July 2015 — I’ve just turned 32 years old, and I’m trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.
I’ve built this #BloggerLife for myself — a little digital space with promise, letting me share thoughts and ideas with thousands, evolving around me as I learn to massage them into something more… spectacular.
I don’t know whether I’d call myself a blogger anymore — things have grown much bigger than that. My site’s more than a blog template, my stories more than a handful of images and subtitles… I look at my #BloggerLife and my other lives running alongside it, knowing what I have to offer is far more than I could achieve by sticking to expectations set by other people.
Don’t get me wrong — so much has happened: a surprise press trip to one of my favourite cities so I could explore; a fantastic Twitter chat that helped open my eyes to other opportunities… 2015’s hit me with so much that’s asked me to step my game up, grinding away at the things I believe in if I want to grow them into anything real. I’ve walked so many paths to this point. I’ve tried collaborating with others to create written works of art. Tried following blogging rules and best practices to catch as many eyeballs as possible. But the journey’s taught me that I can’t accomplish everything I’m going for if I just stay one thing.
I can’t do things like everyone else does and expect to find my answers — I need to carve a path from the bedrock of my life; one that’ll let me do everything I must as a husband and father, but still let me create what I want to without sacrificing precious sleep and sanity.
And for that, a little over three decades deep into my life, I look at everything I’ve built so far and ask myself the simplest of questions:
More Than Blogging.
Looking around at my blogosphere, all too many of the people I came up with have fallen to the wayside, choosing to use their time in other ways. Blogging was cool back when it was just one big party in Toronto — used to be a time you couldn’t hit a party without bumping into a blogger — but as time brought maturity and a generation of content creators deciding to scrub their images clean, everything changed. Blogging grew more legitimate as a profession. Audience demands only grew as bloggers offered better content. In short, the blogosphere became a place where only those serious about their craft thrived, and I’ve seen enough bloggers decide the hustle wasn’t worth the effort anymore, that the rewards didn’t measure up to the blood, sweat and tears they needed to keep it going.
Sometimes I even question why I’m still at it. Everything that’s come from my #BloggerLife’s nice for sure, but life isn’t growing less complicated. Many have told me that if they wore my shoes, they’d have likely thrown the towel in by now, no room left for “childish things” and dedicating their time to raising families and providing for them with a career. It’s time to be an adult with adult priorities.
But why just fall in line when I could do so much more? Why sell myself short when I know there’re still piles of ideas I can mould, things that could become great with the right investment of time and hard work? And how am I supposed to tell my son to believe in himself and reach for his goals if I don’t do the same myself?
I’ve been lucky enough to make it this far. What 32-year old Casey can tell you that he couldn’t say before is that no matter how hard he needs to grind, there’s no substitute for knowing that you’re creating something real — something that’ll be there regardless of whatever else happens in your life.
And in its way, that’s the perfect birthday gift to myself.
Casey Palmer (July 15, 1983 — ): Long Live the Hustle!!!
So if someone wheeled out a birthday cake and told me to make a wish, I know exactly what I’d wish for. I’d wish to make amazing infographics — I have some stellar ideas for sweeping charts with tons of curated data, sculpting them with my design skills to tell stories you’d easily understand at first sight. Or wish to draw Fish ‘n’ Chimps from beginning to end, getting years’ worth of concepts out of my head and in a format where people can see what I’ve babbled about all this time. I’d wish to learn how to build apps and put so many of the cool ideas I’ve had and heard to market, dabbling in a digital space that many don’t dare to trod through.
If someone asked me to make a wish, what I’d want is even more time to do what I’m already doing — just do it far better. Sure, I’ve learned a ton ’til now, like patience and that I don’t have to do all the things to be proud of what I do, but when you’ve got more ideas than the time and energy to make them happen, swallowing that pill ain’t always easy.
But with age comes the wisdom and experience to know which battles to fight, and we all know good things come to those who wait.
So happy birthday to me. To the Casey in his 30s who’s finally figuring things out and seeing what he’s capable of. Happy birthday to the Casey who’s learned there’s more to life than the paycheque, the prowess, how many followers you’ve got or how many people think you’re hot.
Happy birthday, Casey Palmer — they say your 30s are the best years of your life; make sure you spend each day living up to that!
Until the next,