"Whatever it is that you love, talk to the world about it. You’re one piece of content away from what you want to happen." – Gary Vaynerchuk
Finding Your Voice
Let’s face it, in this day and age, making a name for yourself in the digital world is one of the hardest things you could ever do. You are putting in the hours, making sure that you didn’t leave any stone unturned, double-checked, and even triple-checked your work, and after second-guessing yourself for who knows how long, you finally hit that magical “publish” button.
A surge of excitement went through your body, confident that people would start responding to your masterpiece. You wait for those likes to come in, anticipating hundreds of shares from all those people whom you’ve touched with your writing. Then surprisingly, nothing happens. All you are left with are a few likes from your friends and family who just so happened to stumble upon your work (gee, thanks a lot, mom). A bit anticlimactic if you might say.
You got to admit, posting an article online, at times, really feels like a chore. But still, undaunted by your failures, you press on. Only this time, you’ve learned your lesson. You’ve meticulously researched the topic you wanted to write about, hand-picked the best images on the web to keep your readers engaged, and after all that is done, you posted in just the right time on your Facebook feed in “peak hours” to gain more traction. Still, nothing happens.
All the while, you can’t help but compare yourself to other writers who quote-unquote “made it”. Wondering when you will achieve the heights they’ve seen and the fame that they relished. You start to wonder then if this writing thing that you’ve tried out is for you. In fact, the easy way out is just right around the corner, beckoning you to throw in the towel and consume more episodes of your favorite show on Netflix instead.
Maybe it is right to give up on your dreams of “making it” as a writer. Maybe it is wise to stay in your 9-5 job forever. Maybe it is beneficial to pursue a traditional path instead. Maybe it is time to face the music that we so desperately are covering our ears from.
The Traditional Path
With the economy of the Philippines slowly plunging to the depths of a recession, it is understandable that our elders are advocating for a more traditional path for us. Because, whether you believe it or not, all they want is for you to have a chance to be dealt better cards by the hands of fate. Even if it means sacrificing pursuing your passions for quite some time.
We have been raised all our lives to study hard, get into a reputable college, land a high paying job in a respectable company, and maybe get married and have some kids later on. Take note, falling in love and building a family is only up for grabs if, and only if, you already finished the other three requirements stated before it.
Even if you just happen to find yourself lucky to be able to make a living out of your passions, the competition is high and the proverbial mountain that you’re about to climb would be steep. With the emergence of online jobs and work-from-home set-ups, you find hundreds, if not thousands, of people wanting to get into the trend of being a digital nomad. Thinking that it would give them the most bang for their buck.
You will inevitably find yourself sitting in a corner, contemplating whether you made the right choice or not. To add further unease, you will feel the pressure of giving money to your loved ones breathing down your neck. Sadly, in this unfair world, the only ones who can pursue their passions effortlessly are the elites who live in their ivory towers – safe and secure from all the adversities that we, the somehow less fortunate, found ourselves stuck in.
I once had a conversation with a friend of mine who took the plunge of going into freelancing despite the difficulties. We talked in-depth about all the problems he faced while choosing to tread down this path. There were numerous times that I hear him mentioning his inability to buy the gear needed for the task at hand. He said that he should have made a long enough runway for himself when it comes to savings before going “all-in” making a living out of his passions.
Well, you could argue that gear is not the end be-all and end-all when it comes to quality filmmaking, and of course, savings should be an absolute priority. Still, you can’t help but feel a bit inferior to the vast majority of content creators out there that your potential client is eyeing to hire. If only they teach us this in school, then we would have been better equipped in facing the troubled waters we set our courses to.
The Road Less Traveled
So, what then should we do? Should we throw in the towel and call it quits? Should we let the giant staring down at us win the battle for our souls? Should we abandon our passions all together and finally take a shot at that secure life that everybody is nudging us towards?
The answer is, no. To say yes to these temptations would only disappoint the kid that’s inside all of us; that child who was never afraid to dream big dreams in the first place. There is no other option but to fight back, and continue marching towards the fabled “promise-land“.
The cards that fate dealt us may not be favorable, but there is something to be admired about those people who braved the wilderness despite the fear of the unknown. This may mean staying at your 9-5 job for a while. This may mean dealing with your co-worker who doesn’t seem to understand you. This may mean saving up a few pennies every month in hopes of buying that camera or lens you always wanted. This may mean holding on tighter to those last remaining embers of passion in your soul, even if the winds of winter are trying to endlessly snuff it out.
Whatever that looks like in your life, only you can answer that. For we all have a bunch of stuff we have to grit our teeth to in order to reach the peak of the mountain. However, in my part, this is what it looks like: it means continually putting in the work, day in and day out when it comes to my writing. Praying that, sooner or later, more people would notice all the heart that I put into these pieces.
It means not worrying about all the people who criticize my work. It is my work. It is my idea. It is my story. I’m allowed to be proud of it. This also means not worrying about not monetizing my blog too early. For if you love what you do so much, time would eventually quicken and the money will come to you when you least expect it.
This means being thankful for those likes and comments that come from people who read my work the most, instead of appeasing every single person’s standards here on the internet. For who are you doing this for anyway? Is it for others, or yourself? Are you doing it for the money or the love of the art? Because the easiest way to burn-out is to constantly worry about what other people think.
Now, that doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t care about what other people would think. For criticism, at least the constructive ones, are what’ll enable you to transcend the imaginary boundaries you have set upon yourself. Just make sure that you’re choosing the right audience. And constantly remind yourself that all these gifts have been given to you from above; I figured that having that mindset would be the thing that will make you float back to earth the most.
Laying hold of this truth, let us be then the epitome of the difference we want to see in our world — raising our voices in a society that incessantly tries to drown them out. Embrace the tailwind that is pressing us towards the direction our hearts are longing for. It may be a long and tedious path, but I know for a fact that it would be worth it. Because, when of all this is said and done, I’d rather fail in doing the things that I love than endure the sting of regret all the days of my life.
About the Author
Joshua Miguel is a Metro Manila-based external contributor for the VONAS X Blog. Part of the campaign that Team X initiated is receiving input from our independent creatives outside our network to showcase talent and potential. One idea sparked by a desire and interest is enough to make ripples of changes in the creative field.