Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Regrets to My Younger Self

I've stared at a computer screen far too long today. Unfortunately, most of the time I spent staring I spent screaming at myself in my head, "What are you doing with your life?!" Spending half of my life behind a desk, in one form another, be it work or school, has left me feeling how shall I say it?...Paralyzed?

When I was a kid I drew ballerinas with crayons that I plastered all over my grandma's fridge. I watched The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and Peter Pan about a million times a year. I played pretend. Then I when I turned eight, Kelly Zufelt, my Sunday school teacher, gave me my first journal. I wrote. And since then I've been writing. What it was about I suppose it mostly doesn't matter, fact or fiction, it's really all the same.

And though my career plans changed frequently from the time I was eight years old (artist, singer, doctor, lawyer or the like) until I finally landed on a major, in the end I was still creating...I was drawing. I was writing. I lived in a world full of tutu-ed, curly-haired ballerinas, crayola-drawn hearts and flowers, stuffed animals named Pooh, and fairies with green puff-ball slippers.

By the time I was 14 and a freshmen in high school, when it was popular to drop fancy words like "major" and "degree", I was already saying journalism was what I was going to do. I could write. And I could write well. English for me, was an automatic A. Plus, there was something glamorous about journalism -- think Lois Lane, pencil skirt, reporter's pad and pen behind her ear, running down the street -- an advocate for truth, crusader of honesty, her pen her gleaming, trusty sword.

Which brings me to the text conversation I had with my mom today:

H: When you were a senior in college did you look back on the last three years and think, 'What the hell did I do the last three years? And what in the world will I be doing of any value after this?'

M: Even worse...after I spent a year away from my family getting my credential...I still didn't really know how to teach kids to read...

H: Dang it. I feel like I'm staring down the barrel of a gun...the idea of doing this my whole life makes me feel just gives me no satisfaction. I love writing and I'm good at if but I feel like I'm in a miserable career w/ mostly miserable people doing nothing good for anyone and I hate it.

M: During my under grad I never really planned on doing I didn't have that frustration. But, when I started teaching I didn't think I would do it five years, yet alone long enough to retire. Most teachers are miserable, lazy people just looking forward to summer vacation.

(Great, Mom...thanks for the pep talk. I'm doomed to a miserable existence with miserable people. )

H: Hahaha! Is the whole human race a bunch of mindless, miserable fools doing the mundane just to fill there life? Where the hell is the joy?! The magic?! Where is the passion? Nowhere?!

M: Hobbies

H: That doesn't seem right.

M: Disneyland.

(I knew my mother was a wise woman.)

M: That's where the joy, magic and wonder is...surely they use journalists!

Ya see...I think people have lost their joy. They've lost their child-like gumption for Pete's sake! We do lackluster jobs without any kind of excitement, passion or anticipation. We stare at computers, figuring numbers, adjusting the spellings of words and the placements of commas...and for what? Is anyone saved? Is a life made easier? Is a smile created? Does Lois Lane's noble crusade for honesty and truth triumph in justice? Maybe. But more often I think it's not the case. Instead of doing what we love and loving what we do, we roll our eyes at each other and fight over petty mistakes like imagined offenses and supposed stupidity of others.

I'm sure if my younger dream-creating, Pooh-and-Pan-watching, Louis-inspired self met me today...she'd be semi-disappointed. I've lost a bit of my joy, my excitement and passion.

Okay, all-knowing-mother...when's the trip to Disneyland?



Allison said...

I must say, my sister felt the same way about journalism...and quite possibly still does-that all you do is push paper for the bureaucrats of the world.

Even starting my major, at first I felt like the majority of what I will be doing is superficial and frivolous. I didn't like that idea either-I want the work I do to affect people, bring them joy or enlighten them in some way. So I started looking at design in a different light! If I work in medical design, the places I help to create can enrich sick peoples lives-transport them from a miserable hospital to an environment that is more stimulating and joyful. In hospitality design I could make areas that are not only pleasing to the eye but also able to function at maximum efficiency.

I think you have to take what you love and run with it-find a niche within journalism that will fulfill your need to enrich peoples lives! Write for the church, for children, for people that need a voice louder than their own.

Or, step out from journalism and write in another form, even just as a past time from your "lackluster job". Combine your talents to write and illustrate books for children-all the things you love combined into one!

I know you'll find joy in anything that you decide to do!

Tonganterror said...

Love the blog. I always enjoy your writing. It made me think of this quote:
"The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation...A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things."
The “mass of men” hold a secret inside themselves which they will never tell. It is simply that they have sold their dreams for the promise of comfort. They work jobs they hate to buy things they don’t need (stole that thought from fight club). In reality, most of the dreams and passions we haven’t dared to dream could be had with the simple submission to the possibility of discomfort in our lives. Men go to their jobs and work full days and come back lamenting all that “hard work”. Then they reward themselves with pure unadulterated comfort which pushes them no closer to any actual achievement in their lives. Sadly, if the truth be told, most of that “hard work” was just staying or looking busy to mitigate the disaster that they call life.
I am starting to believe that the answer comes in naming our worst fears, accepting them, then naming our truest desires and passions. When we see what can become of our lives, rarely does the worst fear ever compare with the freedom and excitement that will come with pursuing our true desires. Sadly, most are incapable of naming their fears or worse, their dreams. Such a thought would be too uncomfortable. Thus, we blame it on our job, our situation, our lot in life. When all that fortune required was an eye for the opportunity and the courage to grasp our dreams.

Hannah said...

That's what I was reminding myself of yesterday...get through the crap now, keep kissing butts, get your degree and someday you can actually do what you want! Good idea on the kid's books...maybe I'll do that at some point! And I definitely love your idea about designing spaces...someday when I'm a real grown-up and have my own house, I'm gonna have to pick your brain and give ya job, haha!

Charlie aka Tongan Terror,
LOVE the quote. I'm going for the courage thing...not the fear.

Love y'all!,


mom said...

This too shall pass...

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