have courage

Synopsis update: My mom has decided to help me out. She shocked me with a one-paragraph effort that is not terrible. So. It seems I finally have a place to begin.


Most of us know that it takes courage to start something. To take that first step, to be the first (or one of the first) to speak up.

Why is it so scary, though? Because those actions bring change. Change makes me anxious. Of course, change can be a great thing. Sometimes change is a necessary thing. Sometimes comfort isn’t what’s best for us. Sometimes.

Shortly before I finished film school, I had ideas regarding the future. A move to LA, the hunt for a job, the quest for a career in TV or film–writing, either way. Sadly, I didn’t take the necessary steps to develop those ideas into a plan. So when graduation finally came around and it was time to leave, I decided instead to return home to Chicago, relax, do a victory lap (celebrating my graduation), work some, save some, and move to LA soon after.

That was three years ago.

To be fair, I planned on taking about a year, so I’m really only two years behind schedule. 🙂 But as a friend recently pointed out to me, it doesn’t appear that I’m going to be ready anytime soon. I haven’t saved enough. I haven’t really saved anything. Not that I’m a spender, just that my job doesn’t pay enough to cover my bills, pay for food, and leave me money to save. And psychologically… I think I’ve regressed, just a little. I feel less independent than how I felt at film school. It was an exciting, scary time. Life today really isn’t that exciting.

When I was little, I thought a lot about what I’d do as an adult. I had different career aspirations then. A doctor or musician or President. I was on a good track to become a musician… just not the kind of musician I actually wanted to be.

I ended up taking a lot of unexpected detours after my dad died. I’m not trying to lay blame, except on myself. Out of all my reactions, the one I think that I never paid attention was fear. I became afraid. Of life, maybe. Oh, I’m not a wuss. There are a lot of things I should be afraid of that don’t concern me. But there are a lot of things that I shouldn’t care about that, on some level, terrify me to my soul. Failure, rejection, risk… they scare me. Not in all things, which is why I can securely say I’m not a wuss. 🙂 I think, though, it’s failure at life. Rejection at life. Risk at life–not the physical kind–but the other kind.

It’s a tragic irony that I’ve set my sights on an industry that’s loaded with all of those possibilities.

My friend asked me last night how ready I would be to go with him to LA next spring. I spent a long time trying to determine my answer. The best, most honest response I could finally come up with was I don’t know. Fear makes it hard to think, difficult to analyze. Fear takes the truth and stretches it out of proportion. Fear can lie. Fear can blind.

Courage is the natural answer, of course. But courage requires will and strength. If you’re unaware of your strength, of where you may find it, or if you even have it, courage is a difficult thing to possess. Another friend of mine says that when all else fails, just fake it. Yeah, I’ve faked it before, but I’m not sure I ever realized at the time that I was faking it. My mom says a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do. Yeah. There’s truth in that. We all tend to do what we have to do.

It’s come back again to know what I want to do, what I need to do with my life. That hasn’t changed, thankfully, or perhaps not thankfully. It might… might be easier if I turned my thoughts to something more mundane like a 9-to-5 job, settling down in the Chicago burbs, and didn’t think about writing ever again. But I can’t do that. Writers know they can’t do anything else except write.

Is there courage in knowing that? I hope so. I could use a little courage right now.


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