Hopefully in a month I will have finally finished my bachelor’s in environmental science. It’s been a very odd ride and I’d be lying if I said it was amazing 100% the whole time, because there were some years that really sucked.
As I mentioned a few times a month ago I went to the Texas Teen Book Festival in Austin and I noticed that a main theme from the talks from the authors was following your dreams. Mindy Kaling actually gave advice in how to succeed via the academic rout of entertainment while YA author Laini Taylor mentioned that sometimes following your dreams involves living a harder life or possibly even keeping it as a part time thing in terms of income.
Today I’d like to thank my parents for doing something many parents are unsure about when raising their procreation statistic from birth to eighteen (or sooner). From friends that are parents I’ve been told that they do feel bad about telling their kids to a certain rout of academia for the sake of job security. My parents did something different than most other parents, they let me follow my dreams. Granted I didn’t really have goals as a teenager. I had other concerns in life that at the time made up most of my anxiety than most of my peers.
I did have three dreams though; become an author or writer, become a YouTube celebrity, go into stand up comedy. During highschool I did go through the culinary arts program, and although I did love it very much and got accepted to Cordon Bleu, I had to be honest with myself and realize I couldn’t handle the stress of being a chef (ironically those skills have proved the most useful in my adult life). The dream of being a YouTube celebrity was also thrown out the window since I had no access to fancy recording equipment (I got my first digital camera at 18) and YouTube just wasn’t what it is now at the time. So that left being an author or writer.
I was never open about being a stand up comedian, essentially because I was quiet with everyone but my small group of friends. In Speech class when we were offered to do a presentation as our final exam, I asked if I could do five minutes of stand up. My teacher gave me the greenlight under the condition that I couldn’t swear, make any innuendos, insult or make fun of my classmates, no racial slurs (not even poking fun at hispanic heritage), and plagiarize any other stand up routines. I followed the guidelines, got my classmates to laugh, and got an A+. I followed my better judgment and set aside that dream.
When I expressed my dream of being an author many adults thought it applied to being a journalist (they may have been onto something since I do enjoy doing book and movie reviews). When I said I wanted to write stories other adults would pull the race card and think I wanted to write about my Hispanic heritage and whatever struggles I had in life based on it. And while I think those stories are great and I can relate to a few of them, it’s a gimmick and we all know how I feel about those.
What I wanted to write about was essentially my own stories of a variety of people joining forces and overcoming differences to fight evil, badass girls using magic to save the day, and to be honest I wanted to write lgbt stories from the start. I wanted to write lgbt characters doin things you didn’t see them doing at the time (and even now don’t see them doing so often), I wanted to write them as something beyond the stereotype of flashy clothes, being bitchy, etc. I wanted to show them as performing cool magic stuff, using swords, having layers in their personality beyond “token gay friend”.
The Reality of Following Dreams
First there is nothing wrong with following your dreams, but it requires work. Maybe it’s because the college I applied to last minute and got a scholarship for doesn’t really have a good English program (I will show no mercy to that English department and it’s apathetic professors), maybe it’s because I was better at free writing than actual scholarly essays, maybe it’s because I didn’t put the full effort in school that I was claiming to at the time that I just wasn’t enjoying “following my dream”.
My only experience for writing when I was a teenager were sucky essays that were written by hand (oh thank you Gay man who helped invent the computer) and typing out sucky blogs that I deleted a LONG time ago.
During my year of being eighteen I wrote two books. I have them hidden away on a USB and backed up in a Google Drive folder and I don’t want to look at them. But I had felt it was a great accomplishment to do at the time. I kind of still think it’s an accomplishment that I did such a thing at that age in such a small frame of time compared to how many unfinished projects I have now.
It took a lot to accept that my dream wasn’t working out. I had professors that would tell me there was something wrong with my writing and only one of them bothering to help me improve myself. After a close friend had died from suicide I sat down with another friend, handed a short story, and asked if I should continue pursuing this dream. He was honest and said that while the creativity and imagination was there, there was no talent. I accepted the answer and changed my degree the following morning.
I didn’t cry over my dead dream, I had told my parents that I was changing my major, they were happy I was going for a worthwhile degree in biology (which would later go to environmental science). I decided to stop writing and concentrate on other parts in life that needed fixing up at the time.
Post Dream Life
I did return to writing about two years ago because I felt a burst of creativity in terms of stories. I decided to revisit one of my two books written and felt that it deserved a second chance of being rewritten, and that’s what I’m doing right now.
I have decided to take the advice of Laini Taylor and set my dream as part time rather than full time.
Finally, thank you again mom and dad. You accepted a risk many parents are scared to let their children follow, you didn’t do a “I told you so” like some parents would when I failed at my dreams, and you supported any and all decisions I made.