I’ve known I wanted to be a writer since I was in eighth grade.
I haven’t actively and consistently pursued this path since then, but I was in eighth grade when I realized I wanted to be an author.
Or “authoring,” as I told my mom.
I don’t remember the day of the week or month, but I remember following my mother around the salad bar at the restaurant my family still owns and runs. Right by the green beans and baked chicken, I giggled and told her I wanted to go into authoring when I got older.
I quickly corrected my mistake and said I wanted to be an author, but she and I still joke about it.
For almost five years, I wrote random stories here and there, but that was the only time I really talked about my dream. My mother was the only person I told – I told her everything. She was always the one I could be myself with, even if I made up words and giggled too much.
When I was in high school, this seemed like a fantasy – it wasn’t practical. Especially since I was so good at science. I always did well on the tests most others thought were so difficult, and I received the math and science awards. I’d always been so good at science and math and practical things. I was good at being logical, finding solutions to problems, giving the correct answers.
At the time, I thought the correct answer was indeed science. So I pursued a life in medicine, majored in Biology in college, and took the MCAT with dreams of becoming a radiologist.
But the truth was – I was miserable.
I didn’t enjoy any of my classes, except for English and composition. I wasn’t even good at science anymore, barely passing my classes. I bombed – and I do mean BOMBED – the MCAT even though I took all the necessary steps to do well, including the Kaplan course and studying.
Because I was practical and methodical, remember.
None of that panned out in the end, and the worst of it was that I didn’t feel bad about it. I didn’t even care, and I don’t say this now to save face or cover up any hurt feelings because I’m embarrassed.
I honestly felt relieved. Relieved that I could do something – anything – else.
After the plan happily crumbled, covering the ground like light snow and giving me a clean, white slate to begin again, my urge to write only grew. I’d started my first novel as a freshman in college but again kept it secret. It was only a hobby, a way for me to escape my loneliness at the time.
I didn’t talk about wanting to write as a career to anyone until my junior year of college when I told my best friends. Before that, I still was embarrassed to admit out loud that I wanted to turn my hobby into a career.
I finished my first novel four years later and even started two others.
At the end of those four years, I was a college graduate and started working at a bank as branch manager with good benefits and promising future, but I still wrote. I read and wrote all the time. I thought about writing, about my stories and characters floating around in my head to the point where I couldn’t function. I couldn’t function anymore unless I was writing.
But I was too scared to admit to anyone what I wanted. I was too afraid to admit that I wanted to be a writer, even though they don’t always make good money, or any money at all. That I wouldn’t have benefits as a writer. That the competition is too fierce, and I’d never be successful.
After almost two years of working at the bank and becoming miserable again more quickly than I did in college, I decided enough was enough. I told my boyfriend, now husband, of a graduate program in professional writing that I found close by. I told my friends and family that I wanted to go back to school for writing, that I was going to jump off the practical train into looneyville and attempt the writing life.
My boyfriend said that was the first time he’d seen me light up in almost a year. The first time that I seemed excited and driven about anything.
And he was right. I’d done the practical, logical thing my whole life. It made me feel stable and secure with a nice salary and benefits, but it didn’t give me happiness. That path might be right for someone else, but to me, it didn’t fit.
Happiness occurred once I set out to chase my dream, once I met with my adviser, and once I stepped foot on campus at my grad school and started writing. I was terrified, of course, of the transition and uncertainty of what would happen, but above all else, I was HAPPY.
Even though I still don’t know if I’ll make it as an author, I know that I’m content in my journey. I don’t know if I’ll be famous or make any money at all, but I know that I’m happy even just pursuing it with my whole heart. I’ll never look back and wonder what if I’d tried.
I don’t regret my decision to enter into the unknown because I finally feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing, fulfilling some divine destiny, a feeling I never experienced before I went back to school.
So, I say to you, be (im)practical – whatever that means for you. Find what makes you happy, no matter what people might think or if you think it sounds silly. If it’ll give you a grand sense of peace and comfort, it’s worth pursuing.
There’s nothing impractical about finding and pursuing your purpose.