“We’re all in the same boat”
Being in your early 20’s sucks. We can’t help but feel so much is expected of us when it comes to having our lives together. We are in an awkward transition of adolescence. We are no longer considered teens yet we’re not being considered adults yet either. You can’t complain to “real” adults about how you feel because they hit you with the
“Now you know how we feel!”
line and tell you to “grow up”. You can’t moan to people younger than you because they look at you like your insane to not appreciate your independence. You also can’t complain to people your own age because all of us are so touchy about the pressure we’re under and then the “we’re all in the same boat” line bounces between us. I don’t think it would be so bad if it wasn’t for the fact that boat we are all on is practically the Titanic!
I think my biggest problem is feeling like a NEED to have a plan. I need to have some sort of direction or idea of where I’m heading otherwise I convince myself that I’m going nowhere and begin to shut down. It’s really hard to get this concept into peoples heads. Almost every time I have a freak out about not knowing what my plan is, I’m met with rolling eyes and sighs as it’s explained (usually in a rather annoyed tone!) that none of us know what we’re doing. The thing is, I get that, I wish people would stop treating me as if I’m acting like a spoilt kid. I KNOW that very few of us know what we are doing but there’s not a lot I can do when it comes to feeling like I need that plan. I don’t care if the plan doesn’t follow exact points, I don’t care if the plan changes, as long as I have some kind of plan that sends me into some kind of practical direction, then I’ve ticked off that desire!
Once you’ve sorted out the plan, you then have the joy of learning how to follow it. I know that I can spend an age figuring out what I want my plan to be, but I find it just as difficult acting out that plan. If you’re a crazy planner like me, you’ll know that it’s not just a case of figuring out your direction, you also need the discipline to continue heading in that direction until you have a solid reason to change your route. It’s easy to think that your plan feels too out of reach and to back out until you come out with a new plan. This is definitely my own downfall! We need to teach ourselves not to back out as soon as it becomes too difficult but to keep pushing through or at least to find a new route around. The discipline is to continue working towards your plan by adapting, not throwing everything away and starting again.
Saying that, it’s crazy important to get it into your head that disasters are inevitable. Even if we are lucky enough to make it five+ years into a plan, there are things that are going to jump in front of your tracks and derail you no matter how prepared and determined you are. You might get sick, your company may fold, your ship of fine silks may get lost at sea. These things can’t be helped and it is understandable that you might want to throw in the towel and give up…But WE CAN DO THIS! I believe that dreams are not meant to be easy but rather to give us purpose. Being knocked down doesn’t rid you from your purpose, it just gives you a new challenge filled with new memories and goals.
You’re not going to become a world-class writer if you don’t figure out a plan to put your work into the world. The plan doesn’t stop at just writing each day and hoping it goes well. A publisher won’t just stumble into your house one day, happen upon your manuscript and offer to publish with an upfront £50k sum. You need to write each day while researching trends. You need to research trends while thinking about your audience. While thinking about your audience, you need to read what your audience are reading. While reading, you need to think about in what ways your writing is not only similar to this work, but what makes it unique. While thinking about what’s unique, you need to tell an agent why your writing deserves to be sold. When selling your writing, you need to think about how to market. While marketing you need to communicate with your fans. When communicating with your fans, you need to figure out what they’re looking for and how it will make your writing better.
At the end of the day, however, we don’t need a solid plan, we just need to get our footing on the cycle and a general direction to pedal towards. Once we’re on, the cycle goes on and on, just remember, once you get going, it’s still possible to fall off but at least you know you’ve got on board before, so you can always do it again.