Why it's so hard to say, "I'm an author."

Picture this: It’s been a stressful day at the office, and you’re out for drinks with a couple of co-workers, chatting about what you’d be doing if it weren’t working. There’s talk of golf or starting a business or moving to a ski village and bumming around for a few years. Maybe a trip or two to the beach. Then the conversation reaches you. You don’t want to say it, you’ve been here before, you know how this goes, but it bubbles out anyways.

“I’m an — I’d, uh. I’d be an author.”

Cue the awkward silence. The glazed looks. The, Hmm, that’s interesting, comments. Then expect the conversation to turn — quickly — back to something more comfortable. Something more realistic.

Why? Because telling someone you are a writer (or want to be one) is akin to saying:

“I’m a movie star!”

“I’m a rock star!”

“I’m an astronaut!”

Phrases like these aren’t meant for adulthood. Elementary school, maybe, but not adulthood. Why? It’s not practical. After all, practicality is the cornerstone of a responsible adult life. You are who you are at this point. You’ve worked hard to construct the box in which you live. You’ve gone to college, you’ve earned that master’s degree, you’ve sweated and scratched and bled your way up the corporate ladder one stubborn rung at a time. Childhood dreams? Pff, who has time for those? And things aren’t that bad, really. In fact, they’re pretty good. You’ve got a decent income and job security. Plenty of years left to pad the 401k. You’ve got the wife. Or the husband. The 2.5 kids. You’ve got the single-professional thing down. Hell, you’ve been tapped for the partner track. You’ve got your white-picket-fence dream with all the trimmings.

So, why does it feel like something’s missing?

Because something is. Mark Twain summed it up best:

The two most important days of your life are when you are born and the day you find out why.

We’re all put on this planet to do something. And when you find that specialsomething, that thing that sings to you when all else is quiet, you need to grab hold of it and never let go. For me, that special something is writing, and if that’s what it is for you, too, then I’m here to let you know you need to tell people you’re an author. You need to shout it from the rooftops and have all the awkward conversations you can. Here’s why:

If you don’t, you will die.

Not literally, of course. You won’t have a heart-attack or get struck by lightning. But a piece of you — that sacred inner voice that whispers for you to take a chance, to chase your dreams and do something remarkable — will. Practice ignoring it long enough, and you won’t hear it at all, and before you know it, you’ve lived your life in a perpetual state of Groundhog’s day. Get up, commute, work, stress, commute, TV, bed. Get up, commute, work, stress — you get it.

Read my full post on Medium.

 

Caleb Stephens