Never Give Up

Have you ever given up on a dream because you felt it was impossible to achieve?

I did once, and quite frankly, I was never more miserable.

When I first graduated college, I dreamed of landing a position as a professional writer. I searched high and low in every classified’s section and online job portal I could find to uncover that gem of a job where I’d spend my days typing out words people would want to read.

making excusesI envisioned opportunities would come rolling into my life when I graduated college.  Yeah, well, opportunities for writing professionals weren’t exactly taking up columns, let alone even a sentence of space, in any of the searches I conducted.

My naive self took this to mean my dreams were over. I decided to give up on the dream. I would never be a writer. The opportunities didn’t exist for inexperienced people like myself.

I took my crushed vision, and ventured out on a more realistic romp through the classifieds. Two months after my search began, I landed a job as a Senior Operations Associate in a financial company. I walked into that tall building, with its mirrored windows and perfectly manicured bushes and lawns with a knot in my throat each day, and walked out with frustrated tears rolling down my cheeks each evening.

I lasted eighteen months in that torture chamber, and I honestly think it shaved off a good ten years of my life.

Never Give Up

Why was I so miserable? I wanted to be a creative writer, not to be a monetary wizard. Where others found gratification, I found a straight path to dissatisfaction. I hated dealing with other people’s money and the tantrums that often accompanied those dealings.

Why did I put up with it?

It paid the bills. Good ole money kept me shackled to a career that likely gave me my first strand of gray hair.

I needed the green bills, and this company gave them to me. I had a new, shiny, red car in the driveway and a charming apartment in the city of Providence. I succumbed to the comfort of having a steady paycheck, which resulted in many sleepless nights spent wallowing in useless self-pity and drowning in relentless tears. The need for money was my obstacle. It forced me on a path that I didn’t want to take and made me give up on my dream. 

Dammit I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to walk off that graduation stage and walk into the large doors of a publishing house where I could work my way up the ladder of literary heaven. I had no idea what kind of writer I wanted to be. I just wanted to make a living writing something purposeful and engaging. For all I knew, I would’ve been thrilled writing the copy on the backside of a cereal box. It wouldn’t have mattered. I just wanted to write. I didn’t want to give up!

When I measured my dream against my reality the two were remotely off. The problem was that there were few positions available as a writer that did not require solid experience—something I did not have. There seemed to be no answer–no way to “break in.”

A New Leash on Life by Suzie Carr

I thought I was doomed to a life of crunching numbers instead of expressing myself through the written word.

Then, one day, a light bulb turned on in my brain telling me not to give up.

While on a long hike, I vented to a dear friend. She then turned to me and asked, “But, isn’t a writer supposed to write?”

I tripped over her question, knowing with every morsel of my being that her words echoed truth. But fueled by my laborious trek up the mountain and a biting need to defend myself, I answered quite hastily, “I don’t have time to waste on foolish dreams. How am I supposed to carve out time to write when I have to concentrate on cleaning, grocery shopping, and oh yeah, working?”

Her patient reply was, “How can you foolishly waste time on work that kills your soul?”

I pressed on up to the ridge of that mountain. The fog hung thick and dense, choking off the last bit of reason in my heart. With each step up that unforgiving rocky mountainside, I allowed self-doubt to trample on my friend’s beautiful argument. Finally, breathless and irritated, I barked out, “I have no experience as a writer.” My words echoed through the trees, slamming back against me with a force too powerful to brush away.

My friend held silent until we ascended to the top of that mountain. Then she said, “You have no experience? Well, go get some then. Surely someone needs a writer just as surely as a soup kitchen needs servers and children need mentors. Write to help others, and pathways will open to you.”

I took a good wide view of the tree-dotted landscape below, breathing fully for the first time in ages. I felt the unmistakable nudge I had needed since I first dreamed of becoming a writer. Yes. I would go get some experience dammit! I would volunteer to gain my experience.

And so began my writing journey.

I left that soul-sucking job and worked as a hairstylist in a beautiful day spa, a position that brought me not only joy but endless ideas for characters and stories. Through those years, I volunteered writing articles for a local animal advocates group to help educate the public on issues pertaining to domesticated animals. Simultaneously, I began volunteering my time to write articles for hair salon trade magazines to help educate stylists around the globe on ways to market and build their businesses. Eventually, I discovered the writer inside, one who eventually discovered a passion for writing novels that depicted real life struggles and brought a sense of empowerment to love and friendship.

Stepping away from something that sucks the life out of you to discover what breaths that life back in is both scary and exhilarating.

