I think everybody shares the same general ambition when they are younger - to live the best life possible. It's a dream, really. It's something we hope for, but will never quite achieve, as things (more often than not) will be compromised, more than we ever really considered as children.
People can still be happy, and comfortable - but there's no denying that through that compromise their lives are not the 'best' they could be.
I'm a good example. Let's look first at my dream - to be the best writer I could be, and then examine the reality of my life right now.
Growing up, I had most evenings to myself. I had a simple routine: Get home from school, have dinner and then write whilst watching TV. Routine in this way is good, as it meant I had a habit that I could commit to, and at the end of the day I saw positive results (a finished short story, or comic strip, or plans for an upcoming storyline).
So far so great... but then I hit year 10/11, and exams loomed. More and more of my time was sent studying, or completing coursework. The same goes for college. I think we give our children so much to concentrate on at school that they almost lose themselves for a number of years - they can have no identity outside of the pressures of study. It was true for me.
Like I said, after school came college - and it interrupted my writing for the same academic reasons - but this was also the first time that my social life came into the equation for the first time. It's important to note here that I don't view healthy social relationships as a distraction. Oh no, if anything they add to life's experience, and enhance it, so that when I do write I am all the richer for it. But whether I do class them as a distraction or not, the fact remains that they do still contribute to time taken away from writing (but I'm fine with it).
Then the biggest bug bear of all... work!! Argh. The bain of my life right now.
Due to having such a shitty rota, it's hard to plan anything... and when I am free (like right now) I'm often too tired to commit to any writing, as my head isn't in that mental zone it needs to be in.
A typical week at the cinema is me working any different combination of shifts. Here's one example of how my rota holds up, and I'll follow-up with a commentary in a moment.
Wednesday 3/9/14: 5pm to Close (I left work at 3:45am)
Thursday 4/9/14: 4pm to Close
Friday 5/9/14: Off
Saturday 6/9/14: 12pm to 8pm
Sunday 7/9/14: Off
Monday 8/9/14: 10am to 6pm
Tuesday 9/9/14: 8am to 4pm
Wednesday 10/9/14: 9am to 5pm
Thursday 11/9/14: 4pm to Close
Following the close last night (3/9/14) I didn't get home until close to 4:30am. After sleeping, I didn't wake up until 1pm today.
My next shifts is *supposed* to start at 5pm, but I've been called in for an all manager's meeting at 4pm. Firstly... I do not get paid for extra hours worked. Secondly... that's an extra hour of my day gone.
When you factor in commute time - I will have to set off at 3:30pm, which means... I need to shower and get ready, eek, any minute now.
So, from waking up at 1pm I have 2 hours to myself before I have to repeat the commute-work-commute cycle. Then I won't get home until late again... so it's likely I won't wake tomorrow until 1pm.
"But then it's your day off!" I hear you cry... Well, yes. But I work such long hours, and in such a frenzied way that usually my days off are my recovery time. I'm so fatigued that I don't have the energy to write anything until my batteries are charged back up. Don't forget that I need to use these days off, too, to do my shopping, laundry or to call Mum back at home.
Then Saturday I'll get a couple of hours in the morning to myself, and then after leaving work late (which always happens, and it's not my fault!) and commuting, I won't get home until 9pm or later. I can watch a DVD or something... probably the new Doctor Who episode... after which I'm too zoned out to do much more than sleep, or browse the internet.
The weekdays are a little better. It's unusual that I get 3 early morning opens on the trot. That will work in my favour this week, and means I have a dedicated 4 or 5 hours to myself at night to do whatever I want... but again, only if I leave work on time!
You get the idea. My biggest obstacle is my shift pattern. It's not something my GM understands, because the nature of his job means he has a hell of a lot more freedom with his rota than I do. I know it's the nature of my job, completely I do, and that's one of the biggest reasons I want to leave - I can't doo it anymore. I can't allow it to stand in the way of me writing, because if I let it, I'll never get that script writing job that I want.
It's horrible, having a dream, but knowing there's so many things standing in your way, preventing you from reaching them.
That is the way of life. Question becomes: When you hit an obstacle - how do you react? Do you let it block your way, or do you fight your way through?
I have my answer.