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Kid, you're gonna starve.

Kid, you're gonna starve.

Have you ever heard the term living the dream? It’s pretty self-explanatory. People use it a lot when they talk about jobs. You’re either living the dream or you’re down in the trenches. Sadly there are many people out there who are not living the dream or anything remotely close to the dream. They are locked in jobs they hate, trudge through their weeks counting the hours until the weekend and sit in long lines of traffic every day to go places they don’t want to go and do things they don’t want to do. The dream I’m talking about is the one where you finally step off the treadmill and find something you're actually passionate about doing. It takes a lot of guts to step off the treadmill, I know that because when I was 25 I stepped off. 

I chose my first job not because it’s what I wanted to do but because it was what I thought I was supposed to do. If I’m being completely honest though, the decision came mostly out of fear. That fear was echoed in a conversation I had, had with one of my professors in my senior year of college when he asks me what I planned to do once I graduated. If everything worked out the way I had planned, I was looking at a promising career as an art director with a small advertising agency who offered to hire me once I graduated. The practical part of me was totally on board with that decision. The problem was the impractical side wasn’t. What I really wanted to do was draw cartoons. I know, I know, believe me, I told myself the same thing you’re probably thinking right now. What kind of living could I possibly make drawing cartoons? It was like that moment in Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer where Herbie the Elf confesses he wants to be, ... a dentist!

I knew what I wanted was crazy, it was more than just a long shot to make a living drawing cartoons. To even say it out loud took more courage than I could muster at the time so when my professor asked me about my plans I blurted out that I wanted to be an illustrator. I guess I just thought it sounded better than cartoonist. I thought maybe it sounded like I knew what I was doing or something. I might as well have just said cartoonist though because as soon as the words tumbled out of my mouth I instantly regretted it. He just laughed at me and said, “Kid, you’re gonna starve. Nobody makes any money doing that. Go into advertising, that’s where the real money is.” So I gave into my fear, told myself I had made the wise decision and did exactly that. For four years my practical side did the best it could to stick with the plan. Whenever I talked with anyone about it they assured me I had made a wise choice but to me, it didn’t feel like the wise choice. It felt more like a small piece of me inside was dying every single day. What was dying I realized was my passion so one day I quit that job and found a job working as an illustrator. It was for a toy company where I got to draw cartoons all day long. It was amazing, my spirit soared. I was finally making a living doing exactly what I feared would lead me to a life of poverty and ruin. Was this what it felt like to be living the dream?

That one decision to follow my passion has lead me in incredible directions in my lifetime and in my career. I've had a lot of jobs since that first one but each of those jobs were something I was deeply passionate about and that's made all the difference. It has not always been easy and sometimes when the going gets tough I think back to that conversation... “Kid you’re gonna starve..."  but I know when I hear those words in my head it's really just my own fears and insecurities attempting to reassert themselves. And when that happens I know I have one of two choices, I can indulge my darkest fears or I can remember the great joy of living a life of passion, of living the dream. What are you passionate about? Is it present in your life or is it something you're afraid to even voice? What would happen if you actually said it out loud? What would happen if it became a direction in your life you began to follow?