28 April 2007


The questions are constant right now: What will make me into what I want to be? I have a degree in journalism and yet, I would never say I am a journalist. Why not? What would happen? Why do I care so much about being judged or “found out” by people I don’t know or care about? How do I define success?

My feelings towards a lot of these issues were instilled in me over years growing up. I heard constantly, you’re smart, you’re pretty. But it was always in a too bad kind of way. Like you’re smart enough to make something of yourself, too bad we don’t have the money, the connections, the know-how, the whatever, to allow you to be successful. I grew up very conflicted: I can be anything I want, except I can’t.

My parents really didn’t know better, that is what they still believe. But I am learning better. It doesn’t matter what school you went to, who you know, where you came from. Those things can help, dramatically sometimes, but all they do is help. They don’t make or break.

My dad is smart. He has good ideas. He is always building, tinkering, making. At one point he had a successful business but he chose to close instead of expanding, because he was afraid of taking risks. He wished his parents had encouraged him, but they never did. He’s voiced that to me and my sister over the years. However, he is also the first one to say don’t do it when we are contemplating anything at all risky. (And I really do mean anything, even driving to the mall at night.) Regardless of what he said, his own regrets, he taught us that safety and security is number one. Well, I’ve learned that safety and security are just concepts, they aren’t even real.

I listened to these quiet limitations for a long time. The first thing I did as an young adult was moved in with a man and married him. I worked the same job for 10 years (my first one out of high school). I bought a house around the corner from my parents (in a city I hated). I never had credit card debt. I saved every year and went on one vacation. I never did anything I wanted to do without careful deliberation and weighing risks against definite benefits. Any surprise I was scared and miserable and deflated? The risks always outweigh the guaranteed benefits, that is why they’re called risks.

Confession: When I was young, I could see myself in a porno more easily than I could see myself married with children. I’m not saying I wish I would’ve done that, only saying why on earth would pursue a path that I never wanted in the first place. Why didn’t I try to become a porn star?

Two years ago, I went out (without my dad) and found an apartment. I moved from my nice brick three-bedroom house in the safe small town I was born in, to an overpriced crappy one-bedroom apartment in the dangerous big city next door. And I’ve never felt so safe or so free or so happy. I left my perfectly-fine can-count-on husband who never made me feel one bit of passion or life and started dating a man that I was pretty sure I shouldn’t be dating and that I was completely unsure whether would be there the next day, but one that made me feel more passionate and alive than I had ever been. He made me feel poetic. I expected heartbreak, but I decided not to care.

For the past year, I haven’t been a secretary. I’ve been at home, with really no structure at all to my time. I’ve been able to do whatever I wanted to do. And when people ask at dinner or a party what do you do, it causes more stress and embarrassment than ever. Because the answer I feel inside is, Nothing. Failure.

But what I’ve done is this: Reading and writing blogs. Taking photographs. Traveling. Helping my boyfriend with his business and legal issues. Organizing and cleaning the house. Baby-sitting. Above in order of quantity of time spent. So why isn’t my answer: reader, writer, photographer, traveler, or assistant?

My purpose in re-telling these stories is to remember that I took chances, and I became what I wanted in my personal life. I wasn't easy or smart or safe, but it has been amazingly successful. I have never been so happy or felt so right about my love life. That has been my saving grace when I really look at my life and know I haven’t even tried career-wise. Personal life: 100%. Professional life: 0%. Well, that’s 50% average, so I am doing ok. But I’m not doing ok and that has to change. And I have a feeling if I apply what I’ve learned in my personal life to my professional life, it will also be successful – whatever I decide that is.

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