I just changed my Amazon product pages biography because I found the one I had placed on there to be dull beyond belief. I just sat and wrote, without forcing it, and something wonderful happened. I told the truth.
In it I spoke of following your heart, and as I showered today, I followed that thread and decided to post it on my blog. I see so many people who have been placed in positions they have no business being in, such as a food server who hates people, etc. I understand that jobs are scarce and necessity rules the day, but it’s just so sad to see someone doing something they are totally unsuited for because they have no choice.
For many years I believed I had no choice. With no interest in academics, I chose to stay out of college and work, dragging my butt to one soul-sucking job after another. When I met my husband and married, I should have been writing, for he didn’t care if I had a job or not, but I was still so unsure of myself I just kept working at the same awful customer service jobs I’d been doing since I was fifteen.
My parents owned a Carvel Ice Cream store in Spring Lake Heights, New Jersey and the first time I dropped a soft vanilla ice cream cone into a bitchy woman’s purse my parents should have known that I just wasn’t cut out for customer service. Alas, they didn’t, and they didn’t encourage me to do anything but get married because they believed I was a hopeless case who would be living with them until I died. If I said there was little encouragement of my creative gifts, I would be giving them high praise. There was no encouragement, and consequently, I shriveled up and died. No, I didn’t, but I felt as though I had.
One thing I can brag about is my computer skills. I feel like a computer whisperer in that I can tell what’s wrong with a computer that is malfunctioning. I wasn’t aware of this gift until I was forty-five – that’s right, I foundered until I was forty-five. During one of my many “breaks” from gainful employment, I was given the opportunity by the State of New Jersey to take a course which would hopefully lead me to gainful employment. They taught all the usual secretarial skills, but the one thing I took away from it was Microsoft Office. It just opened up to me and I ran with it.
My oldest son had the advantage of being born during a time when computers were coming alive, and he had inherited my gift. He now develops software and loves it. Using his passion has fulfilled him, but he still has my resistance when it comes to the corporate environment. He is willing to do what he has to, though, to do what fills his heart.
My grandson is a math whiz, and he loves the challenges it presents. His father, my youngest son, did extremely well in math, but he walked a path similar to mine in that he’s worked many soul-sucking jobs due to a lack of education. He, too, had no interest in academics. He loves what he does now, cleaning pools for a large company, because he works “alone.” Some of us just do better on our own, without somebody standing over us. A lack of motivation is not necessarily a lack of ambition – it is a cry for help. There has to be a better way to match a person’s desires to a school course or job search, but I have no interest in the nuts and bolts of that action, so you’re all on your own. HA!
Now, after being a secretary for eight years, I am retired. If I can’t write, I can’t breathe, and I think that’s the case for most writers, but especially those that have been waiting with bated breath to get up the nerve to put pencil to paper, or keyboard to Word. I look at my ten-year-old granddaughter who absorbs books like a sponge and agonize with her when she talks about how much she hates math. What use will advanced math really be to her? Other than needed it to balance her checkbook, I don’t think she will find it necessary at all. But teach this kid creative writing? She would blossom like a rose.
When will those that set up a school’s curriculum get it through their heads that you can’t change the desires of the heart by threatening an F? Now, before all you teachers bite my head off I want to say one thing – most of you are gifted to teach and will leave a legacy with the children you teach for the rest of their lives. I had teachers like that, and I can actually remember their voices. It’s not the teachers I have a problem with – it is the system that pairs an imaginative fourteen-year-old girl with a biology teacher who finds the cell structure of plants fascinating. That girl would have been better served in a creative writing class and that teacher would have been much less frustrated by her lack of attention. So, please know that I respect teachers tremendously, that the idea of dealing with children six to eight hours a day sends screaming pain up the back of my neck, and I’m so grateful someone wants to do it for a living that I wouldn’t dare disrespect you, but the system sucks. My rant is done.
Maybe this idea of doing what you dream of had something to do with a scene I recently saw in the movie Looper. Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt play the same character thirty years apart. They meet – you have to see the movie or read my review – and Willis tries to tell Gordon-Levitt what not to do. Have you ever thought of telling your younger self what not to do? Oh, yeah, I would have listened, and I then I would have gone and made the same mistakes. I would have thought older me was crazy, arguing that I didn’t have enough talent and that no one would read what I wrote.
Now, writing on my own and self-publishing has given me the opportunity to use my gifts, and I understand why it took me so long to blossom. The gifts we are given often need time to grow. They require maturity as well, for only now, at my age, and I willing to make a fool of myself on paper and give it to someone else and ask for their opinion. As much as I would like to encourage my granddaughter to follow her heart, and I will, I know that she won’t listen or understand, because I’m just grammy. But maybe my example will have more of an impact on her, and that is what I am determined to be.