“Follow your dreams” say the inspirational jpegs, with their handwritten typography scrawled over fluffy white sun-dappled clouds, or a beach scene with a vintage filter. Those other jpegs, with their multi-coloured balloons and wispy butterflies, say “never let go!” and “you can do anything!” in their looping, curling font.
I pin them to my Pinterest board, entitled “Pretty Things”, and internally nod along at the sentiment, a little warm glow in my little warm heart.
A few years ago I was having dinner with a very good friend, at a very expensive restaurant, paid for by a Groupon voucher. “We’ll never be able to afford this,” she conceded early on in our feast, thinking of the lives that lay ahead of us. “The career paths we’ve chosen will never make us so much money we can comfortably eat dinner at Michelin-starred restaurants” (with not one, but two desserts, I might add).
She was right, of course. We’d both decided to be writers. We’d both abided by the outlook of those fuzzy jpegs and said yes to pursuing our dreams! Believing in ourselves! Doing what we loved! etc. etc.
I had accepted my fate of never being financially rich with contented good nature. Realistically I was never going to make millions being a writer. Money had never been a motivating factor; I’d have my modest house and my books and my prevailing sense of adventure to keep me swathed in cheerfulness and fulfillment.
I’m sad to tell it; this noble intention has waned. Those fluffy white sun-dappled clouds have parted to reveal a world of expensive pleasures, in need of supporting funds. Trips to Central America, the entirety of Topshop’s sale rail, oysters twice a week, Tassimo coffee discs, flights to England and pounds to spend there. I like expensive cheese, I lust after expensive handbags, I drink $14 cocktails that disappear with two sips.
Carrie Bradshaw is a myth. Those clothes, those shoes, that apartment, and that job? I have a choice to make; pursuing the dream, or pursuing the lifestyle.
I guess, as it so often does, a prospective answer comes from a slice of wisdom served up by Jim Carrey. You’ve probably seen the clip; during his commencement address at Maharishi University in Iowa, Jim (who I have adored since 1994) trumps all the jpegs and all the flowery prose and tells the story of his father, who became an accountant instead of pursuing his dream of being a comedian, but then was fired from being an accountant anyway.
“You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love,” he says to a captivated audience.
I think he might be right.