S Is For... SacrificeRead Now
The Reality Of Sticking At What You Love
Chasing dreams (to the very end) requires sacrifice. And it's not for everyone.
A recent article in The Guardian, kind of summed up by its title ("A dirty secret: you can only be a writer if you can afford it"), has done its bit to blow the lid on an entire industry - and also an idealised view on life we all might be guilty of having.
That view is that achieving our dreams is somehow egalitarian in its nature - available to all; that all you need is talent and passion and fate will take care of the rest.
This author's inconvenient truth, when it comes to the literary business, however, is that this idea simply isn't true.
You need financial backing if you want to be a writer, says Lynn Steger.
That means at a very basic level, you need to be able to pay the rent, pay the bills and buy food while you are penning the next classic work of literature (and then you might have to pay out a very tidy sum to publicise the thing if you want anyone to know it actually exists).
Facing A Few Home Truths
Very few people can do this, Steger notes.
And the ones who can are either already well-taken care of financially - or have a partner who can pick up the slack while they take X amount of months off work to allow themselves the sufficient time and space they need to be creative.
As she writes:
"There is the perpetuation of an illusion that makes an unsustainable life choice appear sustainable."
What she means is that it's actually very hard to make a living as a writer.
And the wider truth is that a lot of people we might look up to, that appear to have "made it", might very well have had pre-existing income to draw on - or a helping hand along the way.
And its our lack of appreciation for this fact that gives us a distorted idea of what it actually takes to be successful if we are not already in a privileged position of some kind.
(Not) Having Your Cake & Eating It
This is the reality of the publishing game. It is also the reality of most other games.
If you do not have a network of backers and if you are not sitting on a pile of cash, it can be very difficult to "follow your passion" if you are a Regular Joe.
But it gets even harder if you expect to fulfill your dreams but you also want to have all the bells and whistles life has on offer at the same time.
Try financing a mortgage, driving a nice car, paying for twice-yearly holidays and decking yourself out in fashionable attire, whilst also breaking in to a new area.
Ambition Requires... Minimalism?
This is where sacrifice comes in.
As entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk explains in the videos below, one of the key components of ambition is actually minimalism.
In order to give ourselves a chance of succeeding at what actually makes us happy, we need to drastically cut back on things that only appear to.
And this is where we can hit a wall.
Dealing With Stigma
It might be the social stigma of not driving a certain car, not wearing luxury branded shoes, not being able to maintain the same kind of social life as our friends.
Or it could be the shame that comes from our new pared down, scaled back life, particularly if we have done something as dramatic (and socially unacceptable) as move back in with our parents, something Vaynerchuk is a big proponent of (at any age).
But, as Vaynerchuk argues, not only is there no shame in sacrificing any of these things (i.e. our material possessions or social status), if we want to really make it - it might actually be our only real chance of succeeding if we are really serious about seeing our dreams through.
So, in the absence of backers, a pre-existing pot of cash to fall back on, or someone who can subsidize us while we chase our dreams, at some point we have to decide.
Are we willing to "slum it" in order to "make it"?
When it comes down to it, what really matters to us the most?
Only then will we know for sure if our dreams are actually more than just pipe-dreams.