On Following Your Dreams

Let's talk about dreams.

I know, I know, you're probably tired of hearing me talk about dreams.

"Cass, seriously? Are we going to do this again with the whole DREAMS thing? We get it, you have dreams. Someone give this girl a trophy."

First of all, ouch.

Second of all, yesterday I got one small step closer to achieving something I never thought would be possible - so yes, we're talking about dreams today. Sorry, friend.

But first, I want to tell you a little bit about myself.

When I was a kid, I always knew that I wanted to be a writer. In grade one, we were supposed to write a short story - 5 pages, with big ugly words and scrawly pictures. I remember handing in double that and being frustrated that I couldn't write more. As a child, I consumed books of all kinds; I couldn't get enough of them. As I grew up, I spent hours on dial-up AOL, role-playing with my friends and writing made-up stories with them. By the time I was finished high school, I'd written hundreds of pages of stories including a sci-fi novel.

All of this is to say, writing has always been my thing. My passion. My talent.

I just never thought my writing could ever be anything other than a hobby. I never thought I could ever actually make money writing. I never thought it could be my job. I was supposed to grow up and work in an office...and work for a big business because isn't that what grown ups do? They commute to work and go over numbers and carry briefcases and wear high-heels and stylish glasses. They're bored but work is work and money is money and money is the most important thing ever, right?

So I slogged through teaching, living paycheck to paycheck. All my decisions were made for me by the company. I had no autonomy or responsibility. I had no voice in what I was doing. I had no way to make more money besides get another job on top of my teaching job. As I told you before, I was miserable. I was completely and utterly miserable.

When I quit, I didn't know where to go from there. I knew that I didn't want want to work for a big corporation but it felt like that's all there was out there. I felt hopeless - I didn't want to find a new job just to be shackled again. I didn't want to just be another cog in a wheel. I wanted to make my own money without having a big chunk of it taken out and given to some nameless, faceless entity.

Somehow, while my searching for a new job, I stumbled upon freelance writing. It piqued my interest and I started reading everything I could about it. It seemed ideal - I could work from home. I could go to coffee shops. I could work all night if I wanted and sleep all day. I could travel and still keep my job. But most importantly, I could make money doing something I love to do. My work ethic and dedication would dictate how much I made...and I'm nothing if not a hard worker.

And so, I started writing more articles for my portfolio. I got an editor/mentor to help me with my pitches. I joined some Facebook groups for freelancers. I re-did this website (doesn't it look beautiful?!), and I got my Twitter back up and running. I told C that this was what I was going to do now. This was going to be my future career, and damnit, nothing was going to stop me.

Yesterday, I got news that my first pitch was picked up by a website....and I'll be making more money on that one article than I made in one day in my previous job.

I'm ecstatic.

I have a long, long way to go. This is just the first step in a marathon. But it feels so significant because it's a start. It's the beginning of realizing my childhood dream - realizing my potential. I can't even begin to explain how excited I am to see this through. I can't wait to see where I can go and what I can do now that I finally have a direction.

I may be broke. I may have holes in my shoes. I may take transit to my retail job. I may have a food budget and I may have to watch my bank account like a hawk. I may not have a lot of money, but I have a way out now. I have hope. I have something fulfilling in my life that gives me purpose.

Next year at this time, things are going to be completely different. By the time I'm 30, I'm going to look back to today and smile because this was my first project and this was the start of an entirely new life.

So, I urge you....if you have a dream, any kind of dream, start working towards it today. Start today, because it's going to take a lot of work and determination and grit, blood, sweat, and tears and it's going to be a goddamn ORDEAL. But chasing your dream will also be the best thing you ever do. It will make you look forward to waking up in the morning. It will be the thing that gets you through your boring job. It will be the thing that sets you on fire again. It will consume you in the best way possible.

And one day in the future you'll look back on that first day the same way I will - with relief and admiration that you took that chance however many years ago.


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