Camila Cabello’s recent Instagram post resonated with me. She wrote: “When we were 8 years old and we were asked what we wanted to be when we grow up, we would say things like astronaut and scientist and inventor and ballet dancer. but somewhere along the way that little light in us dims and the voice of fear becomes so loud we can’t even hear the voice of our passions anymore. the voice of fear can sound like ur own doubts, it can sound like mean people, it can even sound like ur family or friends- people that laugh at ur dreams like u will never reach them. So we grow up and we settle. we work in jobs we hate. we pick majors we don’t even care about. we stay in places where we cannot express ourselves. we play it safe. and every other person that sacrificed that little kid in them will act like its the normal thing to do. when u choose to take the risk, people will act like you’re the craziest person in the world. GOOD. don’t be normal. Dont let anybody, not even yourself, stop u from becoming who you want to become. don’t let anybody tell you who they think you should become. ur life is a blank canvas. and u can choose any colors u want. so dream big. be kind. work REALLY hard. and no matter how old u get, never ever ever grow up.”
This resonates with me for a few reasons, the strongest being I feel like I’m one of those people who gave up.
For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be an actress, singer, and model. But I didn’t want to struggle, in case I didn’t succeed. I didn’t want to risk a future of being poor and homeless, so I’ve settled for a steady paycheck and my old room in my parents house.
Reading Camila’s post made me really sad, and actually start to hate myself. Because I’m good at singing. I’m good at modeling. I’m good at acting. Had I stayed in California and actually went for it, really tried, I think I had a decent shot at making it.
That being said, I didn’t do it… and I shouldn’t be beating myself up for that.
I agree that we should all dream big and we should all work hard, but some people don’t get to chase their dreams. Some people have families to take care of, and fulfilling your dream of spending your life savings jetting off to new exotic countries every month is not going to put food on the table.
If you’re one of those people who gave up on your dream to “play it safe” so to speak – that’s okay.
I’m not saying that either choice is better or more admirable. I’m saying that whatever path you choose, it’s your path, and you shouldn’t feel bad about it.
If you’re chasing your dream and people think you’re reckless and crazy, let them think that. Chase your dream. If you gave up on your dream and people think you’re responsible and financially stable but you’re not passionate about what you do and you’re not happy, then find small moments you can take joy in. Find your passion, maybe it’s not in work, maybe you sit for an hour each weekend and paint, but do what works for you and your specific situation.
I don’t think I was ever more carefree than when I studied abroad in London, because that was a once in a lifetime experience for me. That’s what I kept reminding myself whenever something came up that I wanted: when will you ever get the chance to do this again? Want to spend your birthday at Disneyland in Paris? Yes! Want to spend Spring Break in Rome? Absolutely! Want to fall in love in a foreign country, even though there will probably be negative repercussions with the chosen love interest? Go for it. Want to go to a red carpet premiere? Sign me up! Want to go cliff jumping? Why the hell not?!
Since I’ve been home, however, I’m back to the reality of: there will always be another chance. Want to see a movie? I can see it next weekend. Want to go out for drinks after work? There will be more happy hours. Want to go on vacation? I need to save more money. I can go on vacation next year.
I was taught to save, and I save money very well. I don’t buy things I can’t afford, I pay my credit card bill off in full every month, I budget for the things I want and need and I stick to that. I’m so used to that security, that it’s the main reason I came back to STL.
When I was in Anaheim, I hardly ever went out for drinks or to dinner with my friends. I never went shopping for fun, only for groceries. I didn’t have fun because I wasn’t making any money, and since I wasn’t able to save I made my spending as scarce as possible. Which was the responsible thing, I’m sure, but that also kept me from really living in the moment. I have the same problem now, as long as I live at home, I feel like I need to be saving more than half my paycheck, because why else am I living at home if not to save money?
To be honest, that’s holding me back.
If I ask myself what I really and truly want, it’s to go back to Anaheim and be with the man that I love. It would be reckless. It would be crazy. It would be stupid – quitting my job and just moving back there with no plan.
I want to be reckless and crazy. I want to do it.
But I can’t. And I won’t.
I am not a reckless or crazy person. I was not raised that way, I was not built that way.
So I’m playing it safe.
I am biding my time and saving my money in the hopes that someday a better job will come along for me, I’ll meet someone new who lives in my city and fall in love again, I’ll get a raise and be able to get my own place…
Those things may never happen.
Just like I may have spent years auditioning in LA and never booked the role I needed to start my career, I may spend years trying to get a better job and find a husband here, and never find that.
So it’s really not about the choices that we make, it’s about how we react to those.
I have options: I can quit my job, buy a plane ticket, fly to Anaheim, stay with a friend, and see what happens. I can choose love. I can choose passion. I can forget what my family might think of me because it’s MY life, and I shouldn’t be worried about making them happy, I should be worried about making myself happy.
I can stay here. I can keep going to work, keep talking to people and making connections, trying my hardest to work my way into a leadership position, into a salaried position, into a more creative position. I can be the person my parents raised me to be, someone they are proud of. I can choose security. I can choose safety. I can choose comfort.
And I have to be okay with that.
I’ll be honest with you – I haven’t been working on my novel because I’m afraid to. It’s my dream to finish it, for people to love it, for me to get to go on a book tour, write more books, and one day one of those books be made into a movie, and then I get to move back to Cali. But maybe I’ll finish it, and no one will publish it, and no one will ever read it, and I will have spend most of my life on this project for nothing. I couldn’t bare that – so I do nothing. The ideas sit in my head.
They say “don’t ever give up,” … but you know those people who got on American Idol and said all their friends and family told them they could sing, but they couldn’t – they were honestly horrible, and Simon told them that career wasn’t for them. Sometimes that is what happens – sometimes it’s not for you – sometimes you should give up. But nobody can tell you when to do that – you have to decide on your own.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, it’s okay if you gave up on the little kid inside of you to be safe, but you need to be okay with that. You need to look in the mirror every day and confidently tell yourself you made the right decision because you wanted comfort, and that is what you chose.
If you’re still chasing that dream from that little kid inside of you, you need to be okay with that. Maybe you’re not as successful as you wanted to be, maybe you’ll spend your whole life trying, but people will talk about you. They will say you never gave up. They will admire you. They will envy you.
If you’re angry about your choice, if you’re sad, if you’re confused… you can choose again.
That’s the thing about being human, we can always choose again. You’re not stuck in your house or your job or even your relationship – if you are unhappy, you can make the change.
Some of us need a push – I’ll raise my hand on that – that’s exactly what I need. I don’t know what I need to push me, exactly, but eventually something will push me over the edge – in either direction – and I will make a drastic change.
I don’t want to be known as the girl who gave up, but I also don’t want to be known as the girl who threw her life away to chase something that wasn’t meant for her.
I’m going to start with baby steps, I’m going to try to start posting regular videos on YouTube to see if anyone likes my singing. I’m going to try to start working on my book – regularly. I’m going to get new headshots and see if my agent can find any jobs here for me.
But I’m also going to keep going to work, and saving my money, and praying for a change, until it gets to be too much, and I do something different.
Don’t feel like you aren’t enough exactly the way you are with exactly what you are doing. You are enough, you are perfect. What you’re going through is shaping you and strengthening you for what is to come. Maybe you’re not ready now, but you will be.
It’s not all about chasing dreams. Dreams can change.
You’re exactly where you need to be.