I think my first experience with this disconnect between the dream and the reality was when I went to France in high school. I dreamed of living in Paris, going to school and hanging out at the Louvre with my friends in my free time. What I got was living in a town of 3000 people with out much to do, long, dreary school days where I would leave for school in the dark under drizzling skies and returning at the end of the day under the same conditions. I remember a very hard Christmas time where I felt so homesick and I would have done anything to have been able to go home and see my family again. And I remember the girl who I had considered to be my best friend since 5th grade dumping me that spring. Despite it all, I finished out that year with a great sense of accomplishment and I still consider it to be one of the best experiences of my life.
Parenthood has been a similar experience for me. Before my daughter was born I would dream of having a beautiful little baby and life would be sweet and wonderful and perfect. What I got was colic and sitting up all night when the baby was sick. Temper tantrums and having to be constantly vigilant in order to keep the kid out of trouble. Now that she is older, she is the most beautiful thing that I have ever made and I am so proud of her. Again, another really difficult task that was so worth it. (The other one is worth it, too!)
Now I am trying to create a career in ceramics/art. Rather than being the glamorous, easy career that everyone thinks it is, it really is a lot of hard work--and I've barely begun! It's ridiculously expensive getting started. I know that I spent far more than the $300 that I made off of my show in October putting it on, yet it was so worth it and I can't wait to put together another one, despite all the stress and time that it takes. The art world is a bewildering place to navigate. It's so much about who you know, not as much about what you create. Standard gallery commission is 40% of sales and the artist is expected to cover the cost of materials so it can be really hard to make much money at all. Booth fees can be astronomical and a show is considered to be successful if you cover the booth fee, forget about making a profit! $20-$35 is a normal 'jury' fee for entering shows, and you're not guaranteed to be in the show! And, of course, one needs to be on one's toes and do one's research on galleries so you don't get swindled!
So why do I do it? In part because I feel driven to pursue this dream that I've had since I was young of being an artist, despite my father's insistence that I get a degree in something that I could make a living in when I was 19. And also, because I really think that I can make it, even if I never become the next Damien Hirst...OK, maybe not Hirst, but Jun Kaneko would be cool. There's a drive inside me that needs to be fed and the occasional successes still out weigh the failures and the struggles, even if there are far more of the latter than the former.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that if it's worth pursuing, than it's probably going to be difficult at times, but don't give up.