Yesterday I took a personality test as an assignment for my Career Counseling class. I had to fill out 7-8 of the jobs I imagined myself having at some point in my life, starting with the earliest and ending with the most recent. It looked something like this (beginning with 13 years old and going through today):
Elementary School Teacher
High School English Teacher
Real Estate Agent
The section of the test was aptly called “Daydreams.”
In the midst of wavering from teaching to real estate and finally ending up wanting to be a counselor and professor, I can see the evolution of myself. So much change and yet, so much of the same. I wanted to be a teacher at 13 years old, and I want to be a teacher (professor) today. I’m doing web marketing, but not in the same depth I had one day thought/hoped to be. It’s the perfect job for right now, and is helping put me through school, but I don’t want to do it forever. Sometimes I get a paycheck for writing, but most of the time I don’t.
I will never be finished growing and reaching. It’s what I do. I have over a year left to complete my master’s and am already plotting a Ph.D. I want to open a small private practice and do some volunteer work in the community. I want to have a baby and get swept up in the job and role of a mother. I want to write.
Through it all, since college (and before, I just hadn’t realized it yet), I have wanted to be a writer. I still want to be a writer. Especially on mornings like this, when I don’t have anything pressing to do and my house is quiet. The wood floors are chilly and I bundle up in socks and sweats, wrapping my cold hands around a mug of café au lait. It reminds me of our trip to New Orleans, a city full of people with stories. While we were wandering the city one evening, we passed by a girl, about my age, sitting in front of an old typewriter. She had a cup for money and a sign that said “Poet for Hire.” I loved that. It made me smile and ache at the same time. Oh, how I wish I had the guts to abandon everything and sit on a street with a cup and a typewriter. But I don’t, because there are always bills and obligations and honestly, I’m not the type to sit on the street. I like my cold wood floors and hot coffee too much.
There are moments, flashes of frustration and feelings of discouragement, that I wonder what I’m doing. Why am I in school? I run the Saints Streets and think of ideas for a murder mystery; I jot ideas in half-filled notebooks all over my house. I see a stylish woman on Facebook, a friend of a friend of a friend, in her fifties, wearing thick black glasses and calling herself a writer, and I want to know what her life is like. Does she wear socks and type away on a Mac? Does she have a house by the water where she goes to feel inspired for her next novel?
And so I type, on a Mac, wearing socks and black glasses. Life is a funny thing. I wanted to be a teacher, I still want to be a teacher. I could listen to people tell their stories all day long. They all carry different amounts of joy and pain. Some carry too much pain and I want to help them, so I study to be a counselor. I wear so many hats in the course of a week, a day. I want to be a writer. I have always wanted to be a writer.
Should I quit school? Sell everything I own and sit on the street in New Orleans with a cup and an old typewriter? Or should I continue doing what I’m doing — writing, going to school, becoming a counselor, thinking about Ph.D. programs, always writing. One day, I’ll be in my fifties. Maybe I’ll have a house by the water.
I don’t know where this path leads or where it ends — or if it ever does end. I love that about it. It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s beautiful and fun and messy and mysterious. The best kind of path. Yes, I might not know much about it — I can only see a little ways ahead before it twists and turns out of my sight — but I do know I’m headed in the right direction.