Fear of Flying: For Passion or For Paper

A week ago, my older brother Kerry sent me a forward of a piece by Marianne Williamson called "Our Greatest Fear."  Reading through the text actually frightened me, and it reminded me of the last time I worked a 9-5 job.

It was 2011 and it was a desk position.  I sat beside a girl that we'll call Michelle.  Michelle had been working for the company about a year before I arrived, and told me she was just "buying her time" till she landed her dream job.  Months later, Michelle whispered to me that she finally got the position and would be leaving at the end of the month.  She had to contain her excitement because she hadn't told anyone else yet, including our manager, but that entire week I could feel her excitement every time she sat down beside me.

It was nearing the end of the month and I didn't hear her say much more about this new "dream job" so I asked her what the deal was.  "I don't think I'm going to take it," she said.  "They're offering me a lot of money to stay here."

I didn't know what to say, so I didn't say anything.  This didn't make any sense to me.  You mean to say that you landed your "dream job," a job I'm assuming you've dreamed about, sacrificed for, probably been denied a few times; you finally get that job and then you don't take it?  The end of the month came and went and Michelle was still there.  The month after that, I quit.

Why did I quit? Not for fear of flying, but for fear of becoming accustomed to mediocrity.  Near the beginning of the piece my brother sent me, Marianne Williamson says "Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure."  Until reading that line, Michelle's decision didn't make any sense to me.  And even now that I understand Williamson's perspective, I will never accept it.

I have written for free and I have written for thousands of dollars.  When people ask me which would I choose, I say I wouldn't.  I want both.  Why wouldn't I? Why wouldn't anyone want to be able to do what they love and get paid for it?  So many times, too many times, we are forced to choose between passion or paper; for love or for money.  I couldn't imagine living my entire life getting paid and being miserable, unhappy, feeling unfulfilled and empty.  But even with the kind words, with people telling me that my writing has brought them to tears, or sparked a kitchen table conversation with their parents, or has compelled them to action; I would be dishonest if I said that I would take all of that over selling a million copies of my first novel.

What I'm saying is that I will never settle for one or the other.  My fear of flying is not deeper than my passion to succeed.  For passion or for paper? give me both and everything else that comes with it.  Fear exists in everyone, but it should never control you.  It has never controlled me despite the countless amount of times I've had shivers taking on new projects or delivering work for the first time to a new client.  I am confident that even if I slip, the clouds will cushion my fall every time.  Fear of flying? No! Passion and the paper.