There is no defining moment. You must break free of your own accord.
More often times than not, when someone asks a writer – “When did you decide/ know you wanted to be a writer?” – they have a pretty good answer. A specific one. A certain day or an event that caused it within them to want to write or realize that’s what they always wanted to do.
I have no freaking clue as to what caused me to want to write! I don’t remember much of my childhood but one thing’s cemented into every memory; I always wanted to write. In fact, I’ve never even had to give it thought before. Never doubted it.
But that brings me to something less concrete. Who am I?
I’m a writer, yes, but what else? Are people so caught up in daily life that they forget to figure this out? Or give it any attention at all? I did.
Three years ago I was thinking about college. I had gotten sick and missed too much of a class I needed and was upset that I wasn’t going to get into a four year university after high school, like I’d always planned on. Sitting on my bed, stressing over something I couldn’t control and wracking my brain for a way to make up the credit without having to spend time on a class after high school, I heard my mother in the other room explaining my dilemma to someone over the phone.
I wanted to go to a university. I was upset because I couldn’t, she explained. My plans were no longer going how I wanted them to.
I can’t explain what caused the light bulb to go off in my head right at that moment, as I’m sure I’d heard this time and time before, having said it myself all the time to boot, but it did.
How did I know I wanted to go to a university? When did I make that decision?
The simple answer was – I never did make that decision. But that wasn’t the half of it. I didn’t want to go to college at all! I didn’t want to go to a four year university and get a degree. And get a degree in what, exactly?
The truth was, I had never made that decision. I had known what others wanted me to want, had known what the people around me wanted, and had absorbed it through my skin like I was a freaking frog in the middle of the rain forest. And my brain chalked it up to, “okay, I’m a straight ‘A’ student, I’m getting a scholarship, going to a four year university, and getting a degree. This will make everyone around me happy and proud and all will be right in the world.”
I hadn’t taken a moment to think about what I wanted. And how often do we do that? How often do we know what is expected of us, what the definition of success is to others, and automatically switch to autopilot; becoming fixated on something we didn’t even think about for ourselves?
What’s the point to living life at all, if not to be who we are?
Here I was, someone who knew I was going to become an author, knew that writing made me happy, ignited passion inside me. And yet, I was planning on going to a university as soon as I finished high school.
And what did I plan on doing once there? I had no clue. I just knew that’s what I was going to do. Because that was what would make me successful right? What everyone would expect of me, no?
I was suddenly becoming grateful that I’d missed too much schooling to receive two years worth of foreign language credits, thus making me unable to attend a four year university before making up the credits in a community college.
If I hadn’t, how long would it have taken me to figure out that I wasn’t living for myself, but living the life others wanted for me? I sat there realizing that this wasn’t the only area of my life I had been doing this in. I had been ignoring the wants and needs of myself and going along with what everyone else wanted, what everyone else wanted me to want.
Being blessed with an amazingly understanding and compassionate mother, I survived this with the smallest amount of drama possible. I haven’t gone to college. I’ve changed many things and many aspirations in my life since figuring out how dumb I’d been. Since then, I’ve also realized that I wasn’t happy. I was quite literally on autopilot. There wasn’t a ‘me’ in there anywhere.
Many people saw my changes as negative. Why on earth would I NOT want to go to a university and get a degree and land the perfect job? Why would I not want to get on a full ride scholarship and go to the college of my dreams?
What people often times don’t realize, is that the things they want for others, isn’t always what’s best for them. We’re not all the same. We don’t all want the same things in life. Tons of people want things for me that I do not want at all. In fact, what would make them the most happy person in the world depresses me.
After all of this, after realizing that people can get downright ridiculously cruel when you don’t do what they want you to do, or you don’t want what they want for you, my hope is that no one will make the horrendous mistake that I did.
PLEASE, ask yourself what you truly want. Ask yourself what makes you happy. What are you willing to sacrifice? What are you NOT willing to sacrifice? What do you want to do with your life? How will you get there? Always, always, ask why! Why are you doing this? Why do you want this? Make sure it’s for the right reasons.
Maybe you don’t know what you want. Start there. But don’t lie to yourself. It won’t end well.
So, in answer to “Who am I?”… I am me. Daphne.
I don’t want to go to a university and get a degree. I am a writer; among many, many other things. You’ll find out who I am if you stick around.
And with that, I’ll get off my soap box and leave you to your own devices. My only question is – do you know who you are?
I’m the one that has to die when it’s time for me to die, so let me live my life, the way I want to.
– Jimi Hendrix