Looking foward, looking back

It’s easy to look back at our younger selves and see them only for their faults and their mistakes. We’re older now and wiser. If we could go back in time it would be the younger version of us who would be taking lessons from us. We often think about the lessons we could impart if we could speak through time. It’s always about the things we know now that we did now know then.
I’m beginning to think the exchange could go both ways. We shouldn’t underestimate the things we might have lost.
There was a time when I would throw myself at opportunities with reckless abandon. I’d bulrush doors until they opened. It wasn’t that I was unafraid of failure but back then, when people told me how hard it was going to be, I took it as a personal challenge.
I had nothing to lose. The only thing I risked was my pride and success offered so much. If I was going to succeed at this writing game, where everyone told me I would fail, I wanted to get a head start. I took that childish optimism with both hands and I used every single drop.
But then it ran out.
Back then, when people said to me (as they did with surprising frequency) that I was going places, I would look at them and say “That’s the plan”. These days if someone told me that, I’d probably smile sadly and reply “I hope so”.
I’m worried that I’m turning into one of those adults who used to tell me how hard it was going to be. I didn’t used to care that there was a mountain to climb because I was so convinced that I would reach the top. I never thought that I’d fail in the long run. I knew that I would be a writer, that I would have a job that I loved. I believed so steadfastly that if I tried really hard then I would succeed.
I want to believe the things that I used to believe. I wish the only possible future in my head was still the one where I’m Liz Lemon. Instead I feel like I’m staring down the barrel of professional unemployment.
The risks are so much greater. It’s money, at the end of the day that is the problem. If I was independently wealthy then I probably would risk everything in pursuit of my dreams. As it is, I’m not willing to risk not having a roof over my head. I like having enough money to buy cheese.
I don’t want to be afraid.
I’ve always said that we should do the things that scare us, but I’m discovering that there are exceptions to that rule. I have developed a crippling fear of spending several years of my life doing a job that I hate.
There’s this future in my head that I can’t shake. A future in which I sit at a desk for eight hours a day and I go home and I sleep and I wake up in the morning and I do it again. A future where all I think about is a life that I could have had but that I missed, somewhere along the line when I took a wrong turn. In this future my past self is a beacon of hope and a mark of my own failure.
I’m terrified of that future. I wish I didn’t believe in it. I wish I would brush it away as dismissively as I used to. I desperately want to live up to those dreams that I was so convinced would come true.

It’s easy to look at our past selves and only see their mistakes. I can’t help looking back with envy. And with pride.

Further reading

December – home

I spent the first minutes of 2018 on the beach. I’ve never actually spent New Year