Over the next few months, I’m going to answer specific reader questions on the blog. If you have questions or topics you need help with, please email me or leave a comment at the bottom of this post. I don’t know if I can respond to all your questions, but I’ll do my best. Enjoy!
How do you sustain yourself, and maintain your commitment to following your dreams in a world that so easily passes judgment on those of us who "look like" we're not "really" working? Of course, we ARE working, and privileged enough to be able to follow our dreams as our work. But, I find it hard to do this alone. I feel in some ways like I'm constantly having to justify my choices, and even defend myself, even to those who have been friends for years. I am trying to locate other writers when I can. Many people I meet are working 9-5 jobs, and have little time beyond the class they might be taking for writing, to meet.
When I left my day job in 2010, I had a support system in place. I do most of my writing alone, but I’m not lonely. I have a whole team of folks who help me with my business. For example, my husband reviews and edits all my blog posts and listens to my crazy project ideas. I also work with editors on bigger projects like e-courses and books. I also have girlfriends I can rely on. They always listen when I’m having hard time. In addition, my parents and my in-laws have supported my dreams and I’m incredibly grateful for their encouragement. Cultivating this support system has taken time, but it's helped me sustain myself and maintain my commitment to writing, photography, and teaching.
If you don’t have a support system in place, take an online class. I’ve met incredible friends through online courses. Alternatively, you can reach out to authors who inspire you. For example, Courtney Carver and I got to know each other through Skype in 2010. Now she is a friend for life. Also, look for writing groups on meetup.com. It’s a fantastic resource.
Second, I’d encourage you to stop justifying your choices. Your dreams are worthy and you are working. If your loved ones aren’t supportive, reevaluate your relationships. For example, when I decided to start my small business, some friends questioned my new venture in unkind ways. Asking questions — and showing concern — is natural and it isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
However, when some of my friends and colleagues became negative naysayers I addressed the situation by having open and honest conversations. Most of the time, talking resolved problems and differences. When a good conversation didn’t help, I let go of the relationships and sought out friends who embraced alternative careers and lifestyles.
Finally, I’ve spent copious amounts of time worrying about what others think of me. When I start to get worked up, I remind myself that I only get a small amount of time on this planet. Instead of justifying my choices — or worrying about what friends and family think of me — I try to be honest, kind, and compassionate in my writing and in my daily life. By worrying less and by relying on my support system, I’m able to sustain myself and my commitment to writing, photography, and teaching.