What I Want to Be When I Grow Up

“All too often, we think that God wants us to offer up our individuality, to become something other than who we are, but that’s not what God desires at all.  God wants the exact opposite:  God wants us to sacrifice those things that keep us from becoming unique individuals.”

– Woodene Koenig-Bricker

I can’t tell you how long I’ve tried to be someone other than who I was meant to be.

But as I stare down the big 4-0, I am beginning to see more clearly (and accept more willingly) who that person is.  I also see more clearly the things I need to sacrifice to become that person.  And don’t laugh, but I think who I’m meant to be may have something to do with writing.  (And yes, I realize as you’re reading what I’ve written, that this is shocking only to me).

From the time I was very young I enjoyed keeping journals of my thoughts and dreams.  Over the years I’ve started and stopped countless other journals, too.  It seems that the idea of putting pen to paper has always been something I’ve enjoyed, even though it rarely comes easily.  Plus, there’s the fact that when I was in high school I won a state award for two essays I wrote.  (FYI, so did a good friend of mine who went on to become the best wordhound I know).  And, when I was in college, studying for my English education degree (maybe another clue that I enjoyed the language arts?) , I  had a college professor (a published author herself) encourage me to try to publish a short story I’d written.    So I took her advice,  sent it off to one magazine, received a very polite rejection letter, and decided I was too thin-skinned for that business.

But what I’ve come to realize is that all these years–until only very recently– I was only willing enough to be that  one-in-a-kajillion person who sits down and writes a flawless rough draft of a book that gets sent off to a big publisher, becomes an instant best seller, and then goes on Oprah to tell about it.

(I know.   Should be any day now, right?)

Yes, somewhere inside me that’s still what I want.  The only problems are that

1.  I have no ideas for a book,

2.  Oprah’s show is over, and

3.  the loss of anonymity that fame requires scares me a little.

 (Ok, it scares me a lot).

So now what?

Well, I’ll tell you what.   I’ve realized if I want to be successful at all, I need to open myself up to more.  More failure.  More rejection.  More, well…writing.

And to do that I need to sacrifice some things.  I need to sacrifice my fears;   Fear of failure.  Fear of rejection.  Even fear of success.  And I need to sacrifice my expectations;  expecting fame, expecting validation, expecting acceptance.  And I need to sacrifice my time;  time doing anything other than what I claim I want to do so much– write.

Do you know what occurred to me the other day?  It occurred to me that I couldn’t possibly count for you the times in my life I’ve thought, Oh, I’d love to be a writer because I’ve thought it so much.  But I’d almost never write.   Especially not for others to see.  I felt like I wasn’t “qualified.”  I only wanted the “How to  Write a Best Seller for Dummies” version of writing.  Not the raw, gritty, self-sacrificing kind of writing.

But the other day, I had to ask myself, what does “qualified to write,” even mean?  Lots of people write.  Books even.  So I took a look at my “credentials” and you know what I  saw?  An award-winning writer (I’m fighting the inclination to put “award-winning” in quotes since it was from high school and all…), who received a nod from a published author and who holds a college degree in English.   Hmmm…seems like maybe my “credentials” aren’t so off the mark after all.

Sure, they may be outdated.  But the experience is still my personal truth.

So what occurred to me the other day, then, was that what I’ve been doing up to this point was actually no different than if someone said to me, “Oh, I’d love to be a marathoner.”  And I’d say to them, “Oh?  How often and how far do you run?”  And they’d reply, “Oh, no.  I don’t run very often, because I only want to run marathons.”

Essentially what I’ve been doing is no less laughable:  writing when I felt like it, sometimes publishing it on Facebook, sometimes not.  Bit by bit, I’ve gotten more ideas, and I’ve gone with them.  Piece by piece I’m feeling my way through this interweb of stories and blogs and articles out there trying to make a go of it.  But I’ve not been able to accept that this is what I want to do.  If “this” is anything at all.

And then I decided something.

I decided to exercise a little discipline.  I decided that since I can see small dots of encouragement and nods in this direction throughout my whole life…well, then this may be worth connecting those dots to see what picture they create for me.  Of course, the scariest part is, I really don’t know how it will end.  I honestly don’t even know how I want it to end.  The truth is my little blog here?  It may be a stepping stone to something else.  Or it may become just another blog in a large bloggy graveyard of forgotten blogs.

But I won’t know unless I try.

And I can’t try unless I’m willing.

So I’ve also decided that rather than focus on the possibility of failure, or the possibility of success, I’m going to focus my willingness to accept my fate by getting to work writing.  (At least my heart has decided to accept this…my mind is still pretty bent out of shape about it and holding onto the dream of writing a best seller and landing on Oprah).

But I found this little gem to keep me going.  I don’t know where it orginated, but I found it on Pinterest and I’ve pinned it to my board:

Source: i.imgur.com via Lisa on Pinterest

While I’m not certain of the original source, I’m grateful to him/her all the same.
I’ve also decided that if I’m going to get to work writing then that means I need to make time for it.
So, I’m now setting aside time each day just for writing.  I don’t answer the phone, I don’t read my emails, I don’t run errands during that time.  I write.  (OK, sometimes I read someone else’s writing a little bit first — I call this my R & D time– to get my thoughts jumpstarted, but mostly I just write).   I’m not always writing this blog, either.  Since I’m still a bit skiddish about just putting all my thoughts out there without some filtering and editing, so don’t go thinking I’ll have something here every day.  That’d be waaaaay too much pressure for me right now.
I made another decision about writing, too.  I decided to volunteer in a capacity that feeds my hunger for writing:  I get my inspiration by helping kindergartners  in a wonderful little process I became part of last year known as Kidwriting.  Right now, there is no better “food” for me on this journey than to see the writing process from the very beginning.  To remember what a gift it is to learn how to urge lines and curves into shapes that form letters… and then string letters together into words… and words into sentences.  It’s such a miraculous a thing!

So it turns out what I want to be when I grow up (at almost 40) is the same thing I’ve always wanted to be:  a writer.   And I guess I’m a little closer to seeing that happen since I write a blog and all.

I guess getting close to 40 has made me foolish enough to believe something I read once that “a call from God really only requires three things from us:  courage and a willing spirit, and trust that God will do the rest.”

I’m finally willing to take that risk and sacrifice some time– and my fears and expectations– to help make me into the writer I’ve long said I want to be.

I’m also finally willing to be disciplined about what it is I want to do.

And if I don’t succeed here?

Well, then,  I guess I just have to let go of my expectations and know I did my best.

But even if I fail at this blog it doesn’t mean I need to stop writing, especially if it’s what I love.

Because who knows?

There’s always the possibility that God’s plan for me is to write a best seller about how to fail at blogging.  🙂

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