Advice From the River Styx: Just Do It Yourself!

Don't go complaining to Charon about the life you wish you had. Just do it yourself!

Charon, the boat man on the River Styx, who sails the dead into the Underworld, must be the most annoyed creature in existence. I can’t even imagine the amount of souls who try to bribe him into telling them some secret way of gaining life again. And I bet they all have one thing in common: un-fulfillment. I’m doing my best to not be one of them.

Let me explain.

The hardest thing I’ve found about writing lately is putting pen to paper and letting loose. Usually, a blank page lays in front of me, as I imagine the masterpiece I’ll ink. The result? A blank page, which is the main reason why I fell so far behind on blogging.

I got so obsessed over making everything a masterpiece that nothing got done.

The solution was so simple, though. I just put pen to paper and wrote. When thoughts appeared, I didn’t dismiss them as “not being good enough.” I got them down on the page. It’s the notion that a body in motion tends to stay in motion. The hardest part is always getting started, because that’s where the risk is taken and the willpower needs to kicks in.

To get back to writing, I had to engrave the words “Just Do It!” into my mind. And I wish those around me would do the same.

Sadly, though, no matter the level of desperation and depression, I find that too many people won’t take on the act of just “doing”- especially when it comes to their dreams and talents.

It’s heartbreaking…

I myself have been called too ambitious by some people. Back in January, I started Bridge Magazine– a Philadelphia, multicultural magazine. You see, it’s always been my dream to write- ever since I used to write sequels to my favorite R. L. Stine’s Goosebumps books back in second grade.

It was my destiny to become a writer. I graduated from Temple University with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications: Journalism and Multimedia. I had three internships and even taught writing workshops. I am a writer.

Too bad the economy didn’t see it that way.

I had applied to over 80 jobs since my graduation in 2009 with no luck. I was beaten, bloodied and bruised with failure. That is until my phenomenal magazine teacher from Temple asked me, “Sam, why don’t you just create a job for yourself? Create a magazine. Do it yourself!”

And I did. I had the ambition and the willpower to act.

Bridge debuted to some good reviews and despite the flaws of a first issue, I was proud.

As the leader of this, I’ve discovered that the hardest part is finding people who share the willingness to work toward their dreams. I wanted my attempt to make my dreams a reality, a chance for others to do the same. And I’ve found that it’s never a battle to come across those who have the goals. I’ve approached plenty of people who express the excitement of working for a publication. But it is difficult to find those who are willing to actualize those excitements.

Sadly, it seems much easier to come across those who settle for a job(s) or life they dislike. I don’t understand it! Where’s the fire? Where’s the adventure? Why choose to stick with the job you hate or stay in the life you can’t stand?

I’m not saying that the sucky job or situation is not needed. Bills. Marriage. Staying alive. But, I wish there were more people who would at least try. I launched Bridge, but I still have to work the 40 hours a week desk job to survive.

I listen to eight hours of podcast every day at work. One of my favorites is The Nerdist. In it, Chris Hardwick has talked about how people always tell him, “Dude, I wish I could do a podcast. I wish I could do what you do. What’s the secret?”

His reply is always, “Just do it yourself!” Don’t sit around and wait for opportunities to come your way.

And he’s completely right. Especially in this economy. To get myself in the right entrepreneur mindset, I no longer look at celebrities or well-established people in the business as marvelous, unattainable, god-like beings. I look at them, and declare, “I can do what you do!”

The days of sending out a resume and landing that dream job are mostly gone.

I had to be ambitious. I had to create my dream. I may not be getting paid enough to sustain myself yet, but I’m trying. This is life. If you’re not going to be ambitious now, then when? If you’re in a job you hate, then what does it matter if you try and fail? The boat man on the River Styx isn’t going to have your dream job waiting for you. I’m sure his boney ears have listened to plenty of those who never tried, but wish they had. And I’m sure he’s annoyed as hell.

“I wish I had taken a chance! I wish I had tried! If only I could go back!”

Spontaneous ambition doesn’t count for much once your dead.

It is not impossible to make a dream come true. Sometimes it’s good to bite off more than you can chew. Even if you do choke, and stay stuck in the life you never wanted, at least it’s not one you never attempted to change. So, if you’re frustrated, and feel like you have a dream or talents that are being wasted, listen for those annoyed words of the boat man shouting up from the River Styx as he sails sad souls to the afterlife:

“Just Do It Yourself!”


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