"Leap of Faith" by Jay Wilburn
My teaching certificate expired on June 30th of this year. I taught for sixteen years before quitting to take care of my younger son’s health needs, but also to pursue a dream of being a full-time writer. There was a stretch of doubtful days there. Both with the medical care of my son and the notion of making a living at writing, there were some dark days. Eventually he grew better and I started expanding my income with my own fiction and with ghostwriting. Both sources of income were slow builds. There was more than once that I considering packing it up and going back to teaching. I believe teaching is a noble profession, but I also believe I am done with it. Each time I stuck it out with doing what people say is not possible, we made it a little bit further. I was surrounded by people who doubted I could pull it off and expressed their doubts in ways that would pull down my spirit. I had to fight through that and keep my skin too tough to let that in.
All important decisions require a leap of faith. You usually can’t see where you are going to land. You just kind of trust that you are going to land one way or the other. Others won’t make that same leap because they can’t see the landing spot and if it is too far down, you could die. They’ll resent you for jumping when they would not. Some of the people who celebrate the successful landing resent the fact that you survived the fall, but just don’t want to be the person that expresses such a thing out loud. Leaps of faith almost always come before the other side of the jump is ready and secure. You could wait a few months or a few years until the other option is ready. You can wait until the construction of the other life has been completed, the inspections are done, and it looks secure. That is what a responsible person does. The problem is that when you are going for something beyond what most people think is possible, the other side of the leap is never finished before jump time. There will be other opportunities and you can wait, but often the wait becomes the life. You can resent yourself for not jumping and resent those that jumped anyway. The risk is never going to be gone and often the secure life can fall apart like it wasn’t supposed to do while you are waiting for the risk on the other side of the intended leap to mitigate itself.
I always caveat these discussions of writing full-time by saying there is nothing wrong with keeping a day job and writing in the spare moments. There is nothing cowardly in that choice. I’m not telling people to quit their jobs. I’m also not telling you that you can’t. If you resent people who have leapt or resent yourself for not leaping, the healthy choice is either to leap or to find peace in the choice you are making. Look at it as a choice instead of a trap. Believe that you are strong enough to face the day whether it is conquering the monsters you know all too well because you are stronger than them or whether it is leaping to conquer the unknown. You can fight either battle, but never think that you are trapped. The worst that can happen with either choice is that you fail miserably and have to start over. People do it all the time.
My biggest fear used to be losing my job. I hated getting up in the morning and feared losing the job at the same time. So many of us fight and pray to keep jobs and lives that we hate. When they do fall apart, we land somewhere eventually. Sometimes it is a painful journey to the landing, but we often look back where we were standing and are so thankful to not be there anymore. One thing you can be pretty sure of in your life: one day you will either leap or you will fall from where you are standing at this moment and you will land somewhere. It is great to look back once the journey is over and to be less afraid of that drop than you were before.
Jay Wilburn lives with his wife and two sons in Conway, South Carolina near the Atlantic coast of the southern United States. He taught public school for sixteen years before becoming a full time writer. He is the author of the Dead Song Legend Dodecology and the music of the five song soundtrack recorded as if by the characters within the world of the novel The Sound May Suffer.
Follow his many dark thoughts on Twitter @AmongTheZombies, his Facebook author page, and at JayWilburn.com