I imagine many people cringing if their kid said, “Mom, Dad…When I grow up, I want to travel the world hunting down monster myths with a band of friends…on TV. I want to be paid more than you guys make doing this crazy dream.”
Sounds far fetched, but it’s exactly what what Josh Gates of Destination Truth does for a living.
* * *
Imagine a kid saying, “Mom…I will make my fame as an adult by doing a wide variety of crappy and dirty jobs on TV. And from the fame I will gain, I will become a spokesman for Ford and do a lot of narrating work.”
Again, far fetched, but it’s how Mike Rowe pays the bills.
* * *
The list goes on:
“I’m gonna grow up and travel the country doing all kinds of wacky things at festivals and riding roller coasters…” (Bert Kreischer of Bert the Conqueror’s gig.)
“I’ll be paid better than you guys to travel the world eating gross things…” (Andrew Zimmern’s gig on Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern.)
“I’m gonna become known for making funny and sometimes touching videos on this thing called the Internet…all on my own…” (Ze Frank.)
“I’ll rise up from this table where we’re playing Dungeons and Dragons and turn a career in stand up comedy into hosting gigs and then starting my own little media empire on the Internet…” (Chris Hardwick of The Nerdist.)
So really, “I’m going to be a writer,” doesn’t sound so far fetched — even, “I’m going to do my day job without much complaining and write and write and write and release electronic books all on my own and become a millionaire…” (Amanda Hocking.)
But They Are Exceptions
When mentioning people like those listed above and the countless others who make a living juggling, painting, SCUBA diving, and so many other things, many people say, “Yeah, but they are the exceptions.
But the funny thing about exceptions: somebody will always be “the exception” — and it’s not going to be the person who spends her time doing nothing and telling others that their dreams are ridiculous…
Here’s to a productive week!
Paul Lamb says
And yet, while all of the job ambitions you list always sound fantastic and ridiculous at the outset (despite working out for a few), the sad, sad irony is that if some bright-eyed child said that he wanted to work for fifty years doing an unimportant, uninspiring job as a wage slave in a cube farm, just like millions of others, no one would tell him to dream big; no one would expect him to strive for anything more, or at least be disappointed that he hadn’t done more.
Christopher Gronlund says
Paul: Exactly! The longest job I’ve ever had was just under 5 years. I’ve been laid off more than 5 times. I still hear people say that you should get a “good job” and hang on to it. More and more, though, I see even those who stuck to that thought thinking differently after being laid off and freaking out about it. It often seems to be the people who believe in what’s generally become an outdated idea who have the hardest time giving themselves to a company for a decade or so, only to be laid off.
While making it full time as a writer may or may never happen for me, I’m glad I strive for something more. Not that there’s anything wrong with just working and going home and watching TV and hoping the ax doesn’t fall if that’s your thing. But I’ve seen many people content to do that (or, more often, not content, but too afraid to take a chance at something more), knock those who strive for something more.
I’ve listened to too many people who, at the end of their lives, regretted not making more time for family or taking chances on their dreams. I will never put extended overtime before family, and I will always write more days than not. The most interesting thing to me: it’s the friends at jobs who do something more that are often the best performers at work. Sadly, I’ve had some managers who see people doing anything beyond working for them as a slight.
Sadder still are all the people I’ve chatted with over the years who have always had dreams but thought it was too silly to pursue them.
I may never make it as a full time writer, but I work better at my day job because I write more days than not and because I strive for more.
M.E. Anders says
Chris – you always provide and interesting take on these subjects – reality mixed with a dash of inspiration. Sure, it’s risky to some people to branch out from the mainstream, but how else will we discover if we were the exception waiting to occur?
Christopher Gronlund says
M.E.: Thanks for the reply. I know for every success there are a bunch of people who didn’t make it, but you’re right: there’s only one way to find out. I think it’s sad that so many people think that good things happen to other people, or that people are simply destined for something great while the majority are destined to a miserable job they cling to.
I know there are people who work hard and do everything right and never make it. I’ve had some close calls, but I may never see a big payoff from my writing; people about to make it to the Olympics get last-minute injuries and lose their chance; some do everything “right” and their businesses still fail.
But when you read about those who have made it, there’s always that bit of obsession and passion and hard work. I’ve had so many people over the years tell me that only a lucky few will ever make it and the rest of us are better off just accepting that the best it gets is a dull job and TV, but even if the big break never comes, working hard for things carries over to other things. Looking at many of the people listed in this entry, they started out doing other things with a drive that eventually paid off.
I totally agree with you: “how else will we discover if we were the exception waiting to occur?”