I read the whole Eragon series as a kid.
In my mind, Christopher Paolini was a genius! He made an imaginary world come to life on paper. He designed creatures that we loved, cheered for, cried over. He went so far as to invent his own language and even included the rules for speaking it in the backs of his books (I tried very hard to learn it). Are you ready for the best part? The first book in the cycle was published when Paolini was no older than sixteen. SIXTEEN!
Once I learned that little fact, I was determined. I wanted to be just like Paolini. I wrote every idea I had. I wrote short stories on the back of homework, I started novels in the middle of class lectures (Sorry Miss Duncan), crafted characters left and right, I would stare out windows and imagine the epic stories I was going to publish. I told everyone that when I grew up I wanted to be a writer like Paolini and be published by the time I turned sixteen. Well, sixteen came and went. So did seventeen… and eighteen… and nineteen… Next week I turn twenty-one, and the only place my work has been published is on my own Facebook wall.
Honestly, it’s discouraging. I thought maybe novels just weren’t my niche and switched to poetry, even submitted some stuff to literary journals around the country, but nothing. I spend a lot of time asking myself, “What am I doing wrong?” I genuinely like my work. My mom and my teachers seem to like it, but maybe they just like it because they have to. Maybe I’m not that good. Maybe everybody that ever complimented my writing style was just a liar trying to spare my feelings.
There have been plenty of time I’ve been tempted to just scrap the whole folder and give up on my goal. I mean I guess I was cursed or something. But I’ve made a very important discovery recently: Paolini is the exception, not the rule.
The plant from which we get coffee takes about five years to mature enough to produce fruit and then goes on to produce for about fifteen years. That means that a coffee plant spends around a third of its life fruitless, but that doesn’t make it a failure for those years. The green tea plant can take anywhere from four to twelve years to mature, and only lives for about thirty years total. Most of the plants in my window garden won’t produce flowers for another year, and that’s okay. That doesn’t make them failures as plants, nor do I expect more from them.
What I mean by this is that it’s okay to not see results right now. Good things take time. Successful baseball players have to work and practice and mess up and learn before they can become successful. None of those years are wasted, nor is that person a failure at any point in their journey to their success. Famous bodybuilders don’t just hit the gym one day and wake up the next one ripped as heck. There is a long and arduous process of research, rehearsal, and pain. The thing that separates your average gym goer from that guy is that they keep trying and pushing until they get where they want to be.
Reader, it doesn’t matter what goals you haven’t accomplished at this point in your life. What matters is that you don’t lose hope, and that you have patience with yourself. Don’t give up on that goal you haven’t made it to yet. Read that again. I said yet. Keep. Pushing. Keep striving. Keep getting stronger!
You are still growing. You are still growing as a person, as a writer, as a weightlifter, as a makeup artist, whatever! You are still growing and learning and every day you don’t give up, you get better! You are like a fine wine, or if you prefer: a young coffee plant. So drink lots of water, get you some sun, and stand firm. Keep reaching towards those goals and may this be your season of growth.