When I was little I wanted to be a myriad of things. All to my mind great had great prospects and growing up to do any one of those careers would have been amazing. However, none of them ever came to fruition because I let myself be guided by other people, despite their own lack of direction.
To be abundantly clear I love my parents dearly, I had a childhood that made me feel loved and despite money not always being readily available I always had the important things in life. Career goals and educational achievements were not their forte though and somewhere along the lines I began to drift and no one could really get me back on track.
There was always a barrier placed in front of me when any future goal was declared. When I was very little, perhaps around the age of five, I wanted to be a vet. I suspect I never would have had the academic merit to achieve this, which was indeed pointed out. ‘Oh, you have to be very clever to be a vet and go to school for a very long time.’ Gee, thanks for that. Here’s the thing though, I am very clever, am I veterinary school clever? Probably not, could I have been a veterinary nurse? 100%! Did anyone ever help nurture this interest? Absolutely not. So onto the ‘can’t do’ pile it went.
When I was about eight I’d resolved to just love animals instead of making them better and I had a new goal in mind. I wanted to be a pathologist. Do not ask me what on earth I’d been allowed to watch at eight years old that had me knowing what this job was, but it truly fascinated me. For about three years that was all I wanted to do. Again I was met with doubts about my academic prowess. This particular also had people giving me odd looks, and questioning why I’d want to do that. As if a fascination with inspecting the dead made me some sort of potential psychopath.
I’m annoyed I let that one go to be honest. I’ve always been interested in slightly morbid things and I suppressed many interests because that made people uncomfortable. By people I mostly mean parents. As a parent myself if my little one, who is seven, came home with either of these goals I’d be buying biology books by the bucket load and finding age-appropriate videos on YouTube. Would I mind if he changed his mind later on? Not at all, but what wonderful things he might learn while it held his interest.
By the time I reached secondary school, I had given up on saying I wanted to be anything when I grew up. I had no ideas, no direction and just tried to do as well as I could in terms of grades because that did seem to please people. The only aspiration that seemed to make my parents happy was getting good GCSE results, do some A-Levels and go to university. Spoiler alert, I did one out of three of those things.
When I was 13 my uncle died. We had always been very close and he was more like another Dad than an uncle. I loved him dearly and his death and my grief were not handled well in my eyes. Part of how I tried to process his death was by writing, this was when I started to write poetry, which was the first writing love I had.
I wrote endlessly and I still have all my completed poems from that time and they don’t make cringe at all, I don’t think they’re terrible and a lot of them tell a very poignant tale of where my mind was at during that time. My love of writing poetry didn’t end until I was around 17, which was when I left college, finally admitting how low I felt and being diagnosed for the first time with depression. You can read more about how that went in Mental Health Matters #1.
In the time that I was writing though I pondered whether or not this could be a potential career, at first quietly but then when feedback from my English teacher was positive I voiced this thought more loudly. I was in all seriousness told that writing ‘wasn’t a proper job’. This wasn’t a conversation about focusing on say journalism, not poetry. It was just a blanket you won’t get paid to write. If anyone questions why I’m not pitching for paid writing positions now, this little seed that was planted just under 20 years ago is partially to blame.
I gave up writing anything at all when I was 17 and didn’t start again until I was 29. The only times I wrote during that period was to write poems for people’s funerals. The morbid streak in me that always raised eyebrows was always forgiven at funeral times because I was the only one willing to delve into the pain to write and the only one, on many occasions, willing to put that pain on show when I read those poems in the midst of grief at a funeral. Funerals are perhaps a post for another time though.
At the age of 34, I do a job that pays the bills, thankfully I do enjoy it but it isn’t a long term prospect and it has been one of many since I got my first job at 16. What I truly want to be paid for, is this, writing. All those years of being told I was aiming too high though are holding me back, I know this, yet I am still too scared to try. In Landmarks, Goals and Enjoying the Journey I said making money isn’t my goal, and it isn’t, for my own sanity I set that aside for the time being. It doesn’t stop it being on the wishlist though for when I’m ready to tackle it.
Writers who I truly see and believe to be better, and certainly more skilled at writing than myself have been very kind to me. Their words of encouragement and positivity have graced my inbox on more than one occasion and I am so grateful for their belief in me. I’m still at that stage where old habits die hard though and making the leap to pitch, even to a known source is terrifying to the point of inaction.
I will do, one day, hopefully soon. If nothing else I think I owe it to 13-year-old me to acknowledge how bloody right she was to start putting pen to paper.