Sunday, January 13, 2008

Where I'm Going, Where I've Been

Before I recap my Vegas trip, I have some thoughts that I'd just like to get out there. I'm not sure if I'm asking for advice, but if you have any, feel free to share, O wise readers.

At the risk of sounding both cheesy and egotistical, I have always felt that I am meant to do things that matter. I have always wanted to make a difference. Even as a child, I understood that my way of making a difference was through the written word. My teachers genuinely thought I was a very talented writer and encouraged me to no end. Everyone who knew me told me that I was going to be a writer someday. Everyone believed in me, and I believed in myself. I had big dreams.

And some things never change. I still have those big dreams, but I have given up on making them a reality. Maybe "given up" isn't the right phrase - instead, I should probably say that I have temporarily lost my way. When I was 20, I dropped out of college and began writing like mad (I was also extremely depressed, which really fed the writing fever). Eventually, I went back to school and got my BA. During those years, I continued writing (mostly poetry) and got some things published. I decided to start graduate school for several reasons: 1) If I am going to end up teaching, I would rather teach college students; 2) I love learning, and I love school; and 3) I didn't want to decide on a career right then.

Once I started graduate school, I stopped writing on a regular basis and instead focused mostly on my studies. As most people who are in theory-based programs can attest, grad school sucks the creativity out of its students, making them into automatons who talk about structuralism, liminality, and feminist theory. (I am exaggerating a bit.) And truthfully, part of me is so excited by the wealth of knowledge that is at my fingertips. But the other part of me is so burned out and so tired of forcing myself to write papers and meet deadlines.

I am in my third year of grad school, and I am no closer to figuring out what career I want to pursue. I think I would be a great editor, and it seems like a solid career. Many people have told me that they can see me as a college professor, but that's not how I picture myself (not at this point, anyway). I could do freelance writing, open a bookstore, work at a newspaper, and so on and so forth. While all of these things appeal to me on a certain level, I feel like I am running away from what I really want and the things that I am meant to do. (I am chuckling a little at that last sentence, because I'm not really a person who normally feels driven by destiny.)

At what point did I let go of the dream? It had to have been in high school - once I began thinking seriously about college, I was surrounded by people who wanted me to choose a career path. What's a girl to do when she can't follow her passion, when she is forced to choose something realistic? She begins to embrace a life of mediocrity, because that feels like her only choice.

And that is where I find myself at this point in my life. I have been standing at a crossroads for quite some time now, hating my job, wishing to be done with school, and looking forward to the weekends so much that I don't really enjoy the present moments all that much anymore. I have seen who I might become, and it scares me. I don't want to be the unfulfilled woman who hates her menial job and is bitter because of it. I just want to be happy with what I'm doing. I can accept that bullshit is going to come with any job (and anything else in life, for that matter), but I refuse to accept that hating one's job is a way of life and that I must work solely for the sake of making a living. Maybe that is completely naive of me, but at this point, I just need to believe this.

I don't think Roy realized that when he gave me my camera for Christmas, he wasn't just giving me something to tinker and play with. He gave me the spark of creativity that I have been missing, and in a sense, he gave me my dream back. With my camera, I have been able to capture pictures of the world as I see it (albeit usually blurry, unfocused, and badly arranged/composed). I have realized how happy I am when I am doing something that allows me to be creative. I have so missed feeling like this.

My goal is to keep taking pictures, to keep writing, to begin submitting my poetry for publication again, and to not deny myself my dreams. I am not sure where this road is leading me, but hopefully it will take me to a place where I feel happy and excited to face the world every day. Hopefully I will begin to feel that I have had a positive impact on the world and those who surround me as opposed to being an unproductive robot.

As Joseph Campbell said, all I really need to do is follow my bliss. Hopefully it will lead me far away from my current place of employment.


Discombobulated said...

I am sorry it feels like you have lost your purpose. I think if you found a position where your talents were actually utilized, you would feel more fulfilled.

It's amazing how happy or useless our jobs can make us.
Hang in there, and keep funneling that creative energy into picture posts, for your readers' benefit :)

ssinca said...

I hear there is a huge demand for wedding photographers...;)

good luck with everything, I'm sure you'll figure it all out!

kat said...

Yay for following your bliss! I'm all about the bliss ;-) And don't worry, many, many people don't know exactly what they want to be when they grow up - even once they've grown up. If you just follow your bliss you'll be happy.