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I have no talents, passions, social graces, redeeming qualities, or anything unique about me. I'm already 20 but I still have absolutely no idea what I like or want to do or what kind of person I am. I don't even have a job or a license. I try to plan for the future but I'm worried that I'm going to fuck up and screw myself over for life, and if I don't I'll miss something and the same thing will happen. I don't want to always disappoint everyone. I'm really scared and I don't know what to do.
I don’t know enough about you or your situation to be very specific.
But I will say that almost every successful creative person I know thought they were a useless fuck-up at some point. Seriously.
I know two extremely successful and brilliant writers who can’t spell or use punctuation at all. Robert Kirkman had several titles fail before creating the defining independent comic of our age. Mark Millar, whose had several movies and has invented his own sub-genre of comics based on his name was actually sales poison for a long time, it was thought. My friend Nicola Scott, now one of the most successful artists in comics, actually was reduced to sleeping in her car when her previous career stalled. I know creators who were flipping burgers when they broke through, I know creators who were fired from crappy minimum wage jobs before they got their shot.
I myself, I have been ridiculously poor and at the end of my rope several times. When I got the call asking me to write my first comic, I was a hairdresser, and was so terrified, I was afraid to take the phone call, and kept putting it off and making excuses.
I don’t know your circumstances. But I know you can’t make mold steel without flames. I don’t know anyone worth a damn who hasn’t struggled in their life. Struggle can forge you, struggle is your danger room. No one succeeds at anything important without it, not and has anything meaningful to say.
When you say you have no ‘redeeming qualities’ or talents, what you might mean is…
1) You don’t have any of those things that you can RECOGNIZE, or
2) You don’t have those things RIGHT THIS MINUTE.
Our past is not a binding contract. We don’t have to live with the lot in life we have at this moment. We can make a change. I went to beauty college and built my hairdressing business painfully slowly, piling up debt and doubt, and then, when I finally got it working, and filled with terror, I gave it all up to try this bizarre new thing called comics.
I am sure that you have something you want to do. I am sure you have skills, everyone does, even if they lack the capacity to see them for themselves.
My advice is, start small. Do something that makes you happy. It doesn’t have to be writing or art, it could be martial arts, it could be crafts, it could be singing, whatever. Find something you like to do and work on it, with the goal of sharing it with others. There is encouragement in community.
Don’t think of the end goal, if that’s too far away. Think of tomorrow.
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