Frustration is the shriveled hand that quickly lowers our life-blinds and prevents us from enjoying the vistas. The feeling can touch any area of our existences, but it has a particularly wounding sting when it grips our careers. Although I constantly trumpet the idea of divorcing one’s self-worth from one’s job, I recognize that it can be a wickedly difficult course of action; we pour a significant amount of hours into our jobs, after all. I also recognize that I’m not immune to the struggle.
I entered the publishing business at age 30, a time in a writer/editor’s life when s/he is ascending the ladder of success. Not only was I new to the game, I stood on the absolute bottom rung of the ladder—I was an intern. As a result, I reached, stretched, leaped, and scrambled to ascend to a senior-level position and overcome that delayed start. The journey took longer than I’d imagined, and I sacrificed tears, time, sanity, and a relationship to get there. Some would question the journey’s validity if it brought so much strife, and it would be a fair critique. I performed actions that I’d never repeat or encourage others to take, but the many trials proved beneficial in the long run for one simple reason: I learned not to take any of this too seriously.
Still, there are moments when it’s difficult not to feel as though my career would be on another level if I’d pursued editorial during the normal window in a young professional’s life. The thoughts often creep to the forefront during meetings with people above my rank, but I try to drown out regret’s footsteps with happy reflections.
I grew up a poor kid from a single mother. She did a fine job of shielding me from just how poor we were, and put me on the path of learning and dreaming. In my younger days, I wrote before I consciously decided to become a professional writer. I slapped together awful poems. I created and penned an Uncanny X-Men parody that I sold to other 7th graders during lunchtime. I wrote a couple of hacky screenplays that, thankfully, remain on a USB drive for none to see. The projects were mainly a way for me to escape some of the stress that came with growing up in the crime-filled 1980s- and 1990s-era Coney Island.
I was never a troublemaker, but I got into the typical troubles that teens get into in a large, connected metropolis. I grew up in the projects, and ran with peddlers, but the only time steel touched my wrists was when I got caught hopping a train turnstile on West 8th St. I had goals, and knew that getting involved in negative activities would ruin my pursuit of attending CES, covering E3, visiting Japan, and sitting on a panel at a geek-related function to talk nerd stuff.
All of those dreams, and more, eventually became reality. This isn’t a self-high five moment. I simply highlight these accomplishments because those memories comfort me whenever I begin to kick myself. They also inspire me to chase more.
It would be easy to coast on those successes, but now is the time to focus on new goalposts, ones that will serve as the fuel that propels me through the second half of my existence. They represent not just my future, but my personal shift from career goals to life goals.
- Continue expanding my economic ability to walk away from anything (AKA, “Fuck You Money”)
- Help even more black people achieve their goals
- Create a successful podcast
- Travel more
- Make art
They’re a mix of passion, financial, and “leaving a legacy” projects. And the best part about the plans? I’m starting them at exactly the right time in my life.
*Image courtesy of Chrysalis/EMI Records