My name is Astrid Barbour and I grew up in Los Angeles. My parents were divorced before I was born and I grew up mostly under the care of my mother. She suffered from borderline personality disorder as well as a proclivity towards substance abuse, so though I grew up in a privileged family my childhood was complicated.
As a young girl, I spent a lot of time alone and became a voracious reader. Books were like gold to me and I spent every moment I could drinking in the words contained in their spines. I relished reading stories above my reading level and started a game in which I underlined words I didn’t know. I made a point to learn their definition and integrate them in my lexicon.
At the age of 12 I began writing short stories. Struggling with my family’s issues, writing was the sole pastime that brought me a sense of ease. Through fictionalized my experiences in an abusive household I was able to better understand what I was going through. I truly believe that writing was my saving grace.
I continued on writing through middle school and high school. I challenged myself to enter honors and AP classes. I became an editor on my high school and college newspapers. I wrote any chance I had, entering my stories in literary magazines and school contests. I got a job writing for a local newspaper and finally felt in my element. However, as graduation neared and print journalism was clearly dying, I became fearful of the career path that I had always envisioned for myself. Scared of failure and of someone learning about my past experiences, through studying my writing, I pivoted into a career in entertainment.
Post college I began to work at a talent agency, with the eventual goal of acting as a pupet master to people who had been braver than I and were pursing their creative passion. Years later, I found myself at another representation company, representing writers and influencers that I believed in wholeheartedly. Yet somehow, I still felt unfulfilled. I had given up on my dream of writing because I lacked the confidence to believe that maybe I had a shot at it. I felt disillusioned and depressed. Like I had when I was young, I decided to begin writing.
Over the last year I rediscovered my love for writing and for the first time in so long, began to share my work with other people. I’ve always had an immense amount of fear surrounding my craft, but I found that the more I wrote, the less I cared about that fear.
A month ago, I decided to leave my job and pursue my passion full-time. It was a terrifying decision. Not only did I have clients who depended on me, but I had built a life centered around my work. I truly didn’t know what it would be like to focus on myself.
As I write this, I’ve just signed my exit paperwork and I’m filled with anxiety. Stronger than that anxiety though is my excitement. I’m grateful for my partner, family, and friends for having supported me as I grappled with this change.
The message of my Story…
The message I would like to impart on others is that if you have a burning passion in your gut you owe it to yourself to pursue it. Not everyone has a passion! Sure, change is scary, especially if the change leads you to a place of uncertainty. Ultimately, life is extremely short and unless you follow your passion it is unlikely that you will find fulfilment. It has taken a lot of personal exploration and growth, but I hope that sharing my story might inspire another to take the plunge as well. If it scares you, chances are it’s probably worth it.