Thinking back, I think I always knew I wanted to be a writer. When our school had Book Sales (which honestly, in accordance with my complete dork-dom, were my favorite time of the year), they also sold blank books, which I bought by the dozen. A whole white, unblemished book! Bound, even! Full of possibilities, full of crisp white pages to fill up with my thoughts! Utopia!
Even before then, I always had a journal, though I willingly called it my diary at that time. My first one was orange with a little mouse on it, complete with lock and key. It had “My Diary” emblazoned upon the front, and within I wrote my thoughts, desires, experiences.
Like the time that Sara Christy threw the volleyball at me in gym class? I promptly kicked her in the knee, and promptly went home and wrote about it. Nicole Elwell, the girl down the street, annoyed me to no end, though today I can’t for the life of me remember why. I talked about my dance classes, my best friend Beth Jerome, and later, as I grew, about the ever-so-secret crushes that I had but would never act upon.
Such as the one I had on Ethan Foster in third grade, and when he asked me “to go with him” even after the catastrophic boy-looking feathered-on-both-sides haircut that I got (a result of my Dad taking me to the barber shop, letting me get whatever I wanted done to my hair, me saying I liked it with the sides back and them subsequently mullet-izing me, to my Mother’s extreme horror such that she called her hairdresser immediately and the only remedy was to turn me into Tiny Tim crossed with Farrah Fawcett), and yet, despite my secret crush, I said ‘no.’ I remember his sweet voice asking me ‘why?’, why I couldn’t go with him and me just repeating “I don’t know” because my Dad was in the room and I was far too mortified to tell my parents I liked boys just yet. I always wonder what would have happened if I had said yes since he was (probably still is) absolutely darling. Oh well, the choices we make…But I digress.
I was always writing, knew it was my strong suit, and loved to not only write what I had written but read it aloud as well. My 7th grade English teacher, Mr. Werner, is to whom I often attribute my zeal for the written word, but it wasn’t until High School that I realized how much I loved to speak in front of people. Perhaps it was those many, many student council elections that I subsequently lost, perhaps it was the only child in me, but I loved it. I’m shocked that I never pursued acting past those few classes I had at the Beck Center when in elementary school, but again…the choices we make.
When looking for a college, the naïveté in me combined with the inflated opinion of myself caused me to ‘pooh-pooh’ any schools in Ohio; the only school I applied to was Ohio University and decided against it, despite my scholarship, because it didn’t have a good enough Pre-Med program. You see, I was beginning to stray.
Along with writing, I also found a natural talent for the sciences, which is the analytical side in me acting up. Whether it was all of those logic puzzles we did on a daily basis in the Gifted Program (the same program that embarrassed me to no end, being that it isolated me from most of my classmates — kids never want to be too dumb or too smart or even be anything but normal, you know), or an inherent fascination with Tweedle Bug colonies when younger, I found myself deciding that the career of a doctor would be the perfect one for me.
So I applied to top-notch schools, went to Carolina, and balanced my Biology/Genetics degree with as many journalism classes as I could take. Oh, the choices we make.
On graduation day, I decided I didn’t want to go to Med school. Coming to the realization that you don’t HAVE to do everything you are able to was a huge realization for me. I always felt bound to science, obligated to follow that path, since not doing so would be, in essence, denying a gift. Yet I don’t know of a day since that I have felt that free, felt that confident in my decision, and being elated in the fact that, for me, the matter was final.
Since then, I’ve gone to Grad school, left Grad school, lived in three cities, seven houses, and now, five jobs and three cats later, I wonder about the choices I’ve made. I’ve turned down offers to work for magazines in NYC, due to the unlivable salaries. I’ve accepted jobs with the promises of writing, only to find my only writing projects to be formal letters of complaint. And despite all I’ve accomplished, despite knowing how far I’ve come, I still feel – still know – that something is missing.
My Mom tells me to have “An Attitude of Gratitude.” I tell her to stop watching Oprah so much. (She claims it’s not as good this year since everyone is “Living their Best Lives.” I tell her again to stop watching Oprah so much.) But it makes me think – am I living MY best life? Am I doing what I should be, living where I should be, working where I should be? I feel like a broken record, constantly questioning this decision or that decision and always looking for more, wondering if there’s something inherently wrong with me that I feel this nagging yearning that seriously, I’m holding something back. And that I am being HELD back.
By these choices I make.