Coming clean

When I was eight I started telling people I wanted to be a veterinarian whenever they asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. I knew at the time that I wanted to be no such thing. That seemed immaterial. I needed a fake grown up job to get real grown ups off my back, and veterinarian was it. It seemed plausible enough. I was smart, caring, and hard to gross out; I have an excellent gag reflex; there was the possibility of kittens on any given workday. This in my mind is a huge plus.

Here’s the thing. In elementary school I already knew I was a wanderer, and I already was ready to lie to anybody who asked to hide that fact. By third grade I had developed a pat answer to a distressing question, an answer designed to please people, to close a door rather than open one. I have gotten no better at answering this question in the nearly thirty years spanning between then and now. These days, I tell people I’m a stay at home mom, which is true enough, though not nearly the full story. Sometimes, I tell people I’m a writer, but this invariably brings up the question “Oh! What do you write?” and so far, the best answer I’ve had is the snarky response, “Words, some paragraphs.” I have no genre, no message, no novel in progress. I can’t even bring myself to post publicly on this blog.

I want to have an answer to the question “What do you do?” that doesn’t make me and everyone around me uncomfortable for its vagueness. I want to have a career and a salary and a sense of worldly worth. But I tried already to get there logically – get any old job, commit yourself, stay in it longer than anyone thinks you should, become indespensible – and it nearly crushed me. I tried to get there by using my perfectionism and my desire to please people, and it did not work. I never got “there.” I ended up missing my children’s babyhood and sacrificing my mental health and my heart for a cause I didn’t truly believe in, that wasn’t actually part of me being me.

This blog is a step in a new direction. For awhile, I’m going to be lost. I’m going to try stuff and look silly and not make any money and be a mooch on my husband’s generosity. I’m going to take classes and stay up late researching online degrees and low residency programs. I’m going to play, and rest, and see if I can’t rediscover what me being me is about. And hopefully, eventually, that will get me somewhere else. And because what I want to be when I get there is a genuine and authentic version of myself, I’m going to try to blog in the midst of the vulnerability of not being there yet.

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