‘It’s not fair.’ ‘No, it’s a circus.’

I first realised the complete unfairness of life at the age of 14. My friends could afford to go to the movie theater,  and I couldn’t. It didn’t matter that I really wanted to see the film, be with my friends and have a better Friday night than just staying at home, because no amount of yelling and moping changed the fact that the spare money wasn’t there.

I promised myself that I would never, ever be poor when I grew up – ever. The problem with that promise, though, was that I didn’t expect to be grown up quite so fast. I didn’t realise that you only get what you work for. You can cry, beg, and sook but unless you secure a job and work it well, there won’t be a dime in your bank account. I didn’t know exactly that we weren’t rich, I just knew that I had to share a room with my sibling and that nobody else’s parents told them at Christmas “there’ll only be a few presents this year..” One year at high school, I was told by a teacher that because I was first on the roll-call, it would be up to me to bring the first batch of Friday food. “Can you bring a bag of candies to share?” Other students looked excited, some planned what they would bring. I sat by my drama teacher in my following lesson and told her that I couldn’t afford to bring lollies for everyone – she sympathized, and empathized  Then she offered me her own bag of candy she kept in the office for lessons and made me tear up.

Of course, there’s a difference between not being able to buy luxuries and not being able to buy necessities. We always had food and shelter. Admittedly, the clothes were a bit scarce and a few were hand-me-downs but I wasn’t wearing rags. One time the landlord sold our house and a potential buyer walked around our home throwing open blinds and declaring ‘oh yes! I’m going to open all this up!’ not caring that we would be subsequently homeless if she moved in. I still live in this home today, the only place in this location where the rent isn’t sky-high thanks to a lovely family friend who purchased it for us. That same year, I worked every weekend in a part time job to save up for the debutante ball. I bought my dress and shoes, and was excited. My best friend was, too. Then we were told by our group of friends that we couldn’t share their limousine because we couldn’t afford it. We just laughed and laughed, because we knew something they didn’t.

We knew that it wasn’t how you got to the dance, it was how much fun you had while you were there. We knew that sure, we weren’t as well off and our tastes were a bit grungy, but we also knew that if they weren’t capable of the kindness of letting us ride with them anyway, then they weren’t worth worrying about letting them get to us.

Definitely what ours looked like. Definitely.
Definitely what ours looked like. Definitely.

I decided to pursue happiness over money at the age of 18, because I had that annoying thing called hope. I knew something those people studying things they didn’t want to just for a job didn’t – I have a dream, a dream! And my dream is worth so much more than a paycheck! Ah, young people. Idiots. Don’t listen to anything your 18 year old self has to say.

Pursuing something arty is a risky business that takes a lot of courage and blind faith. Tackling it while you’re young is an alright option, you can always move on to something else if it doesn’t work out. Changing over to an arts dream when you’re older and have financial stability is an even greater choice, at least you’ll have a trade and ‘respectable’ talent to fall back on. It doesn’t matter when, though, it only matters that you at least give it a shot.It’s time that I acted on the knowledge that dreaming about what you want, isn’t the same as going after it.

Editing my first almost complete novel, because having the intention to finish a book isn't the same as finishing one.
Editing my first almost complete novel, because having the intention to finish a book isn’t the same as finishing one.

I’m doing things. No more lazing and moping. I’m saving, learning and planning. Getting it together and all that. I’m sure I’ll stumble again, but this time, there’s no wiggle room to lay down and give up. I want life to start now – not next year, or next year, or next year. Now. You won’t hear me exclaiming that things aren’t fair any more; life is what you make it, and what you put in, there are things you can’t change from the past, and ultimately, life isn’t fair on anyone. You buck up, do the work… and enjoy yourself, equally.


38 thoughts on “‘It’s not fair.’ ‘No, it’s a circus.’

  1. What an exciting and inspiring post 🙂 I think it’s definitely a good idea to be realistic about your goals and dreams and it sounds like you’re going bout things in the right way!

    Good luck Jess, I hope you have a great year and that it is the first of many, working toward you dreams 🙂

    Thanks for sharing, great post!


  2. I firmly believe your childhood issues with money stem from the fact that your friends were richer than you. See, from your description, you weren’t actually that poor, your friends just made you feel that way. I grew up poor but it didn’t matter because everyone in my town was in the same boat, except for stupid Amanda with six Cabbage Patch Kids and a tree house with a television in it. But nobody liked her so who cares. Come to think of it, she probably has childhood issues with money stemming from the fact she was too rich. Makes sense since she now has five children and lives in a trailer…I should give her a call and tell her I’m sorry for making fun of her My Little Pony obsession…


    Congrats on reaching for your dreams and having a back up that you don’t hate. It’s smart and I think everyone should do it this way.

    1. Probably! If you’re a poorer kid and your friends are the same economic status, then you probably won’t ever notice. hahaha, that Amanda sounds awful!
      Thank you 🙂

  3. “because having the intention to finish a book isn’t the same as finishing one.”

    Ouch. But thanks. I think this was just the kick in the butt I needed to get back to those projects and get things finished. Half a book doesn’t make you any money. :/ And an unpublished book of poetry is just a pile of regrets.
    Time for me to get over the what-ifs and i-don’t-wannas and buckle down.

