I was lied to. Or, I should say I was never given the whole story.
Everything I was told, or that I read/heard, in high school basically implied that if I got a University degree that I would be all set. I would graduate, get a job and that would be that. They never told me that so much rides on your first job out of school. They never told me that sometimes that first job that you think is going to set you for life ends up being...well, nothing like you expected. They never told me that sometimes your first job out of school can also be the first job you are let go from and that you can be unemployed for the first time a month into living in your first apartment (and having, you know, actual BILLS to pay).
But this all happened to me (needless to say I would have appreciated a head's up as to the possibility). This experience set off a sequence of events that resulted in finding myself inching closer and closer to 30 while spending my working life jumping between temporary secretary jobs where I am not appreciated and that don't really suit me (setting: present day). Soul-sucking corporate jobs with lots of forms, regulations and people blaming you for things that are out of your hands. Jobs that make you long for 4:30 and give you permanent neck and shoulder pain and tension.
And in between all of this, a job search that is pretty soul-sucking in its own right. A search that after a while appears futile and makes you wonder if you have anything of value to offer, if there was any point in getting that degree after all, and why is it so many of your peers seem to be "getting it right" while you are getting it so...wrong.
Not exactly the rosy image I had in my high-school head about my future.
The one blessing from my unexpected career woes? Realizing what I really love and am really good at. Had I never been forced to do so much self-examination and career research, I may have never realized where my true passion lies and the number of opportunities available within that niche for someone who is willing to reach out and grab them. I am not sure I would have ever looked at a skill that lurked there the entire time - my entire life, to be exact - in my peripheral vision as a potential career path had I not been forced to think of "outside the box" ways of bringing in income, as well as my purpose in life.
I have always been a writer (even though I hate when people say that, and they say it a lot) but never a confident one. I never thought of myself as a writer nor thought of the skill as a "talent" or as something that made me special. As an extremely quiet and shy kid growing up, it was a struggle for me to even raise my hand in class and give a 10 second answer, let alone admit to myself that I was talented or special in any area.
I just knew I liked doing it. It felt good to have my essay chosen to read at my 6th grade graduation (out of all the essays in my class). I actually liked writing papers in English class (if that's not an indication of uniqueness, I don't know what is). My marks were always highest in English and arts-related classes. In Jr High I started writing a movie screenplay (alas it never got finished, but if it did I imagine it would have starred Rachel McAdams).
It felt good that, even though I was too scared to open my mouth and speak my mind, that I could always get my thoughts and opinions out on paper. Even if I couldn't be one of those confident and articulate people that everyone listened to in person, I could at least be that person through my pen or keyboard.
I have learned and grown so much since then, but writing is still an outlet for me. And now that I realize it can not only be an outlet, but a way to earn a living, I think I love it even more. You see, I am of the mind that things happen for a reason - so, I am starting to think that maybe there is a reason that my career trajectory has not gone as I would have liked or expected. Maybe there's a reason that I am not liking these secretarial jobs (and they don't like me back).
Maybe it's because I am following the wrong path, looking in the wrong places. Perhaps I was far too focused on getting a "regular" job where I'm always working to please others and feed others' souls rather than working to fill up my own. Maybe it's time to shake things up, give up on the whole "regular" existence thing and take a chance on something I love.
I have been working a bit towards writing for work for about a year now, but I feel I would benefit from some guidance and some mentorship. I feel like I am finally pointed in the right general direction, but I need someone to lead me from here. I know I want to write for a living, but I don't quite have the confidence or the full range of skills to jump right in with both feet on my own.
I feel that your writing course would help give me the confidence boost, practical tools, advice and motivation I need to really make a future out of this. It's time to tell myself it's ok to do what THEY never did - go forth, and follow your passion.
This blog post is an entry into The Damn Fine Words Writing Contest.