My dreams were killed early in life.

Before I even had the chance to appreciate the wonder and magnitude of my aspirations an adult destroyed them with seven words.

I was a sophomore in high school and I’d finally had an epiphany about that question asked of every child: What do you want to be when you grow up?

The answer had come to me the night before, and I’d waited all day to share it with the one teacher I imagined would appreciate my decision. During class I approached my English teacher and told him, “I’ve decided what I want to do with my life. I don’t know the specifics of how or what job exactly, but I want to work in literature.”

And that was when he fired the shots that killed my teenage dreams. “You’ll never make a living in literature.”

I graduated high school but entered the “real world” without any real passion for my path in life. I’d settled on a training program that guaranteed me a decent job. That job eventually led to me enrolling in college to pursue a nursing degree. While I enjoy nursing, and appreciate the opportunities this career has given me, I can’t say it’s my passion.

Literature—story-telling in particular—always lingered in my mind. I tried to satiate my cravings by reading obsessively. I’d scribble poetry, short stories and character notes, then toss them into the trash or some forgotten notebook. I’d daydream story lines and character situations, imagining the stories I’d love to read in a book or watch on screen.

The storylines kept haunting me, and at the age of thirty I finally began to write them down. I realized that being a writerwasn’t just an activity, but an occupation I could aspire to. I studied the industry and the art of writing. For years I experimented with genres and categories until I found my voice in young adult and adult. Then I began to submit my work to agents and publishers.

Anyone who has spent any amount of time in the creative arts knows how plentiful rejection is. In the pursuit of your dreams you’ll be tempted to give up—numeroustimes. There will be days when you’ll sob uncontrollably, and you’ll convince yourself that it isn’t worth the heartbreak. You may even vow that this timeyou’re really doing it, you can’t take the pain and you’re giving up for good.

But you’ll be back. And do you know why? Because dreams never really die, they always linger, but an unpursueddream can never be realized. Reaching your goals may take longer than you imagined, but as long as you continue to work toward it the possibility remains.

I know this because thirty years after my dreams were first shot down, and seventeen years after I found them again, I can finally say that I am a published author.

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Jodi Gallegos is a YA and NA/Adult author, black belt, and registered nurse. She lives with her husband, three sons and an evolving herd of undisciplined animals in Colorado. She has a well-earned fear of bears, but tolerates the Teddy and Gummy variety. She has been obsessed with books, both reading and writing them, for most of her life and prefers the written word to having actual conversations.