Although it had been my dream since childhood, I did not become a full-time writer until I was middle-aged. It was a scary decision, and many co-workers, acquaintances, family, and friends thought I was completely bonkers to give up a well-paying job for a nebulous dream. Even after I proved that I could indeed support myself by writing, they thought I was nuts to continue with it. “I’d never do that,” said my former co-workers. “Are you sure you can keep jumping over all the hurdles, especially at your age?” said one of my helpful aunties. “Aren’t you worried about the future? What will happen when you get old?” asked one of my closest friends.
Ah, those hurdles. They are there, you know. But I found that the hardest hurdles to jump over were all in my own head. Worrying about whether I’d spend all my savings and end up on welfare, worrying about pleasing my clients, worrying that no one would hire me, worrying that I’d embarrass myself and my family by failing, worrying worrying worrying.
I’m not sure you can ever banish worry entirely. It seems to be part of who we are as humans. But I have learned to replace much of my worry with trust. On good days, and even on average days, I trust that the universe wants me to succeed. I trust that if I do my part, the universe will do its part.
But I confess that on bad days I might revert to worrying. There have been days when I’m sure the proverbial bag-lady is hanging out in my closet, waiting for me to fail so she can lend me her shopping cart. I start to think longingly about handy things like salaries, medical benefits, 401Ks, sick days, and vacations days—you know, all those “guarantees” that I used to have.
And then I remember that the word guarantee represents a total illusion. No amount of worry will guarantee success. Worry does not work. One of my favorite quotations about worry is by Peter McWilliams: “Worry is interest paid on a debt you may not owe.”
I also remember those people in my life who have supported me in this crazy dream. Especially my two grown daughters, who have been kind enough to tell me they have been inspired by my mid-life leap, and when they get to middle age, they will know how to do it right. It is comments like these, from people I love and respect, which remind me that we are all teachers for one another. We’re not here for ourselves.
BTW, none of my worries came true. What a waste of time worry is.
The above is an excerpt from my ebook Ghost Stories for Real Ghosts, which is part of my online course “Learn to Ghost.” If you’re interested in becoming a ghostwriter, check it out here.