I’m a writer. And I love that I’m a writer. However, this was not my chosen path. I’m a living example of “life’s what happens when you’re making other plans”. While I have always been a writer, there was only one point in my life (before the last decade) that I really wanted to commit myself to being a writer. It was spring of my sophomore year in college, and I remember it well.
I knew I didn’t want to stay in Boston. I was just too naive for the big city life that I thought I wanted. After escaping a sexual assault literally by the grace of God, and watching the building across the street from my house be engulfed in flames by an arsonist who was striking all over the neighborhood, along with some other distressing events, I knew I didn’t want to stay there. I went home to surprise my parents for a long weekend, and I told them I needed to move. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to stay in school. So I floated the idea of moving to Ocracoke Island, getting a restaurant job, and writing for a year. Surprisingly, they supported this notion. That may have been all I needed to hear — that they would support my stepping off the college track and trying something different — because I moved to Colorado and kept going to college.
I forgot what I had always wanted to be when I grew up.
Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to be a nurse.
How this could have completely slipped my mind when I decided to go to college, I do not know. My brother made this same observation a few years back. I was a candy striper from the time I was allowed to be. I volunteered in the old hospital until the new County hospital was built, and then I volunteered there. I logged more hours than anyone ever had in the program. I only stopped when I got a job to help pay for college. And then I just….forgot.
Maybe it was because I wasn’t very good at science. At my high school graduation, my chemistry teacher gave me a vase that he had hand-carved and told me I tried harder and did worse than any student he had ever had. Perhaps that threw me off my plan. I did avoid any science class I could throughout college, until in senior year, I realized I needed freshman biology to graduate (the only time I was ever grateful for a C minus).
Later in life, I remembered this goal. I thought about going back to school for nursing. But Ex-Pat had been a respiratory therapist at one time and was not encouraging. He said nurses were treated like the crap they had to clean up. So I let the goal go again, and just fell into a career path that took me to health care marketing for private companies. It was a pretty satisfying career. The goal came up again with Dr. Narcissist, who also discouraged me, so I let it go again. I don’t even feel like exploring the reasons he didn’t think it was a good idea. And I got a job writing.
But now, M encourages me to do anything. I’ve thought about going back to school, but when I think about how old I’d be when I finished and got my first job, it’s just daunting. I’ve seen my niece completely change careers from engineering to nursing and she couldn’t be happier. She’s found her tribe. I wonder if I’ve missed finding mine (with the exception of catering friends, because we definitely are a tribe unto ourselves).
I’ve told this story about falling off my path to K, and it’s been one of the things she fears most about her own goals. I suspect it’s one of those cautionary tales that will help her keep her focus. Not a bad thing. And as I continue to write, and get back to writing for myself, I am also trying to find the right path to providing care to others. There are a lot of forks in the road to explore once the world settles down a bit.
Have you followed your childhood dreams? Have you found your path? Your tribe? I wonder how many of us wanderers are out there.
Flights of geese in the morning
K’s new job
Plants that grow despite me