seven things I wish I'd known when I was younger

Life is full of lessons. Unfortunately, there’s no handbook. And let’s be real: even if there was one, we probably wouldn’t read it. We’d struggle along anyway, convinced that we know the ins and outs without the need for instructions, setting up our lives like it’s nothing more than a bookshelf from IKEA. Still, there are a few lessons I wish I’d been privy to. It would have saved me time. It would have saved me all those years ‘in the trenches’ with nothing but my self-doubt for company. Here are seven things I wish I’d known when I was younger.

 

1. Take Chances

There are a million reasons not to try. You could fill a stadium with those reasons: What if it’s the wrong decision? What if you’re not good enough? What if you fail? If you never try, that’s the same as failure. Success is rooted in taking chances. Don’t wait for permission. You may not get it—nor do you need it.

 

2. Don’t Wait

It’s easy to put off doing the things you want to do simply out of complacency. Don’t wait until you’re ready. You’ll never be ready. Ready is a perpetually mythical state of being, much like the notion of ‘One day…’ It simply doesn’t exist. There’s only now.

 

3. Do the Work

How many times have you told yourself ‘I really want to XYZ, if only I had the time/skills/money/[insert excuse here]’? It’s a hard lesson to learn but despite the reasons we concoct for ourselves—often so legitimately constructed that we start to believe them—the only thing holding us back is ourselves. If you’ve got something you want to do, do it. Don’t invent obstacles. Instead, take steps to get to where you want to be. Inspiration won’t show up unless you do. Dreams won’t work unless you do. Do the work.

 

4. Don’t Live According to Someone Else

Family, friends, and society in general, all have an ideal when it comes to how we should be living. There is no shortage of expectations—and if/when you go against the grain, be prepared for some major backlash and guilt. But do it anyway. If you want something that is seen to be outside of the norms, this response is inevitable. Just remember: no one else can or should determine what you do with your time or your life. Live according to your wants and needs and let other people’s opinions take a backseat.

 

5. Don’t Let Fear Dictate

Fear of failure or even (mind-blowingly) fear of success can cripple you. Don’t let it. Acknowledge the fact that fear is an absolutely routine factor when undertaking something new. Be afraid—but don’t let it stop you; let it challenge you.

 

6. Embrace Change

Changes are inevitable. Don’t fight them. Changes—be it changes within yourself or someone close to you, or even changes in your circumstances—can leave you feeling lost or have you hankering for the past like a nostalgic dreamer. The past is gone. It’s okay to open yourself to new interests and new people. Treasure your old memories but allow yourself to make new ones.

 

7. Acknowledge Your Differences

It’s okay to be different. It’s okay to be the odd one out. From an early age, we’re programmed with the need to ‘fit in’. With adulthood comes a liberating sense of self that can override that need. Embrace who you are and nurture your individuality. Carve your own path.

EDIT: This post was written around the time I decided to take writing seriously. Before that, blogging to me was nothing more than journalling. And writing was no more than a hobby and a pipe-dream. I keep this post as a reminder to myself to keep going. I should also clarify that the title ‘don’t dream, just write’ is merely emphasising the need for action.  By no means should you or I ever give up the dream, whatever that may be.

*******

Hello, Internet Diary of sorts… you trusty, patient fool, you! 

I only just went and broke the record for the longest waiting time ever between the first date and the ever elusive callback—and you’re still bloody here! Brownie points for you, my friend. In total, it’s been about seven years now, since I first met you, and told you my name. Hell, I still had the name of my youth then… come to think of it, I still had youth itself back then and all. 2008… *looks wistfully into space* 

So—did you bloody miss me?

No, no you didn’t, did you? 

Ah, well. Let’s not hold grudges. I didn’t exactly keep my end of the deal, did I? See—the thing is: I had really good intentions and a really well-nursed dream, and I thought to myself: all I need to do is set this shit up, whack a few bells on this baby, and just like that, things will fall into place. It’s the perfect plan, I thought to myself like a smug twit. 

So… I sit myself down in front of my lovely white page, on my lovely standard template, and I sit and sit, and think and think, and my head is suddenly filled with sand—and the blank page looks a brighter shade of white the more I stare at it, and slowly, I start to realise:

I have no fucking idea what I’m doing!

Obviously, you can see just how well-adjusted I am, since it took me about six years to recover my writing mojo after that.

“I thought to myself: all I need to do is set this shit up, whack a few bells on this baby, and just like that, things will fall into place. It’s the perfect plan, I thought to myself like a smug twit.”

 

Of course, as you well know, Internet, I came back last October—and did little more than copy and paste pretty much every single book review I’ve ever done on Goodreads in those last six years. If I’m being honest—in the dating world, that would equate to what?—a few late night booty calls maybe… at best… *sigh*

It’s not so much that the idea of an audience scared me, since as an aspiring author I fantasise about this on a regular, if not daily basis—it’s just that everything I’ve written has been gathering virtual dust for years—yes, even MORE years than these last six slash seven—and when that dusty, old crap does see the light of day it’s usually so I can wrangle with it, draft some more—edit and revise until my eyes start to bleed and my sanity is at breaking point. 

THIS jiggery-bloggery on the other hand… this is different. This is odd. For the love of all that is good and chocolatey, I haven’t got a clue what I’m MEANT to be doing, let alone actually getting started on doing it! What do I write about?—do I stick to my ‘field’, or do I be more personal? How should I write it? Should I be myself, and be open and engaging—or should I edit it to death, and try for professionalism? [Pah! Perish the thought!]

I don’t know where to draw the line on the bloodied-eyes scenario, and I struggle with the concept of that fine line between being myself and trying to keep it professional. Obviously, I should probably keep SOME cans of worms firmly shut, because quite frankly, some of that shit is just plain scary; yet, that which scares us is usually the very thing worth writing about. I guess I just need to find some balance, and sheer nerve… and I need to start thinking less about the ‘correct’ way to do this, and just bloody DO IT. 

So here I am. I’m here and I’m staying and I’m writing. 

shonamoyce.com

“that which scares us is usually the very thing worth writing about.”

 

Sometimes I’ll post serious topics because I do actually have a brain, contrary to everything this post suggests; and sometimes I’ll post crap, and if you don’t like it, people of Internet Land, I’ll just have to suck it up, won’t I? Because I’m a writer. And writers edit, and then they edit, and edit, and edit some more, until they suck a bit less, and dammit, if nothing else, this will be good development for that thick writerly skin everyone is always talking about.  

All of this, of course, is really only relevant on the off-chance that this blog ever generates interest in which case, if it doesn’t, the only real concern here is the fact that I’m about to cut a large chunk out of my time each week to ‘talk’ to myself. Ah well, what’s one more step on the path to glorious insanity?

Overall, I would just like to say, Internet: I am sorry to have been a plonker and a chicken-shit of the highest order, but I am back now, and I’m about to be a brilliantly delightful, UNSMUG twit (yep, still a twit), and my dream: now pulled out from under the bed—watered, fed, dusted, given an enema, etc—we are doing this thing! IN REAL LIFE this time, dammit!

Incidentally, prepare yourself—

Cans… opening…

Worms… EVERYWHERE.