I’m about to do something that, for the past four years, I thought I wouldn’t be able to do. You won’t know what it is for a few months. Try not to hold your breath. 😉
As this year comes to a close (seriously, can you believe it?) I can say that I’ve finally learned an extremely important adage for living life properly:
You don’t need permission.
That’s right. You’re an adult now, and you can’t sit around and wait for opportunities to come to you anymore. No more waiting for that job, or that partner, or that life circumstance to fall into your lap. Whatever you want to do, you need to do it. I’m obviously not advocating for blatantly breaking the law or being a total douchebag, but I assume that if you’re reading this, you’re a reasonable person who won’t do that anyway. (I take that back. I know many of you have more than one cat in your apartment, even though your lease says only one is allowed. Technically, this is breaking the law. But I’m okay with that. Okay, maybe I’m a terrible influence. Don’t refer to me for legal advice.)
I want to be a writer, so I write. And that’s all I need to do. I’m no Stephen King yet. I’m not a New York Times columnist. Vice and Jezebel have refused to respond to every e-mail I’ve ever sent them. Hell, I’ve never even been paid for my writing – not a damn cent! But I write in my blog, in my journal, and for my upcoming novel. Therefore, I’m a writer.
I can think of other writers like this. Marcel Proust couldn’t get anyone to publish Swann’s Way, so he paid out-of-pocket to have it self-published; he’s not the least-known guy in the French literary world these days. Andy Weir self-published individual chapters of The Martian and sold the entire book on Amazon for 99 cents. Ridley-freakin’-Scott just made a movie about it. Hell, even the Fifty Shades books are a prime example of this. Clearly, E.L. James didn’t need permission to become the best-selling author on Amazon UK, surpassing even J.K. Rowling. Love or hate those books, you’ve got to give credit where it’s due.
I want to be a singer, but I don’t really sing for anyone. Can I really call myself a singer, then? Probably not. But even if my singing consisted of nothing more than occasional busking or coffee-shop showcases, I’d be 100 times the singer I am right now. Because I’d be doing it.
My partner wants to have a gym in his house and train people in it. He tells me, “I don’t need to have some fancy facility or work at a place like 24. I just need weights.” He could work his butt off to become affiliated with some enormous, established company or he could start making moves on his own and make it happen himself a lot faster. He’s choosing the latter.
Not needing permission doesn’t mean you have to do it alone, though. For example, say you want to be a model. Grab a friend with a camera and take photos that exude your own personal styles and speak from both of your hearts. Publish these photos and show them off to the world. Continue to hone your craft, to learn and grow. Congratulations, you are now a model and your friend is now a photographer. Now keep going at it.
It’s not always this straightforward. For example, you technically *do* need permission to be a lawyer, for instance. But do you need permission to take the LSAT? Get into law school? Pass the bar? Work hard? No. You’re the only person stopping you from doing those things.
It’s a pretty simple concept, but it’s one we all forget. We let a lot of stuff get in the way of what we want to do because we think we can’t do it. We think we’re “not allowed”. But who’s really stopping us?
What is stopping you?