This article first appeared at http://pastelwasteland.com/creator/creatortalk-dont-you-dare-give-up/
The ticking clock is an illusion.
When I tell people I have a passion for filmmaking and have been steadily building towards it for almost a decade, I’ve had a few responses. Many are positive, with people wishing me well, asking to see my work and even asking how they could get into such a thing.
Then there are the others. A number of people have stared at me blankly. “That’s great, but what’s your real job?” or “Why aren’t you famous yet if you’ve been doing it so long?” (true story).
You see, as a society we have an obsession with youth culture- it’s been the same way for a long time. As a society, we see the wunderkinds achieving dreams at crazy young ages. There are teenagers blowing up in music and film, unfathomably young YouTube stars raking in money we could only dream of.
The problem is, what about the rest of us? Only a few people will ever have the luck to make it super young. It is instinctive and natural to compare ourselves to others in our respective fields, and think “well if they have achieved that at this age, surely I should have done that… and more. I’m 25for God sake”.
25. A quarter of a century. Wow. In real terms, I’m actually closer to 26 now. And I’ve heard this from people my age, and at 35, 45 and older.
I read an analogy recently, by author MARIE-CLAIRE KUJA. It summed up all of my feelings around this issue. Here is a snippet of what she wrote:
New York is threehours ahead of California, but that does not make California slow
Cameroon is six hours ahead of New York but it does not make New York slow.
Someone graduated from college at 22 but waited five years before securing a job.
Someone became a CEO at 25 but died at 50.
Someone became a CEO at 50 but lived to 90 years.
Absolutely, everyone in this world works based on their own time zone.
People around you might seem to be ahead of you.
That’s total fine. Some are behind you.
Everyone is running their own race in their own time zone.
Don’t envy or mock them.
They are in their own time zone and you are in yours.
Life is about waiting for the right moment to react.
Doesn’t that make you feel better? Even just a little bit?
You see, I’ve struggled with these feelings for as long as I’ve had this as a dream. As a teenager, I started early, securing placements on the set of huge films, getting good responses for my early work. And of course, me and everyone around me had the feeling it was coming quite easily.
But these things never come easily. Those experiences, and my passion in the last decade has built a foundation. That’s what I’ve been building since I was 14. A foundation that has kept me strong when dealing with crazy amount of rejection and critique. A foundation that has supported me even when every possible sign has pointed towards me giving in.
If you get your dream handed to you at a young age, and only a few people ever do, there is a huge risk that your inexperience could one day be your undoing. There are countless reports of child stars who seemed to be en-route to amazing careers, but they didn’t have the guidance or support to keep them from being lead down a dark road. And of course, some manage to navigate the waters and have hugely successful career. But we are all on our own journey. Our own time zones, if you will.
Some people achieved magical things before the age of 27, and then passed away suddenly. And that was the end of their journey. Some people didn’t get started until 40, and are still achieving amazing successes.
So build that foundation. Build a thick skin and be ready for the ride. Take a few minutes to get out of your head, experience life, enjoy the moment. Whatever you are doing, whatever you are building towards, you’ve taken the scariest step- putting yourself out there. Now is the time to bring everything you have, knock down doors, keep building your foundations and become unstoppable.
Don’t you dare give up. The ticking clock is an illusion.