Reality–ain’t it grand? You live for years in what you think is the real world, and then one day it isn’t. Many people dread reality, and I don’t blame them.
I’ve had a rude awakening that involved a close relative. I got to see firsthand the truth of this quote:
For years this relative has struggled, has eked by and kept their head above water. We made an arrangement to assist each other financially, and they made a great show of supporting my creative endeavors. I qualified for a grant that eased some of our financial burdens, one that increased their cash flow and enabled me to put more energy toward my start-up. Yet when I asked for a portion of the funds to cover my basic necessities, there was an uproar. There was resentment, name-calling of the ‘entitled princess’ caliber. For the first six months of the program, I heard not a peep from this person, not a word of complaint while they enjoyed the benefit I had made possible. It was only when I asked for my share that the backlash came.
So in business fashion, we held a meeting. I presented the financial scenarios – monthly income with the grant (a portion of the income covering my necessities), monthly income without the grant and me working a full-time salaried job, and monthly income without me in the picture. The person changed tactics – now they were in a moral quandary over participating in the program at all. Now there was talk of the program discouraging able-bodied people to work. Never mind that I am up until 2 in the morning every night, fleshing out my books and marketing them, devoting far more than 40 hours a week to my start-up. Because writing books isn’t ‘real’ work, this person has suddenly decided I am selfish, riding on their coat tails, grasping at ‘their’ money.
But the numbers don’t lie–there is more income available to this person because of me, and because of my grant, their own finances are steadily improving. So in the end they decided to (begrudgingly) dedicate funds to my necessities. They actually said ‘When I said I’d support your writing, I didn’t think that would mean financially.’ At that point I had to remind them that the money was only available because of my grant, and that I was not asking for even half of my official share.
Awful, isn’t it? I always (thought I) had a good relationship with this person. They were the one I could count on when the world let me down. But now that they have two nickels to rub together, the true person is coming out. Of course, this all coincides with the fact that total strangers have responded to my writing. I have actually sold copies of my books–my start-up just might turn into a paying gig after all. So now’s not the time to, as my dad used to say ‘show your behind’.
But when your living space goes from a haven to Ancient Rome, you have to keep your guard up. When you’re running down a dream, haters and trolls emerge from the least expected places. Reality can seem a cruel master. But at the same time, support of every kind pops up where you don’t expect it. Acquaintances become friends, friends become family. And those strangers? My lifeline.
So there’s two sides to reality. When it’s time to separate grown folks from the babies, the people you believe in may not believe in you. They may see your (pittance of) success and realize that the excuses they used for giving up on their own dreams were just that–excuses. Your happiness bothers them, even when your opportunity benefits them. In fact, that annoys them even more. Makes me think of another quote:
‘It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail.’ (Don’t fall down the rabbit hole of figuring out who said that. You’ve been warned.)
So if you’ve been shaken up by reality, don’t take it as a sign to give up. Don’t fear that you will never love or trust again. Just be grateful that you’ve found the dry rot before it corroded your dream. Your family may not share your DNA, but they will show up when you need them. Your heart will go on.