When I was in my late teens, I dated a rockstar.
Well, not really…perhaps playing gigs at the local Pizza Hut didn’t count. But to me, he was a rockstar all the same. He had the skintight jeans and the long hair to prove it, and he was awesome at playing the drums. I would listen to him play for hours, and never failed to be enthralled.
If anyone asked him what he planned to do with his life, he answered without hesitation. “I’m going to be a rockstar.”
As much as I believed in him–and I really, really did–his answer was scary. After all, how many people get to be rockstars? What was his Plan B, just in case?
Since my rockstar clearly wasn’t interested in Plan B, I decided to help. I came up with a few options that were quite clever, because he could earn money by working in the music industry (as a studio musician, an engineer, a sound tech, among other things…) while he waited to be discovered.
Clever or not, he wasn’t having any of it. He wanted to play the drums, not be part of the great machine that was the music industry. It was rockstar or nothing.
Meanwhile, I wanted to be a novelist. But how many people get to be full-time novelists? I came up with a sensible Plan B, and learned how to use my writing ability to earn a living. At various points in my career, I was a journalist, a publicist, and a communications and marketing specialist. I blogged and tweeted. I wrote website copy, newsletters, and annual reports.
Not only was it difficult to find the time to write fiction, I often had no enthusiasm after writing for other people all day long. My Plan B had become my Plan A, and even after quitting my day job over a year ago, I’m still struggling to realign those priorities.
I’d love to tell you that the boyfriend of my teenage years became a rockstar after all. That would make this a much better story. He didn’t. BUT he found a job he loves that pays the bills and has nothing to do with music. His music never turned into work for him. He didn’t wear out his creativity by becoming a sound engineer. He played for love when he was nineteen, and he still does today.
Thank god he didn’t listen to me.
I thought I was so wise back then, with my sensible Plan B. And while I don’t regret the incredible career I’ve had and all the amazing people and experiences that have come into my life because of it, I do regret how long it’s taken me to return my focus to Plan A. The place where my focus should have been all along.
So, to those who have an “impossible” dream, I give this irresponsible advice: go for it, and go for it wholeheartedly. Hold nothing back. You may not achieve it, but you’ll never regret the effort.
Don’t worry about Plan B. Having a Plan B is saying it’s okay to fail at Plan A. Plan B makes it too easy to give up. You can get a Plan B later…or never.
Be a rockstar.