There are very few things in this world that I haven’t tried to be.
Olympic figure skater? Check. Model? I prefer pizza. Gymnast? They are not kidding about the butt hairspray. Veterinarian? If you can’t stick humans with needles, then you definitely can’t stick puppies with needles. Musician? Name any televised talent show—I auditioned for it. Lawyer? Not as fun as Elle Woods makes it out to be. Detective? Listen up, people: an interest in crime shows does not qualify you to hunt down serial killers.
I tried on careers like outfits searching for a magical golden moment of divine epiphany. I never minded failing so long as I learned something new. But after a while, my inability to commit started to feel like a weakness rather than an adventure. When I started investing money in my endeavors, failure stopped being an adventure altogether.
Two years into college, I started to despise my major. Half of my tuition was gone when I finally came to terms with my depressing truth: I had coaxed myself into pursuing the mystical nonsense people call a practical career to avoid further failure. So, I dropped all my classes, took a leap of faith, and started over.
Failure might be a big scary monster, but while it’s roaring at you, it will show you the way.
While I was shopping for my life’s purpose, I documented my failures in journal entries and blog posts and adapted them into creative short stories, fiction novels, and niche magazine articles. When I finally took on a writing career, my failures became a collective of story ideas, and I realized I had experience and expertise beyond that of my peers. I had been preparing for my career all my life, and I didn’t even realize it.
No matter what you pursue in life, failure is certain. (I’ve been around the block.) That’s what makes finding yourself so damn confusing. Even when you’re on the right path, you will still get punched in the face. I had to take double the classes for two years and kick down the door of every publication in Chicago for an internship just to graduate on time. And even then, I couldn’t get a job. I had to move in with my boyfriend and write for free to build my portfolio while riding my bike to a part-time job for two years before someone finally started paying me.
You’re going to get punched anyway—so get hit for something you believe in. One day, when you’re prostrate on the ground, bruised and crying after your 999th failure, you’ll wipe the blood off your lip and punch back. That is your golden moment. It’s not magical at all. It’s painful and ugly, and you’ll have to stare down the failure monster more than once to get there. So, don’t let anyone tell you that you’re wasting precious time. Run down your golden moment like a pair of Manolos on sale.
Feature photo by Sara Keefe. Edits by me.