Who says you're an artist? You do.

“When you’re an artist,” Amanda Palmer wrote in her magnificent manifesto for the creative life, “nobody ever tells you or hits you with the magic wand of legitimacy. You have to hit your own head with your own handmade wand.”

If you'd asked me what I wanted to do with my life when I was 16 years old, I would have said a writer. I'd always loved reading. I'd always loved stories. I'd always thought writing stories for other people to enjoy would be the coolest, and scariest thing to do.

That's not a dream that flew very well with the people around me at the time. I was quite actively discouraged from pursuing that dream. I mean, it's fine as a sideline, on your time off. But very few people can live off their writing and we really don't think you could. So find something else, something more realistic, to do with your life.

I was told that, more or less in those exact words. And I listened. I launched a business at 18, which was successful enough. But it only lasted a couple years. Then I went into other fields, mostly in sales, and made that work well enough, but only for a short while. Then I thought maybe I should go back to school. I earned a law degree and got a job offer at a high-flying firm. I accepted it then turned it down a few weeks before I was set to start, to the great consternation of those around me who thought I was finally on the path to reasonable, practical prosperity.

I'm sure I was. But I'm also sure I would have been miserable trying to work as a lawyer.

It took me years to accept that I was really meant to be a writer and a storyteller and focus on that. So I understand how difficult and challenging it is to craft your own handmade magic wand to hit yourself on the head with. But it's the only thing that really works, that lets you be who you were meant to be. Don't ever let anyone distract you from your magic with considerations of practicality. Be who you are, and make that work for you.