When I was a teenager and deciding about university, a friend of my mum’s suggested that I take a Year out before I went, to find myself. His suggestion was to go travelling, to “Find Myself”.
…go travelling, I mean. I often wonder what it would have been like if I’d maxed out my credit card and got a loan and just done it.
However, I didn’t do it and my life took a different route.
I found out about myself in a different way. I suppose I also lost a few things about myself along the way. I’m starting to find them again… but am I too late for that?
I watch my daughter dancing to Abba (she loves singing, dancing and Mamma Mia) and I wonder… am I doing the right thing for her?
When it comes to the point where she and my son want to go find themselves, will I have the guts to support them and let them do it?
Does it matter if they follow their dreams first before they settle down?
Or should I insist that they do something Practical and learn the hard lessons of life first?
* * *
My favourite Abba song is I have a Dream. The lyrics are wonderful, they sum me up in so many ways and make me cry or laugh depending on the mood I’m in. Either way, the hair on the back my neck stands up when it is sung well.
And no, I don’t do a good rendition. Don’t even ask…
What started all this introspection off?
Well, I read this on Kim Koning’s Blog today:
There are people who put their dreams in a little box and say, “Yes, I’ve got dreams, of course I’ve got dreams.” Then they put the box away and bring it out once in a while to look in it, and yep, they’re still there. These are great dreams, but they never even get out of the box. It takes an uncommon amount of guts to put your dreams on the line, to hold them up and say, “How good or how bad am I?” That’s where courage comes in. – Erma Louise Bombeck
I was intrigued, purely because I have recently been questioning what I should do, with (what is, after all), my life. So I read on a little further.
They say Friday the 13th is a bad day in the luck department. I have decided to fight against common thought and turn it into good luck. 13 has always been a lucky number for me. This year, Friday the 13th, May 2011 is incredibly significant.
Friday the 13th, May 2011 my job description changed to:
Full Time Writer / Author
A year ago I decided that by 2012 I would be a full-time writer with at least 1 story published. The story is busy being published in Tales for Canterbury as I write this. I also decided in January this year that one of my goal-resolutions would be to go full-time writing this year. As of 13th May, I can tick that goal off my list.
After much thought and contemplation, I decided to put my goals on the line and go full-time writing. This was not done lightly nor was it done alone. I have the support of an incredible family and amazing friends behind me. I also have the wider support network of some amazing online writer friends.
It struck a chord inside me (it didn’t help that PT was watching Mamma Mia at the time and singing along to I have a Dream) and I started thinking. Have I really been following my dreams?
To be able to answer that, I need to look at what they actually are.
When you’re a kid you dream about being an adult and doing what you want. You say to yourself, “When I’m a big girl of 5 / 10 / 16 / 18 / 21 (delete as necessary) I’ll be…”
This is the bit I always had trouble with.
I can remember wanting to be a Ballerina after watching The Nutcracker on TV, wanting to be a Policewoman / Teacher / Librarian – they were interchangeable depending on what mood I was in.
Then when I became a Cadet in the ATC (Air Training Corp) I wanted to be a fast Jet Pilot – I was addicted to Top Gun – but a trip to the Ophthalmologist’s put paid to that.
Books were my refuge and I’d already decided that I wanted to be a Writer long before the Fast Jet Pilot thing. However, every adult I talked to gave me the “You need to put away childish dreams and focus on reality” talk.
The only one who didn’t was my Mum, but she also didn’t know how I could manage it. Piers Anthony encouraged me, but he said, “You need to learn the craft first and that could take a while. Go get a job to fund it and practise in every spare minute.”
So I went to Uni and tried to do what he suggested. Turns out, I had chosen the wrong course. I’ve been bumbling along ever since. I know why of course. 20-20 Hindsight and all that…
I didn’t set myself any Goals.
When we set goals, we are in command. Clearly understood goals bring our lives into focus just as a magnifying glass focuses a beam of light into a burning point. Without goals our efforts may be scattered and unproductive. – Ezra Taft Benson
I’ve been a Writer now, since I was fifteen – something I didn’t recognise until recently! In the last fifteen years or so, I have been through a lot of different things and tried different jobs.
None of them makes me feel as happy or fulfilled as writing does. Even Teaching (which I enjoy doing) doesn’t cause this much of a smile when I think about my past. I’ve had a fair few stories published and I know enough about the business to self publish as well.
My Dream isn’t to be a writer; it’s to make a living as a Writer and entertain people with my stories – be they Audio, Print, Electronic or even made into films, be they animated or otherwise.
I’m 36 this year. I have added my contribution to the Human Race in the form of PT and NOS (I’d be happy to add more, but that’s up to Mother Gaia) and although I have to support them, surely I am allowed to be happy in myself?
Looking at it from another point of view, I’m supporting TOH while he follows his Dream and retrains to become an Illustrator / Animator / Computer Games Character Designer (he hasn’t exactly decided which way to go yet!)
So why shouldn’t I do the same?
Now I’m unemployed as a Teacher. I’ve been working in my spare time as a Writer (not being paid much for it though) and doing the occasional voluntary and supply position to keep my teaching hand in, so why shouldn’t I make the leap too?
Yes, I know all the practical voices start screaming…
- You need to keep a roof over your head
- You need to keep money coming in regularly to feed the bills and family.
- You have to be practical and sensible.
- You are the Mother, you need to be a good role model to your Children
Sorry for shouting, those voices tend to be rather loud when they get going. Let’s tackle them one at a time and rationalise this…
Practical Voice One: You need to keep a roof over your head
Yes, this and number two are essentials. Nevertheless, why can’t I work Supply three days a week? That would cover those… I can always work more or less, according to what I need to pay for.
Practical Voice One & Two – But you can’t do that, you’d lose benefits and so on and so forth…
Would I? Do I really know that?
Practical Voice One & Two – Um, no, not really… we’re not sure…
Well then – that gives me something to look into.
*makes a note*
Practical Voice Three: You have to be practical and sensible.
Do I? Why?
Practical Voice Four: You are the Mother, you need to be a good role model to your Children.
What’s a better Role Model? A confident woman, doing exactly what makes her happy, or, a depressed woman stressing about not being in a decent job?
I know what I think… what about you?
Practical Voice Three & Four – Um… well….damn it you are not supposed to twist words like that!
Why not? I’m a Writer. Words are my business. They help me to teach and they help me to work as a writer. So I’d say it’s up to me to make them say what I want then to say.
*All the Practical Voices Fade away muttering unhappily*
So, now what?
Make the Goals of course!
*Wanders away singing to herself…*
Thanks to Kim Koning for the inspiration…