A good friend of mine sent me an inspiring video by Steve Harvey (above) telling his audience after an episode of Family Feud to take a leap. To expand on that notion, he essentially told the crowd to stop coming up with excuses, and leave a job they're miserable at and take a jump toward something they believe in - something they've dreamed of. Yes, it was a "follow your dreams" and screw the rest kind of deal. It moved me though. About a week later, movie "it" star Chris Pratt, who I'd loved on Parks and Recreation from day one, posted something similar on his Instagram page. He spoke of filming back-to-back films and how it didn't feel like work. He spoke of living off sardines as he pursued his own dream of becoming a successful actor. Similar to Harvey, he told his followers (non-social media folk, I don't mean that in a cult sort of way) to hold onto their dreams, to never give up, and your dreams will come up.
The sentiment continued at this year's SAG Awards. Winners Queen Latifah and Uzo Aduba echoed a "don't give up, keep grinding... dreams come true" vibe. The back-to-back-to-back inspirational messages really struck me then and still do. I, too, have dreams. I've lived with Ferris Bueller's logic of "Life moves pretty fast... If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it" my whole life. I've tried to raise my game no matter where I am. When I was at my first job as a local newspaper reporter, I couldn't stop there. I freelanced movie reviews for another outlet for more pay and better placement, and worked my way into press junkets and red carpets. That led to me relentlessly approaching and eventually landing a New York Post freelance gig. That was my first dose of reality of the two extremes my career had and has been my entire professional life. Back then, I'd interview Colin Farrell one night, and write an item of how a turtle had a dixie cup stuck on its head the next. That, by the way, is a true story and appeared in a town police blotter. The turtle, by the way, was on a tennis court. Figure that one out. I'm sure he survived.
Anyway, when I became a newspaper editor for a small Westchester County weekly newspaper chain a few years later, I continued pushing and plugging. I wanted more and felt I had more to offer. My game plan had always been to do what I loved to do on the regular: write about pop culture for a living. So, with a void I felt from not writing as a full-time editor, I spent my nights and weekends, developing my own pop blog thecheappop.com. I built it for years to the point I was back on red carpets, doing one-on-one interviews with well-established celebs, and got mentions on everything from the now defunct K-Rock radio to Moviefone. Meanwhile, I freelanced for local papers, magazines, and online sites. But, I burnt myself out. Pursuing your passions simultaneously can hand you quite a beating. Yet, I trucked on. I didn't want my passion to simply be a glorified hobby.
For several years, I bounced around a couple of start-ups, all the while continuing that blog, and proudly posting stories onto this major outlet - The Huffington Post. I've worked full-time since 2008 as director of communications at a music school, and have enjoyed it immensely. But, I push in the hopes I can jump like Harvey. I've had seven published pop culture books, which I've done around my work schedule, and started my own music/entertainment sessions series "A-Sides" which is well-established and often praised. It's something I love so dearly and want to do so regularly.
I've interviewed talent ranging from Hulk Hogan to Snoop Dogg to Meryl Streep. I've had musicians perform solely for me. I've flown out to L.A. to cover the Oscars, I've been in arena photo pits . I have hit the carpets of The Tony Awards, it feels, more times than a chorus line. I continue to work a full-time job, while doing "A-Sides," pitching books, and intentionally burning the candle at both ends to end up where Harvey, Pratt, Latifah, and Aduba are at... the land of dreams fulfilled. But here's the thing, reality tells me not to take a huge jump. I've made little-to-no money from blogging and just a few bucks writing books.
I have a wife, two kids, a mortgage, bills, and college loans I'll be paying off until I look like Keith Richards. How can I take the plunge when the real world tells me not to? At 40, I find myself at the same crossroads I did at 19 and 29: a land in which reality bites. How do you carry the dream forward? How can you financially afford to not give up?
At what point do I just truck on and hope someone reads this, Googles me, recognizes the dedication and talent, and takes a chance on me ABBA style.
I will continue to push and plug away but at what point do you just stop and snag a job that is just work, work, work, work, work, work. (He say me have to.) Can I even do that? Why am I writing this? Who's out there?
At what point do I say the hell with it, and press "publish" on this anyway?