not being able to turn back in regards to certain milestones in life, and, you know what, that’s OK.
There’s a certain kind of peace to be found in not giving a shit. I call it the F**k It point. I hit it when I came out, I hit it when I quit my first job, and I hit it again when I moved halfway across the country to be with my boyfriend. I’ve never regretted a single one of those decisions, so I have no doubt at all that I will regret focussing on my writing. But, damn does the anxiety that leads up to those decisions suck giant donkey balls.
I’m still with the man I moved across the country for. Today will be our ten-year anniversary. He told me that this time next year, we will be in Japan, together. He wanted to celebrate ten years together there this year, but life got in the way. We both cried together and held each other close. I told him how much I loved him and he repeated it back to me. I’ve never been more proud than I am now to say that I stand beside that man. He’s my world, and he’s working to support me. To enable me to fulfil my dreams so that when we are both old, and he can’t make it into the office, we can live off the proceeds of my books.
He’s not given up on me, so I refuse to give up on him.
We have our two cats, our small flat and our eyes firmly set on a future that we both want, for each other.
Who defines our success? We do.
When is enough? Whenever we say it is. The rest of the world can go take a flying leap. Think big and never give up. It’s only you that will ever get to live your life. You can do it, and you can define your own dreams.
Happy Valentines Day. I love you all.
Sophie, signing out.