    1. Haha I’m sorry for the ouch! Don’t worry, it’s something I scolded myself with and this is the first book I will finish.
      Good luck, I’m glad this gave you some motivation.
      Thanks for reblogging that’s fine 🙂 makes me feel quite good about this post – I put a lot of heart into it…

  4. I found this post wonderfully motivating. Thank you. You sound determined and I’m sure you’ll reach your goals. It’s not until we say ‘no more’ that things start to fall into place. You sound so confident. Well done. 🙂

  5. Great piece! I quit my full time job last year and did the balls-to-the-wall “I can make it as an author” thing. Well, I scooped up another full time job by the end of the year.

    Writing is accomplished in my spare time. And, even though I do not have as much time as I did last year, I am at financial ease with a roof over my head and food in my tummy. That makes writing a hell of a lot easier!

  6. Smart girl — wise decision; but there’s no need to feel like you’ve wasted anything (including time). We have to invest time, to learn our lessons in this strange life. It’s like investing money to get a return. Wisdom comes when we’re able to redefine our goals, assess our progress, and change directions without compromising our principles. Sounds like you’re doing that, and I’m cheering for you. You’ve learned the reality that money matters in this world.

    Life isn’t fair, and it isn’t easy. Some people, no matter how hard they work, have very bad things happen to them, so don’t ever think that people get what they deserve. They don’t always. Some lucky people get more than they deserve, some unlucky people get less. But as you know, it isn’t about “getting.” It’s about giving.

    You have a lot of luck (or blessing) on your side. You’ve been given intelligence and a sparkling personality, a pretty face, a kind-heart, optimism and charisma, and you were born in a country where hard work counts for something. Add hard work to your inborn assets, with some hard-headed realism about the nature of life, and you’ll go far indeed. Give everything your best effort, give people all your love and give your endeavors all your talent and strength. Never, ever, ever lose hope, never stop believing that it’s better to try than to do nothing, and your life is good!

    And remember–no matter which other more marketable skills you learn, writing well will enhance those skills and make you more marketable. In job recruitment, writing is called “excellent written communication skills.” So you don’t have to give up being a writer; you’re only giving up the pipe dream that someone will pay you a lot of money to do nothing but write all day.

    1. Thank you multiple times for each part of your comment. This is probably the kindest comment I have ever received, so I am of course flushed haha.

      And it’s true about the writing, and no I definitely never will give it up.

  7. I wish you a lot of luck in your path 🙂 Just remember that hard work doesn’t always mean good pay — it can takes years to work up to where you need to be to make what you want/need to make. I’ve been in a “professional” job for 9 years and still have to struggle to make ends meet and pay the bills. I gave up my dreams for a career (aka: money) and I’m still broke. Maybe there’s a third option we’re all missing out on?

  8. Coincidence! My next mini-post is going to be about writing.
    It’s hard to strike the balance. I always wanted to write, but worried about not being sensible, having financial security and so on – then I got sucked into very full-on career posts (which I enjoyed in lots of ways) and didn’t have the energy and time to write. It was very scary stepping away from that – and part of me feels I’ve lost so many years of getting better at the craft of writing – but I am also grateful for the material security and the experiences I’ve had and I’m just trying to make the most of this two year break I’ve given myself to write and study again.
    Good luck! And definitely, try to keep your writing voice going while you work on your back-up plans!

    1. Dun dun dun… coincidence!
      I think I have read the post you were talking about now. It’s funny that you feel like you missed out on writing while I feel I’m missing out on a ‘proper’ career. Why can’t we all just be satisfied? hahaha. Good luck with your writing . study years! That sounds wonderful.
      thank you 🙂

        1. No, haven’t even finished my degree by a long way! I’m the most behind person my age you’ll meet 😦
          I’m glad you’re satisfied and grateful 🙂 That’s my goal!

        2. oh sorry, I forget we start/finish very young in Scotland & it’s not a very flexible system, in terms of doing it part-time or taking years off to work or whatever…(which leads to weird scenarios such as our 21yo has only one year to go before she is a ‘for reals’ doctor – scary! – when in lots of countries she’d only be allowed to start medical training around now)

        3. That’s alright 🙂
          I took a gap year that was only meant to be 1 year but it soon became 2 years :S
          So I’m 2 years behind, but hopefully it all ends up okay. I just never foresaw that it would be so hard watching all my classmates graduate while I’m still a first year!

        4. Aw. 😦 But you will have gained so much in the years off, whatever happened in them. I had a gap year as I didn’t want to start uni age 17. I did lots of seriously crap jobs and I’m sure I did far better at uni, because of that extra year growing up and seeing what life was like, than if I’d gone straight from school.

  9. I’m doing the same. I’ve had the fear of not having somewhere to live. I’ve worked part time for years and I know it won’t support me.This year, I’m going to get a qualification and I will go after the career I want. I want to be able to support myself and I have to think about my future now (possibility of marriage etc)

  10. Good post. Your time is now. As a mature student you have many advantages instead of going straight through the education system. Perhaps the best thing you have going for you is that you are now ready for it, you want it, you are hungry for it. Go get it!

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