I’ve learned that to stand for something requires action.

If you want to be a writer, you must write. If you want to be a painter,  you must paint. If you want to be an actor, you must act. You can’t just talk about it. You must do it. Never give up. Often times that path opens up by our willingness to forge a new one where one didn’t exist before.

Did you give up on a dream because you felt it was impossible to achieve? What is one action you can take today to create an opportunity to make it happen? Please share so we can brainstorm. Don’t you dare give up! 

Wishing you the very best,

Suzie Carr, novelist

7 replies
  1. Karen
    Karen says:

    Very honest article. I truly believe that if you want to really do something, you will find a way. Where you come from, which school you went to, how rich your parents are may bring opportunities sooner but you need that fire in your belly, that grit and determination to succeed.To not give up and find a way. A passion for something with a determined work ethic , for me , are such important qualities, ones I hope to instil in my kids.
    You found a way and so did I.

    Reply
    • Suzie Carr
      Suzie Carr says:

      Hey Karen! Your kids are fortunate to have a mom who loves them enough to instill such crucial qualities. With a fire in the belly, most anything is possible. Thanks for chiming in!

      Reply
  2. Pat Lavit
    Pat Lavit says:

    Your story is a great example of a passionate woman, determined, and was able to realize his dream! Today, you are a remarkable writer much appreciated by readers and writers friends! You’re a wonderful woman, sensitive, sweet, which brings a lot of joy and love to all his fans! 🙂

    Reply
  3. Tami
    Tami says:

    Loved reading this Suz!

    As a child, I was always drawn to creative pastimes. I fell in love with writing at age 8. There was just something about it that set my soul on fire. Up until a few years ago, I thought that my happiness lied in me becoming a novelist. Needless to say, I was miserable day in and day out. I couldn’t figure out how to ‘get my foot in the door’. As you know, it’s hard work. So, I stopped writing. And I became even more miserable.

    I thought that I had to make money from writing in order to be happy. How wrong was I! It took me a very long time to realize that it had absolutely nothing to do with money. It was the act of writing that ignited me within. Like you, I just wanted to write. I opened a blog and have never felt more satisfied. I don’t need to make a cent from it, I just need to do it.

    As for a career, I didn’t stray too far from writing…I kept it within the family. Art…I am an art teacher. I guess because it is so similar to writing, I have never felt miserable or unhappy with it. I enjoy going to work everyday and at the end of the day that’s the most important thing. I also think that teaching makes me a better writer. Win/Win. 🙂

    Reply
  4. Amy Berger
    Amy Berger says:

    Does something need to be timely to be relevant? I hope not. I am late to the party but this is speaking to me today, loudly.

    Did I give up on a dream because I felt it was impossible to achieve? Yes. Yes I did….sort of.

    The dream of being a published writer was an early one…right out of high school. Writing is always with me. It is something I have always done and will always do.

    What did I give up? I gave up the dream of writing something that was good enough to share. I accepted that “I do this for me.” It has served me well in many ways.

    What action will I take today to reignite that dream?

    I am not sure. Today’s action would need to be different from “yester-years today’s action”.

    I would like today’s action to be the following.

    Figure out how to finish at least one piece of work that I have completed to the best of my current ability. When I write, I work mostly in isolation. I get as far as I can, then stop until a new one comes along and the cycle repeats.

    Current Visual: “I’m standing in front of a brick wall, pick in hand, small masonry chip pile on the ground, only a small depression in one brick.”

    Experience tells me that I need to take step back.

    To solve a problem, I must first understand what is the problem, and from what does the problem emerge?

    Me. I am a big picture person. I know a little bit about a lot of things, but not a lot about any one thing.

    For example, my day job.

    I work with programmers. I know how to use, qualify, and troubleshoot the applications they write.
    I know operating systems and networking.
    I even know how to communicate with the programmers. I speak fluent geek.
    However, when I look closely, I am in no way a programmer. I could not do their job. I have a computer science degree, but, each attempt looking at code makes me go cross-eyed and I run away screaming.

    Question: How can I learn to be good at something that does not come naturally to me? I struggle with the deep dive, detailed nitty-gritty focus. I believe this is the skill I need to learn. Pardon the cliche, but can you teach an old dog new tricks?

    Here is a gaping hole in my internal problem solving logic.

    I can’t write code, quod erat demonstrandum, I can’t develop the needed writing skills (style, structure, technique) to finish something.

    Next steps?

    I have tried many things in the past that have helped, but I am still not where I want to be.
    How can I get on the other side of that wall?

    Reply

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