What did you want to be when you grew up? A singer? A dancer? A pilot? President? Aren’t dreams and the things we idolize as children funny?
I remember being little and thinking I would be a singer. No matter that I had just a mediocre voice at best, more one that blends in a choir well than one that is worthy of belting out a solo piece. It didn’t matter how I sang because I simply LOVED to sing. I remember sitting on the swing sets across from my house, and I’d compose song after song after song. I’d sing them for my friends, who were too young to know any better, as evidenced by how impressed they were.
I recall one church Primary program where we had a schedule of songs that we would be singing. I found myself standing front and center, singing my heart out, likely belting out the words off-key and perhaps even a little out of time. Didn’t matter! I thought I had the GREATEST voice EVER!
I’ll never forget an elderly gentleman walked up to me after the program, patted me on the back and said, “You certainly like to sing now, don’t you?” I remember feeling a bit chagrined that perhaps I had played it up a bit too much. But it felt good to be up there!
When I realized that my dreams of singing were likely not to be, I quickly decided I wanted to be an advertising executive, perhaps even owning my own business and being president, a la Angela Bauer on Who’s The Boss? She was smart and strong and independent and creative. I thought it had to be the greatest job in the world But what did I know? I was in the fourth grade. Of course, that lasted until I was in about eighth, but we won’t go there.
When my love for reading really took flight, I thought that reading and reviewing books would have to be the greatest job of all time. Reading books and getting PAID to do it? How does one get so lucky? This one would always sit on the back burner, knowing it would not be likely I would do anything of the sort but always wishing there was such a job and that someone would realize I was the perfect fit. Me and 10 million other people in the country.
Freshman year of high school came and I quickly made friends with a lovely group of people who actually got me and my sense of humor. I was so drunk on this discovery that I convinced myself I could be a standup comedian. It didn’t help that my friends encouraged me and fed the dream. Fortunately I let go of that one pretty quickly. Don’t get me wrong, I love to make people laugh, even know. Every time you laugh you feed my inner narcissist! So thank you!
It was around sophomore year that I started having notions of being a writer. Junior year I had a brief brush with wanting to be a lawyer thanks to my English teacher and a mock trial in class that I kicked some serious butt on. She told me I could be the next Marcia Clark. (Yes, it was the ’90s, and the OJ Simpson trial wasn’t just a bit of pop culture trivia at the time!) I thought that would be pretty fantastic to get up in court, use my ability to think on my feet, my quick wit and nail some criminal to the floor. But that didn’t last beyond my freshman year of college.
Sometime between my junior and senior year I thought I might do some acting. I had picked it up my sophomore year at a community repertory theater in the small town I was living in and then jumped into it in the high school I went to when we moved to Seattle. It was a thrill to be on stage, to have a group of people intent on you, you controlling what’s happening at any given moment. It’s a heady experience, and I can’t deny that I loved it. I loved it all but the competition. I didn’t have the stomach for the rejection. But the rejection is like 99 percent of the job! That kind of put the kibosh on that. Additionally, I had the passion but I didn’t think I was good enough to go far with it, so I decided to just be realistic about it.
Once in college I thought I’d be a social worker, so I declared that my major. But after a couple of social work classes under my belt I knew it wasn’t for me. The next leap was either psychology or English. And at the urging of a speech teacher at BYU-Hawaii, I finally went with English, double majoring in theater because I just still loved it too much to quit it cold turkey quite yet.
This is really when my dreams of writing really blossomed, especially under the gaze of a really wonderful professor. I was flush with the excitement at the thought of all the literature and writing classes, the books and authors I’d be reading and learning, the analysis and writing I’d get to do. Sure I was told, “What the heck are you going to do with English?” But my writing and literature profs assured me that writing was my gift and it was the way to go. And I truly believed them and felt that they were right.
Only problem was I didn’t stay there in college. I came home on a break, realized I was out of money and promptly got a job making more than I imagined at an internet start-up company. With stock options! I never did go back to school in Hawaii. I went to community college for a brief time, but I started dating Jason around the same time, and we got married and then moved to Oregon. And I haven’t been back since.
I’ve worked in human resources and accounting and at a car dealership, a gas station, Greyhound Buslines. I’ve been doing transcription now full time for 6 years, and learned to do it 12 years ago. Did I dream of doing any of those things? Never. Have I been grateful and hopeful and enjoyed myself along the way? Absolutely. It’s been a learning experience that cannot be duplicated! But now, at this time, in this year, the time is here to REALLY realize my dreams and do what I want to do.
I’ve decided that that “what” is still writing. It has always come naturally to me. I enjoy it. But I don’t get paid for it! I’ve heard once you get paid for it your whole perspective on it will change. I’m thinking that must be true. The problem is and always has been the fact that I’m a craptastic marketer. In a rainbow and ponies world, where Sunshine Bear is the mayor and I get to take the kids to school on my glittery unicorn every morning, writing jobs and opportunities would be falling out of the sky and into my life, folded into cute little origami animals for me to reveal one by one as balloons and confetti rained down on me.
That’s not happening.
Not by a long shot.
This year I’ve vowed that I’ll make a more realistic version of that happen. But holy crap, it’s overwhelming and frustrating and daunting and nerve-wracking and the makings of the so-insecure-I-just-might-wet-my-pants incidents.
A blog I’ve been reading for some time, sent to me two years ago now by my blog acquaintance Shane of Ask Shane, has been a resource that I’ve kept in my blog reader and in the back my mind until the time felt right for me to leap out into the abyss. And just like the universe works, I read a post on this writing blog yesterday (though he posted it two weeks ago) talking about how he offers a mentoring class of a sort that helps you get involved in the process of freelance writing. His class is full but when I emailed him last night he said he’d make the exception for me because of how passionate I am about getting started. Open invitation right there.
But I’m finding myself frozen in fear and doubt. Do I need to pay someone to actually help me get in this? He’ll critique my work and guide me and send me leads and mentor me via IM or phone or e-mail. It’s huge. And he’s successful! (Only if you count making $10k a month successful!) It’s not gimmicky. It’s a great opportunity by someone who is young (he’s 27!) and successful and actually working steadily to help me (in my old age of 32!). But my feet are stuck in the muddy sludge of fear and misgivings and distrust and confusion. And, oh, let’s not even mention with the absolute fear of rejection I have clinging to every cell in my being, threatening to pitch me off the nearest cliff.
So this is where I am.
Dreams are such a funny thing. They take faith. Faith in myself and the process and faith that the world will accept me actually calling myself a writer instead of just talking about being one. Dreams take hard work and moving beyond your fears. They take guts to step forward and fully immerse yourself in them, knowing you’re going to fail some and hoping you’ll eventually succeed a little as well. And maybe, just maybe, part of the fear is that I’ll actually succeed and see my dreams come to fruition. Now if that’s not the wackadoodlest thing, I don’t know what is!
So what are your dreams? What are your fears keeping you from? Take the leap with me! We can hold each other’s hands. Help me be brave by being brave with me!
And if you happen to like to be sung to and maybe have a song or two made up about you, we’ll get along swimmingly! Some dreams die hard.