I was once told the secret to success is obsessive, relentless persistence. I struggle not to call bullshit.
As a teenager, my dream was to be an actor and I didn’t really see it as a dream, more like, what was going to happen. I rejected my parents’ foolish talk of backup plans because backup plans were for non-believers and at fifteen years old, trust me, I believed in myself. I had the typical insecurities about boys, my weight, my skin, blah, blah, blah but when it came to my future, when it came to acting, well there was no question. I’d be an actress, I’d win an Oscar, and then I’d win another. Believing in my dream was the easy part. What I failed to realize was the work it would take to get there.
My biggest distraction was sex, maybe not sex but, this longing to experience everything, especially love and intimacy. I was raised by two strict, Caribbean parents that kept me on the shortest leash possible so I put all of my energy into breaking free. The energy was misplaced to say the least. Instead of focusing on goals that would propel me forward, I looked for adventure that would let me escape, even if only for a moment.
So, I went out and I got me some! First kiss at fifteen, first real boyfriend at sixteen, virginity lost at sixteen and then boom, first baby born at seventeen. For most, the dreaming would stop there but luckily for me, my teenage delusion was strong. I thought, “A kid? That’s alright, now I’ll just have a sidekick to accompany me to the top!” (In all honesty, I was freaking the fuck out…I could write about one hundred posts about being sixteen and pregnant and they’d all be filled with pure horror… but I still knew I’d reach my goal, simply because I wanted to).
Life marched on. My relationship ended, another began and boy did I just KNOW that this one was it! My childlike sense of invincibility didn’t dissipate until I was well into adulthood. It wasn’t until my second baby came along at twenty-three that I knew my dream was dead. Of course I could still do everything necessary to become an actress but to me that meant being a bad mother, putting my needs before theirs and that wasn’t an option, not then, not now, not ever.
I experienced a deep depression after my second son was born. It wasn’t post-partum; it had nothing to do with having a baby (in fact my second child has always given me a sense of peace…another blog for another day) but soon after having him I realized that I put my greatest dream to rest in order to fight for this picture of a family that wasn’t going to happen. My relationship with his father crumbled in as much of a whirlwind as it was created and the one thing I had a passion for was no longer a viable life choice. Depression doesn’t begin to describe the darkness of that time. I was in my mid-twenties, two kids, on my own, at a daily funeral for any hope for the future.
I learned to stop dreaming. In fact, I avoided it. I didn’t set goals; hell, I didn’t even make to-do lists. The real, tangible option of failure was too overwhelming. I can’t fail if I don’t try. That was my mastered motto. I worked a day job, I focused on my kids and I cringed any time anyone asked me about a five-year plan. I’d protect my heart by never wanting anything again. As long as my kids were okay, screw any personal desires. That mess just got me in trouble anyway.
That can only last for so long. I’m creative. I’m driven. I’m hard working. I knew as a teenager that I was meant to shine. At that age it was this naïve sense of invincibility, the feeling that life would happen the way I wanted it to just because I wanted it to and nothing bad would happen to me or get in my way because well, nothing ever had before.
The perfect recipe for failure: Naivety+Talent+Entitlement.
But the tables have turned. Now I’m in a place where I’m not itching to shine but to share, share my stories, my experiences and oh hell, shine a little bit too, to be an unapologetic and fearless writer. Remember what it felt like to be fearless? God, I envy children. I’m terrified because this time I’m enlightened to the possibility of failure. Failure is likely. I know I have the work ethic and the resilience to make my dreams come true, but now I’m scared, scared that even if I do work my ass off the dream may still not come true. I hear the teachings that I can do anything, any fucking thing I put my mind to and my gut reaction is, “Yeah, maybe”. I doubt because I’ve lost a dream before, a dream that I loved more than anything in this world.
But the thing is…I didn’t put the work into that dream. I got distracted. Life kicking me in the ass? Ninety percent of those flesh wounds were self-inflicted. Maybe I can try again and do it differently this time. Maybe this time I can stay focused and make it happen.
So here I am, taking a leap of faith. I want to be a writer. I still want to act but I’ll wait for my babies to be full-grown before I pursue that again. They still come first. But in the meantime, I want to write and write and write. I wrote a novel that I love and am excited to put out into the world. I’m going to share some of it here along with my other writings. My stories are short and sweet and dirty and sometimes bizarre. I like them and hope you will too. I need to combine my teenage assuredness with my adult work ethic and make this happen. Do I believe that my dreams will come true if I’m obsessively, relentlessly persistent? Is that really the secret to success? I guess there’s only one way to find out.