Writing My Own Magnolia Story

I’ve been listening to The Magnolia Story audiobook lately, and Chip freaks me out. Not even kidding.

Most recently, I listened to a chapter where Chip describes how he would avoid getting “too comfortable”, and keep looking for ways to shake things up in his life. Personally, I’ve grown up with a different attitude: my approach is to always strive towards something steadfast and reliable. I actively try to get comfortable in life, and find ways to avoid change. Needless to say, while listening to this story, I spent a lot of time thinking “Chip, you’re crazy!!”

Of course, Joanna often voiced the same opinion, so it’s not like I’m abnormally clingy to comfort.

But here’s the realization I finally had to accept: avoiding change means avoiding opportunities. That’s the hard truth of the matter. The more energy I put into a static, consistent lifestyle, the less energy I can put into forging a new road for myself. Every step I take towards solidifying the “now” is a step away from creating a dynamic “later.”

You can’t build a house and trail blaze at the same time.

In my case, that opportunity, that future isn’t predictable or stable, especially not right away. I want to pursue comics and illustration (both challenging fields), but right now I cling to the idea of predictable paycheck and “easy” money (work that doesn’t require much creative genius.) What I didn’t realize was that my focus on “predictable and easy” gradually became the biggest part of my dreams! I no longer daydream about just doing illustration, but instead daydream about maybe having time to do my artwork on the side. Basically, I’m dreaming about having a place to sleep and eat between shifts. That’s my passion?

Surviving or Thriving?

I am not saying day jobs are bad, nor is it bad to want to pay rent and bills. Not being homeless is a good thing, and it’s good to pay off debts, eat food, provide for your family, and all of those things. However, as a creative, I forgot that stability isn’t my final mission. As a teen, I wasn’t passionate about not being homeless, I was passionate about art and writing! Obviously I want to be housed and employed, but trying to survive is a very different thing from trying to thrive.

Listening to Chip and Joanna’s story has been a wake up call for me. It’s reminded me that eventually your plans have to include courage, and no amount of strategy will prevent risk from entering your life. But more importantly, I realized that I don’t necessarily want a risk-free life (because that’s an opportunity-free). I want my courage to be tested, and I want to grow stronger because of it. I want to deliberately pick an opportunity that will throw me out of my comfort zone and push me to something greater.

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