Editorial | Issue 15
In my first draft of this week’s editorial I referred to myself as a writer, and I quickly became stuck on the idea. Was it really okay to refer to myself as a writer when I am only just getting started in my career? I know that I want to be a writer, a journalist. But what is the threshold that you pass over to go from aspiring to actual. When is the dream realised?
The source of my reflection was an ideas piece written by Andrew Katz in Time magazine. Following the death of Armando Montano, a 22-year old journalist in Mexico who was found dead at the bottom of an elevator shaft, Katz lamented that the memories of those who died young were too often reflected upon in relation to their aspirations or promise, rather than the very real achievements of their too short lives.
It is a valid critique, and something that’s worth thinking about. There is an attitude held by far too many that young people exist in some strange kind of limbo: waiting to start their lives properly, when they graduate, when they marry, when they have the dream job, the house, the family. The reality is that we are using up what little living we have right here and now. And what we do, and what we try to do, is important. Life is a limited resource and it’s quickly running out.
On further reflection, it became clear that the hesitance to call myself a writer was based in part on that typically Kiwi attitude of not wanting to be seen to be making too much of myself. Not wanting people to look at my meagre achievements and think “Writer? Mate, you’re hardly even capable of crafting a legible text message.” Which is true. My writing is not amazing, and it’s a daily struggle to make it better.
But eventually, you just have to bite the bullet. If I want to be a writer, why would I spend another day not being what I want to be, when it is as simple as telling myself that I am. My status as a writer is not conferred by my job or my portfolio, it is what I tell myself that counts.
These semi-sincere insights and pop psychology have a purpose. We so often feel incapable of completing the challenges that we set for ourselves. I feel incapable on a daily basis. But we should screw our courage to the sticking place and simply go for it. Whatever it is that you want to be, journalist, scientist, porn star, or politician, don’t dream about it, don’t talk about it, just be it.