“I want to be a writer.”
For years I had a dream of becoming an author. As a child I wrote stories and bound them into books. My mother had kept two of them and I remember clearly how much I loved writing even when I was young.
As I grew up I followed the script that had been written for me. I was raised to believe that the answer to having a good life was to go to college, get a good job, get married and have kids. Honestly, it didn’t even occur to me that there was another way.
I went to college at the state university, working to support myself financially and taking out loans to pay for tuition. I have always been fortunate that school was easy for me so I didn’t have to work too hard to get good grades. After I graduated I started looking for an entry-level position somewhere. My degree in Spanish and Linguistics didn’t lend itself easily to a career in New England so I got a job as an administrative assistant in a company that managed retirement accounts. I was on my way to being a success, doing something I really had no interest in doing.
I met my (ex)husband in college. We didn’t have much in common except a desire to be successful. When we were dating we fell into a routine of me tagging along to do things with his friends. It seemed fine at the time. After a while we moved in together and I stopped tagging along and stayed home while he went out. We eventually bought a house and got married. The house was a duplex that we renovated. Renting out one of the units while we lived in the other gave us a bit of extra income and a feeling of success. Eventually we had kids, another checkmark in the list of things that I hoped to accomplish.
We got into the routine so many people are in: go to work, take care of the kids, watch a couple hours of TV, go to bed so we can do it all over again. What happened to our goals? What happened to my dream of becoming a writer? Was there anything more or was this all there would ever be?
This morning, when I woke up and started thinking about what I wanted to accomplish today it occurred to me how different my life is from the one I thought I was supposed to have. Or, maybe more importantly, I thought about how the life I plan to have is nothing like the one I used to think was “good.” And even more, I want that for my children.
Over the past several years I’ve learned that there is more than one path to be followed. I’ve discovered that the possibilities really are limited only by our own beliefs, our self-doubts, our fears. I’ve found out that I can live the life of my dreams if I’m willing to let go of my old beliefs and put in the effort. And that’s what I am going to do.
I don’t have to work in an office 40 hours a week if I don’t want to. I don’t have to have a job doing menial tasks for someone who thinks it’s important to have 3 different documents all saying the same thing. I don’t have to be in a relationship with someone who doesn’t fit me, my life, my dreams, or who isn’t a role model for my kids. I don’t have to constantly struggle with my weight or my self-image.
If I choose, I can spend my life creating things of value. I can do things I believe in, things that I know are important…not just to me but that are important to others. I can wait to be in a relationship with someone who understands all this and who wants it too.
And I can teach my children that they get to live the life that is right for them. I want them to go to college, but I don’t believe that’s the only way, or even the best way, anymore. So if they decide not to go to college I support that, as long as they have another plan. I would love for them to get married and have babies for me to play with, but I don’t believe they should settle for someone who isn’t right because getting married is more important than being happy.
I’m still fighting my fears, my self-doubt. I’m not immune to that just because I’ve grown. But I will conquer my fears. I know I will. I have done it before. The first time is the hardest. Now that I know I can do it, it’s much easier to do it again. And so I keep pushing forward, toward the life I know I deserve.