Something hit me 5 minutes ago. You know when you’re just going about your day and then, suddenly, in an instant you’re completely aware of your breathing, and who you are and all the particles you’re made up of and how fickle life is? It’s kind of an amazing feeling.
I honestly kind of just ended up here on a whim and somehow managed to pull off some kind of existence that I never fully planned out or expected. I decided that if I was going to live, I was going to follow my dreams. What my dreams were exactly I had no clue of originally, I just knew I’d get there if I kept following my instinct. This didn’t happen because I read The Secret or listened to Oprah when she told me to discover my truth, this happened when I realized everything I had learned about life up until that point was mostly bullshit.
Saying the words “I’m following my dreams” kind of makes me want to puke, but it’s true. I use the word dream to define the entire process of my life, not just the end point. Because at the moment I’m setting myself up for a path of external and internal struggle that I will never fully grasp until I’m right in the thick of it. But for now it’s chill, the calm before the storm. Which will, hopefully, be followed by a rainbow. So I’ve decided to give some life advice. Not because I’m even mildly successful or wise, but because I’ve learned a few things over the past 5 years that I’ve found beneficial to myself. I’m a really hard person to please, so I figure learning how to be satisfied in my struggle is something I can share with others.
It took me a long time to figure out how to be happy. I’ve always been generally content with life, but I’ve also experienced depression. Being completely and utterly lost was the best thing that ever happened to me. I was in my third year of university studying a bunch of shit I didn’t care about, knowing I never wanted to use any of it, paying tuition out of my own pocket, well, a pocket that was lent to me by the government. I hated prerequisites. I hated writing papers on things that are completely irrelevant to today’s world. I hated taking exams that tested my knowledge without actually testing my knowledge. I hated walking down the hallways and seeing everyone ready to jump at any moment, sleeping under chairs and drinking gallons of coffee just to keep their eyes open. I hated everything about it.
Why the fuck am I here? Every single day that’s all I asked myself. I had answers, it’s not as if my question went ignored, but I wasn’t satisfied with the reasoning behind my suffering. Family, society, necessity, degrees, success. None of that pertained to me because I knew I was setting myself up for a lifetime of disappointment.
And then it happened. Out of nowhere. It was like any other given school night, I sat there staring at meaningless numbers that apparently had some kind of meaning. It was the eve of my statistics exam, after studying for 3 hours and realizing I did not give a single flying fuck about any of it, I decided to do something else. I decided to quit university and follow some kind of dream that I had vaguely envisioned in my head. I didn’t have a plan. I didn’t have a clue. I just decided to trust my instinct and go with it.
Within two weeks I got a job as a copywriter. A couple months later someone, who I’ve now accepted as my fairy godmother, suggested I start a blog, I did. Someone else suggested I submit my rambling words into a magazine, I did. A month later I was published. Two months later I was invited to be interviewed by Bill Good. I got a scholarship to film school, I enrolled, I started and now I’m looking at the horizon knowing I could potentially fail but determined not to. I am currently residing in my dream. I’m creating things that matter to me. I’m excited to wake up everyday. No. That’s a fucking lie. I’m excited to wake up a lot, not everyday. The actual process of waking up is generally a pretty dreadful activity. I like being awake. That’s what I’m trying to say.
My point is that I may be a fucking nobody, but my dream is only as valid as I let it be. I was never sure of where I was going, I just knew I wanted to want wherever I ended up with all my heart. Nothing felt right until I started over. It was terrifying. Do you know how it feels to tell your Persian parents that you’re dropping out of university to become a writer? I’m still slightly terrified, but like, in a good way. I could have ended up finishing my degree and getting a government job or something. Or more likely, being the manager of a Starbucks. Still possible, but at least I’ll know I tried. Because nothing is worth it if you don’t try. They say being afraid is a good thing, and it is, but there’s a difference between being afraid with excitement and being afraid with misery. The latter can slowly destroy your soul. Misery is only useful up until a point. It can turn you cold if you never learn to utilize it properly.
You don’t have to know what you want right away. Hell, you will probably never fully know what you want, but the trick is challenging yourself and keeping yourself motivated and passionate. Being happy isn’t sunshine and lollipops, it’s often a lot of stress and pain, and a ton of bullshit along the way, but you’ll know when you are. You’ll know because that feeling of misery will fade out and even the shitty things that come with life will be kind of pretty okay. When you figure it out, happiness will linger even when you’re dirt poor, taking a bus, and eating ramen for dinner 5 nights a week. You realize the rest of it is bullshit.
No one knows you like you know you, no book, or sequal to that book, or talk show mogul can ever give you the actual advice you need. University works for a lot of people, but not for everyone. Living as a starving artist is satisfying to some, and completely unimaginable to others. Farming is one person’s dream and another person’s nightmare. The only trick in life is being honest with yourself and how you feel. If you’re content and passionate about the path you’re on, stick to it. But if you wake up in the morning and you dread the day that follows it, you can either stay fucked forever or make it better. Embrace the fear and mystery that come with not knowing what the fuck is going to happen next. If you get too comfortable, life will never teach you all the things that it has to offer. And it has a hell of a lot to offer.