If you would have told fourteen-year-old Eman that she’d end up pursuing writing as a full-time career, she would not have believed you. As a child, I’d write only in my free time. When I was in sixth grade, I had my first diary. It was a small book my dad had bought for me at the beginning of my school year. During the evenings, I’d sit in a corner of my house and scribble fiction stories. I’d imagine myself in different scenarios and jolt it all down onto the pages of my diary. Sometimes I’d write about how much I love my best friend and sometimes I’d write about that cute boy I saw in my sports class. Whatever I’d write about, I would sit in one place for hours and still wouldn’t be bored. But somewhere along the way, I stopped.
I stopped writing.
Instead, I’d spend my time reading encyclopedias, and books from authors who have died a hundred years ago. How did I start writing again? Writing came back to me like a revelation, an epiphany in the middle of the night as I sat in my room with a sinking feeling of loneliness and depression engulfing every inch of my heart. Loneliness led me to write again.
When I first started sharing my writings on Instagram, I received a lot of love from friends, family members, and even strangers. People appreciated what I wrote. Their compliments and praises pushed me to write more, and more. All throughout high school, I used writing as a source of escapism from depressive mood swings as well as my anxiety attacks. I wrote whatever I felt in my diary, and after I’d close the book, I’d feel my heart getting lighter.
When it was time for me to apply to colleges, I told my mother at the age of seventeen, “I want to write for a living.” She did not say anything, but I could see the look of disappointment on her face.
Between high school and college, I took a gap year. Apparently, I had a hard time deciding what I wanted to pursue as a career. I was hesitant. My parents could not afford to send me to a prestigious college where I’d pursue my media dream. I had always been an average student. So I failed to get admission to any reputable university. I settled for a community college and enrolled in an English Language and Literature degree simply because I loved literature. I enjoyed studying my major, but something was missing. I wasn’t happy. I saw all my friends doing all these amazing things and traveling to all these amazing countries and it made me feel inferior. I felt like I was not doing enough in life. I felt unsuccessful.
In 2019, I started freelance writing. But that did not turn out well either. Each step I’d take towards my career seemed stagnant. Magazines continually rejected my works and press outlets did not even reply to my submissions for being published.
COVID-19 has been hard for most of us. Some people lost their loved ones, while others lost their jobs. For me, 2020 has been a year when I got the chance to see life from a different perspective. During the past year, I wrote for clients who paid me way less than the amount of work I’d do and I also wrote for major corporations that did not even pay my full due. I’ve experienced people steal my work and take all the credit for my creativity. I’ve seen people who did not want to work with me because of my nationality and for the language I spoke. Last year, I managed to score an interview at one of the major newspaper outlets. It was a dream come true for me. When I went in for the interview, the interviewer completely ignored what I had to say, what my qualifications were and his focus was more towards what I looked like and how I dressed. Throughout the entire interview, they did not even take a look at my CV, nor did they ask me about my experiences. My first interview at my dream job lasted hardly fifteen minutes. It took me a few days to move on from that disappointing and heartbreaking experience.
But, failure IS a part of life, right? I tried looking on the brighter side of life. I managed to intern at organizations that allowed me to express my creativity and improve as a writer and journalist. There are still people who appreciate my writings and the work I do. Last week, I got a chance to interview my favorite writer. I have been a fan of her work for the past five years, so it was a massive accomplishment for me. If you are thinking of giving up on your dream, this is your sign. Life is too short to let these minor failures stop you from chasing your dreams. It doesn’t matter if you are a child of immigrant parents or if you do not come from a rich family. If you have a dream, you must protect it, you must go after it, and you must work hard for it. Hard times build strong people. Oprah Winfrey was told she was not fit for television. Walt Disney was told that his ideas were not creative enough. Albert Einstein did not speak until the age of four and his teachers would say that he’d never amount to much. Eminem was a high-school dropout and tried committing suicide at a young age. The Beatles were told by Decca Recording Studios that, “we don’t like their sound and they have no future in the show business.” Imagine if ALL these people gave up on their dreams, would we have known them now? These people were not extraordinary nor were they superheroes. They only had one thing in common. They loved their work and were passionate about the things they were doing.
You don’t have to be world-famous to be successful. Do you know the real meaning of success? It is to do what you love, and if you do what you love in life, every day will be a passionate adventure towards your dreams. I love writing and that is why I chose journalism as a career. As Steve Jobs once said. “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.”
You must believe in yourself, because at the end of the day, you’re all that you have. You must keep reminding yourself, every single morning, that you deserve to live the kind of life you work hard for. You must remind yourself, that you deserve to be happy too.
During COVID-19, while I sat at home, I truly discovered what I wanted to do in life. It was to be a journalist. How will I reach my destination? I do not know.
All I know is that if I work hard enough, God will make a way.
God will always make a way.
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