Lately I've been having that sensation that crawls from the pit of your stomach and up into your throat; that feeling of open-eyed terror you get when you're a little kid and you just found out that you're in big trouble.
I'm a junior in high school. My GPA is exactly a 3.
Like five or six years ago, I decided what I really wanted to do was be a writer. I, like any other self respecting 11-year-old, wrote fan fiction. Not a lot of it, just, like, 24 pages. A Slenderman story. It's embarrassing, but eveyone has to start somewhere.
Anyway, I remember showing it to my parents. I remember their looks of feigned delight, like I was a cat who dragged a dead bird in from the rose garden and placed it lovingly at their feet. I remember them reading it to me and I remember smiling proudly when they had finished.
I also remember showing it to my best friend. I watched him as he read it silently, finally finishing it and putting it to the side.
"Did you like it?" I remember asking.
"Yeah, it was really good." He said as he started texting away at his slider cell phone.
I wrote habitually after that. Whenever I was bored or wanted to do something other than my work, I'd write. I published several stories to this wiki- a sizeable chunk of which got deleted (and admittedly for good reason).
When I was 14, I put a story on reddit called Your Body and You. For a kid who'd put one of his cute little stories on a website for kicks, the response was overwhelming. Like top of the r/nosleep subreddit overwhelming. Like people featuring my story on their podcast overwhelming. Like people messaging me saying "I'll read anything you write" overwhelming. It got to my head, and honestly, I'm still thinking about how cool the experience was for me, especially at that age.
After that, writing was no longer my hobby, it was my future profession. I was nearing that age where your parents start asking you "What do you think you're going to do when you get out of high school?"
And now, without hesitation, my answer was always "A writer."
I'm nearing my final year of high school now, and I have this sense of doubt about what comes next. I've always been a "meh, above average" kind of student, but now with these college-level classes I'm taking, my grades are slipping to D's and F's. I study and do all of my homework, but no matter what I do, something in some other class manages to bring my grade down. There's this overriding sense of futility in everything I do, like I'm playing fucking Whack-A-Mole. I can't find the time to write anymore, and when I do, there's nothing there. I feel creatively drained, like there's nothing interesting going on in my head to write about. I really have to dig for ideas now.
I start to think: "Am I even a writer? I'm just a kid. I've only been doing this for six years."
I think: "It's fucking hilarious that your writing career peaked when you were 14."
When I saw my guidance counselor, she asked me what the plan was for after high school.
I said "I want to be a writer."
"Oh, so like journalism?"
"No, I was thinking more like narratives. Like books."
She nodded knowingly at me, desperately clutching for something to say other than "We should probably find something else for you."
The plan always was "Graduate, get an English Degree or something, write books for a living, be happy."
It turns out colleges don't like when your student transcript is painted in strokes as broad as "get an English Degree or something."
I used to have this mantra thing that I'd repeat to myself, that "I'd rather choose to die young in my shitty studio apartment doing what I love, instead of choosing to live long and prosper doing something I hate."
But now I'm not so sure. I don't want to be the 40-year-old asshole in skinny jeans who hangs out at the mall drinking Chai Lattes and panhandling for change to support his art. But I also don't want to be the guy who got stuck with a wife and kids in his early twenties and works until he's thrown promptly into the crematory fire.
I'd like someone to tell me it's going to be okay. I want my future to be guaranteed, I want to know that if I continue writing, things will eventually work out in the end. I want to know that it won't all be for nothing.
And I know that this is something that eveyone (not just writers) struggles with. I know my problems aren't new, and I know they aren't special.
But I'm really scared.