I remember seeing the Vine of the little boy who opened the fridge to realize that someone ate his torta (sandwich). I posted the video below, if you haven’t already seen it. The expression of pure despair in the boy’s voice struck a cord with me, because it is the sound of losing something that he could never, ever get back.
I found the video personally horrifying because I related his emotions about a sandwich to my emotions about my life. I was, and am, familiar with that feeling of “holy shit, someone came in and snatched up something that I set aside for myself!” Some call it FOMO, or fear-of-missing out. Some call it plain old jealousy. I call it seeing red and feeling sick at some great, cosmic injustice. The torta kid hit me in my feel zone because when I saw the video, I realized that is exactly how it feels to watch other people follow their dreams and think, “that could have been me; that should have been me.”
I empathized with the torta kid because I felt unable to follow my dreams of being a writer, and it seemed like the feeling of “someone ate my sandwich” was inevitable. You see, I thought it was only a matter of time before I was looking back on my twenties and screaming not at someone else, but at myself, for not eating the sandwich of life when I had the chance.
Often times it is no one in particular, but society in general, telling me that I need a certain level of income stability, or health insurance, or retirement savings, or else. It’s a boogeyman mentality, and I was a slave to it for the better part of my young adulthood. I chased my college degree, and then I chased a monogamous relationship, and then I chased a steady office job. And all the time I was chasing those things (things that certainly were not my dream of being a writer,) I was running, running from some imaginary failure that always seemed to be lurking.
You see, I recently quit my 9-5 job in order to dedicate more of my time to writing. I’ve gotten pretty mixed reactions about my choice, ranging from “you’re insane” to “you’re doing what I should have done 20 years ago.” Honestly, I’m keeping one of the Four Agreements and taking none of it personally – neither the good nor the bad reactions. At the end of the day, people react based on their own preconceived notions, biases, and personal experiences – not because they have any knowledge about what my future or present holds.
Now that I’m freeing my mind, bit by bit, I often feel afraid. I’m scared that I will fail to earn enough money to survive. I’m scared that I will get into some terrible accident and I will be indebted for the rest of my life to pay for the cost of saving my life, sans insurance. I’m scared that I’ll be sixty years old with no savings. These are legitimate fears.
But, dear reader, do you know what I find more scary than any of the above? You guessed it: the feeling of “alguien se comio mi torta;” the feeling that someone else ate my sandwich, that someone else lived my dream while I lived out some bullshit simulation of life – that is my nightmare fuel.
I would rather be challenged to trust in my higher power and in my own capabilities, challenged to hustle to stay out of poverty, challenged to scrimp and save to get by, than to live a life that is not oriented in every way toward achieving my dreams.
I believe I have a purpose here on Earth, being in this body, with this brain. I believe in that purpose, and I believe that I can take care of myself despite all the odds. Damn, I’m getting chills writing this, because it is the realest thing I’ve done. I’m choosing to sacrifice my materialistic stability for the chance to succeed as a writer. And I don’t know what that success even means, but I know it starts when I follow my dreams.