I’m a writer. There, I said it.
That’s the short of it. The longer version is that I decided to jump into the great abyss, and take a risk on a dream. I have been quietly working on a project that excites me so much, and means so much to me, that I decided to put everything on hold for at least the next few years to put my whole being into it.
I’m working on an new integrative theory of human nature. Yea, I know how douchey that sounds. But a few years ago, I became so captivated by an idea, and it just grew and grew so much in my head that I couldn’t ignore it. So I’ve been systematically collecting a very large amount of data with my awesome colleagues and have been trying to put all of the pieces together in a rigorous fashion. However, I am still at least 2 years away from the book project being completed, with individual peer-reviewed papers coming out along the way (hopefully!) to at least make me feel like I’m making some tangible progress.
In the meantime, I have chosen a life of great loneliness and financial instability (being a writer) over a life of only moderate levels of loneliness and financial instability (academia). I’m committed to seeing it all the way through though, whatever the outcome. I guess you could say I’m taking a chance on my self.
I know that a writer’s life aint easy. I could easily pose some happy looking writing pictures to make you all think that all is going just so well. This is what that could look like:
But you guys are too smart for that, and I know it. And even if you did buy it, you shouldn’t, because it’s total bullshit. As I sit here today, without much sleep, thinking obsessively about these ideas, and struggling every day to get my thoughts translated to something concrete (i.e., words), this is ACTUALLY what I look like:
Now, this book project isn’t the only thing going on in my life. I’m still dating fellow humans, hanging out with cherished friends, and posting facebook status updates like these so that the comments sections will hopefully make me feel like a worthy human. I am also putting a lot of my energies into teaching undergraduates positive psychology at Penn, hosting my podcast, and advocating for the rights of bright and creative children with learning difficulties. Those things mean a LOT to me. In fact, all of these things mean so much to me that I decided to just cobble together precisely the areas of my life that mean the most to me, and cut out as much ‘extra stuff’ as possible. As one of my friends and colleagues put it, “Show the way, Scott”. So I want to be super authentic and show that possible path.
But I’d be lying, and inauthentic, if I didn’t admit it’s fucking hard. Sorry for cursing Mom, I haven’t slept much lately. Like some days are really, really, grueling. But I continue collecting data, writing papers, writing book chapters, podcasting, and teaching, with the vision that sometime in the next few years I’ll be able to put the finished project out into the world. And I’ll be able to say, good or bad, that I put my all into it. If I don’t put everything I got into this right here, right now, I know I’ll regret it the rest of my life.
So why did I start by saying “I’m a writer”, when I’m still doing more than writing? Well, because people like to reduce people. We all like to quickly categorize people, with nice and neat labels. I can’t tell you how many emails I’ve ignored in the past month or so from well-meaning friends and colleagues who have asked me “What’s next?”. I sincerely apologize to those who have asked me this question and haven’t received a response. The truth is, I just didn’t know how to respond. I didn’t even want to think about the question. In fact, I still don’t want to think about the question.
All I know is that for me, right now, it’s not about what’s next. It’s about what’s now. Whatever happens, at least I’ll be able to say I lived the moment, for once in my life.