Sunday, April 27, 2008

A Healthy Dose of Idealism

I feel the need to put down my thoughts now more than ever. This will probably end up being a long and twisty tale with an ever-forming conclusion. But I want to remember these feelings, because I will not always have them.

I began graduate school in 2005 with the hopes that it would answer my burning questions about what I should do with my life. That is one of the more important reasons I went to grad school, actually. Sure, I also wanted to attend grad school for educational/personal enrichment/job reasons, but I also felt the need to put off the big decision of choosing a career. You see, by the time I was set to graduate with my BA, I realized that I wasn't any closer to knowing what I wanted to do with my life (meaning I didn't know what realistic career I wanted to pursue). So I figured I might as well continue on with my education.

And so I did. I took classes on rhetoric, the contemporary American family in novels, theory and criticism, and eco-poetics. I slaved over multiple drafts of papers, cried over writer's block, and tried to understand key theories in the literature and composition fields. Somewhere along the way, I got engaged and then married. During that time, I was highly distracted and unfocused: the wedding trumped my education by far.

I began this school year the same distracted student I'd been for a year or more, only now I was married. At first I really wasn't feeling the school vibe: I truly just wanted to stay at home with Roy and enjoy being married. Over time, something other than newlywed bliss began to stir in me again. It was this little cry of desperation deep inside, begging me not to ignore it any longer. I'm not sure what to call this thing, but its cry got louder and louder as certain things happened. First, I wrote this poem, the first decent poem I'd written in a very long time. Then Roy bought me my camera. Then I took a creative writing class. Then I signed up for my internship in an advanced poetry writing class. Then I began writing a poem and posting it with a photo every day for project april. And while all this was going on, I began reading different blogs that began to inspire and influence me. Oddly enough, quite a few of them are design blogs.

And then, that voice of desperation was silenced as it all became clear to me - what I should be doing with my life, that is. And oddly enough, I've known this entire time. I've known my whole life even! I've just been ignoring it for the past few years. I've been denying myself my dreams.

I need to do something creative with my life. I have been writing since I was a little kid; I have always known that writing was my calling. I got a lot of encouragement as a child, but as I got older, people stopped encouraging me so much. As a matter of fact, when I would talk to people about wanting to be a writer, most would say, "Okay, so what are you really going to do?" As if writing isn't a good enough choice for a career! Phooey.

Well, after hearing that over and over, I eventually started to lose hope that I would be able to make my living from writing. And ever since then, I've been racking my brain, trying to figure out what I'm going to do career-wise. I've been looking for that perfect realistic career that I enjoy that will also afford me the opportunity to write on the side. But the more I think about it, the more I feel like I'll be settling if I do anything but devote myself to my passions.

Yes, passions - as it turns out, I actually feel just as passionate about photography as I do about writing. And while I know I'm not great at either one, I know that I have good moments and that I will get better the more I work at both. And frankly, I think it's silly that these things that I love so much have to be put on the back burner in favor of my crappy job that pays the rent. It feels like a trap, one that leaves me so tired by the end of the day that I don't have the time or energy to devote to my passions. I have been keeping myself trapped for years, and I don't want to do it anymore.

So I have decided that with my graduation (which will hopefully happen in December), I am going to make a valiant effort to find my own little niche. I don't know yet what that niche is or what it will consist of. I know that it will be hard and that I will probably have to continue to have a day job that will pay the bills (at least for awhile), but I don't want to settle for the sake of money, benefits, or resume-building. I don't think it's too much to ask that I look forward to the weekdays as much as I look forward to the weekends. I want to love what I'm doing for a living; otherwise, what is the point of even doing it?

Someone once told me "Be true to the art, and the art will be true to you." And I believe this now more than ever. Now that I am actively writing and being creative again, the world feels like a benevolent spirit that's ready to show me good things. Life seems to be responding to the choice I've made to re-explore my creative side. For the first time in a very long time, everything feels so utterly....possible.

This is why I have been feeling content. While it totally sucks that I am sitting in the same beige office day after day, pushing paper and getting sucked into office drama, I know that there is an end to this misery. And while I do (and will) get discouraged, one thing I don't (and won't) do is give up. I am a go-getter at heart, and when I want something, I am very good at making it happen. As cheesy as it sounds, I need to hold onto some simple truths: 1) Life is too short to settle for less than what I want, 2) It's important to do something meaningful with my life, and 3) I just need to believe in myself. If I can just hang onto these feelings of possibility and realize that there is a place for me in this world, then I know I can break free and do something I love and actually be successful at it.

I am ready.


Discombobulated said...

I love that you are finding this out for yourself! It is so important to love what you do, and it will never feel like work.

For the first time, I actually work at a job that I love, and it makes such a difference. Of course there are days when I do not want to get out of bed, but more often than not, I am excited to face the day, and do not dread it.

I look forward to hearing/seeing more of your creative flow.

tootie said...

I totally agree. We should never give up on our dreams!

You are very talented, and I'm sure that you will find something that you love. Keep the faith! :)

WeezerMonkey said...

Wonderful post and very fitting title. I wish I had the courage to be idealistic.

Nanette said...

I have faith in you, my dear. You will find what you're looking for.

Lydia said...

I stumbled across your blog recently and I must say, I love it.

This was a great post, one I can very much relate to. Good luck with the quest...there are a lot of people out there trying to figure it all out as well. It's good to know you're not alone in the journey.

A Walk In My Shoes said...

I can't wait to see what's in the future for you. Not everyone is brave enough to follow their passions.

dapotato said...

i admire your self-knowing and confidence to pursue what you know in your heart.

and yep, even creativity can be nurtured and improved through practice and discipline. you definitely have a way with words, and i'm sure you will do well at wherever your idealism leads you. ;)

Anonymous said...

Yay!!! ;)


amber said...

such a great post. :) i have a feeling that you are going to do just fine in making all your dreams a reality.