Thus I decided to become a writer. Despite it being my dream job for as long as I could remember I had never really given it serious credibility. After all, I’d also wanted to be a vet when I was a kid and that never went anywhere either. I guess after all this time it had just become something that I’d pushed to the back of my mind and forgotten about. Yet another casualty of youth. An unachievable dream that served no further purpose than to be just that, a dream something that I could pretend I wanted when I really had no idea what I wanted.
Yet, here I sit with nothing left to lose. For the past four years I’ve been regulated to the uninspiring position of stay-at-home mommy. I love my son, funny how parents always feel the need to point that out before complaining, but I’ve always wanted more for myself than just my connection to another person. I want to be special in my own right. Maybe not world famous, although it couldn’t hurt, but at least known. Not anonymous in my mediocrity.
I saw a movie once, not even the whole movie as I cannot recall the title, but at one point one character says to another something to the effect that the worst thing in the world is wasted potential. Well, I guess that’s my life in a nutshell, wasted potential.
I was always a smart kid, but looking back I could have been smarter, could have tried harder, applied myself, found a direction and followed through. It seems like most of the time I just went along with what other people thought I should be doing just to keep the peace, but putting as little effort as possible into it just to show them that I was still in control.
My journalism degree came about much this way. I was constantly told I was a good writer in high school and basically conned into joining the school newspaper staff my sophomore year. I didn’t like the pressure, only the accolades. I tried to drop out, but my teacher fought with me to keep using my gift and I wanted so badly to believe that there was a gift there, something uniquely mine and special that I stayed.
Later when I got to college it was time to figure out what I wanted to do with my life and having no better ideas of my own I went along with journalism because that’s what I’d always been told I was good at. I did add advertising because it seemed exotic and like the kind of thing a grownup would do, but mostly because I thought it would keep me off a newspaper staff and therefore free from the pressure and stress of the deadlines that came with it.
I did try writing for my college paper over the summer semester once, it didn’t go well. They weren’t as forgiving of my idiosyncrasies as my high school teacher had been. They didn’t feel the need to praise my efforts and before long I realized that I was entirely out of my league there. I didn’t even complete my last assignment as staff reporter. The semester was ending and I had no intention of staying on for the next one so I figured I had nothing to lose. Aside from the respect of my peers I guess I had been right.
After college I made a few half-ass attempts at getting into advertising only to realize that I had taken such a generalized approach to my education and required internship that I wasn’t actually qualified for anything. So rather than work harder or fight for what should have been my dream I let it go and just continued working at my retail job. It paid bills and I seemed to be good enough at it and good enough was all that I asked of myself.
When I became pregnant with my son and my husband and I made the decision that he would continue to work and I would stay home with the baby I naively thought I’d finally have a chance to leave retail once and for all and find out what I really wanted to do with myself. Funny how things rarely work out as planned. Instead I discovered what other, more successful mothers have known for many years, kids are a lot of work. As my son grew, what small measure of motivation I’d had in me to make something of myself dissipated.
Now as I stand on the brink of having to return to work, my son finally old enough to crave the social interactions of daycare, I no longer have anything to fall back on. For the first time ever I’m having to really try to get what I want and having no idea what it is that I want isn’t making it any easier.
As I lay in bed last night, my mind wandering over all the thoughts that fill my mind and keep me from sleep, I remembered my old dream of being a writer. I’ve tried to write stories before, oftentimes grand novels with casts of amazing characters that people would love to read. I’ve never made it more than a few pages of actual story and mostly just unimportant notes and research, busy work.
Anything I suppose that would delay the actual work of writing. Somewhere in my mind I had decided that I couldn’t fail if I never really tried. If I didn’t fail then I could always have that dream somewhere in the back of my mind, the last thing I had of who I used to be, of who I could maybe someday be again.
I don’t know where this will go, maybe nowhere. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time I thought I was going to make an attempt at actually setting a goal for myself and forcing myself to want something more. At this point though, I really have nothing else left to fall back on, nobody else who can make the choice for me and point me in the right direction.
Over the past four years I’ve watched my career prospects slip away, seen my personality shift and change and felt more isolated from society than I ever have. Going back to work might help get me out into the world again, but I’m not going to be the same person I once was. It would certainly be easier, just fall back into old patterns of following directions and only working as hard as absolutely necessary, but as each day brings me closer to 30 I can’t help but feel like I need to act now or risk losing myself entirely.
Somewhere inside of me there is still a glimmer of hope that I do have something special to offer. A gift all my own that will leave the world a better place. I know it sounds sappy, but at this point I really need one sure thing to hold on to. The only thing I can think of is that I was always told I was a good writer, I used to dream of being an author. If that is the potential I have, it would be a shame to waste it.